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Archive for September, 2008

“Amuse Cochon” 5 Chefs & 5 Pigs with a cause

Monday, September 29th, 2008

September 29, 2008, 6 p.m. For more information go to


Slow, Smoky, Sunday Supper

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

September 28, 2008, 6 p.m. at Trois. To reserve go to


Taste of Duluth

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

September 27 – 28, 2008 or call 770-476-0240.


Southern Harvest Beer Dinner

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

September 27, 2008, 7:30 p.m. at The Studioplex, visit


Sterling Spoon Opens Bistro 191 and The Bean Counter Coffee

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Restaurateurs John C. Metz Jr. and Tom DiGiorgio of Sterling Spoon Management Services, along with market partner Mark McCagg of Cousins Properties, announced that their new café and coffee bar, Bistro 191 and The Bean Counter, is now open in Downtown Atlanta’s 191 Peachtree Tower. Through this new partnership with Cousins Properties, Sterling Spoon plans to continue expanding throughout the Atlanta market. For more information visit


Industry Salary Survey – What Impacts Restaurant Salaries?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

September 2008

By Christy Simo

It’s no secret that the current economic state is having an impact on the restaurant industry, from food prices and employee retention to gas prices and salary growth.

Despite the recent economic downturn, however, the restaurant industry continues to grow. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry is one of the nation’s largest private-sector employers. Restaurants employ 12.8 million people today and are expected to add 2 million new jobs between 2007 and 2017.


In Georgia alone, there are 15,235 eating and drinking places, accounting for $13.4 billion in sales as of 2006. In 2007, an estimated 382,500 people were employed by the restaurant and food service industry in Georgia. That number is expected to grow to 460,400 by 2017, equaling 77,900 total new jobs added in the next decade – 9.2% of total employment in Georgia.


As the number of employees grows, how will pay rates and salaries change for those in the restaurant industry?




Nationwide, average salaries in major cities tend to be higher, with executive chefs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City averaging the highest pay – just over $110,000, according to information provided by Star Chefs (
Line cooks tend to be paid higher in an upscale casual setting, which may be influenced by the fact that fine dining line cooks typically work in kitchens with more staff. On average nationwide, executive chefs tend to be paid more in a country club or hotel setting, followed by fine dining and upscale casual restaurants. And although the gender gap is closing, women still tend to be paid slightly less on average than their male counterparts across the country.


Overall, the number of positions for chefs and head cooks is expected to rise by 16.4% between 2008 and 2018, according to the National Restaurant Association. For those entering the restaurant world from hospitality or culinary school, it takes many years to reach the salary level of a high-paying chef. Chefs have approximately 15 to 20 years of experience, while executive pastry chefs have 17 years. Those executive chefs with six-figure salaries? They had to pay their dues to get to where they are today.

According to Outside the Lines, Inc., there has been an average of 4% increase in pay across entry, average and maximum salary ranges since last year in the state of Georgia. The firm anticipates restaurant salaries to neither increase nor decrease in the near future, but rather plateau or rise at the rate of inflation. “Restaurant businesses are going to have to be more cost conscious than ever before when it comes to fixed costs like employee salaries and compensation,” says Michelle Keane of Outside the Lines.

Many economic factors affecting the general public are considerably impacting the restaurant industry. The cost of running a restaurant continues to rise, in part because of production, food costs, shipping and transportation costs. “Gas prices are having a significant impact for employees that have to commute to work. Shipping is also more expensive, so purveyors are charging more for deliveries, not to mention the fact that grain and produce cost more due to lower-quality harvests and increased energy expenses,” Keane says.

Debby Cannon, Director of Georgia State University’s Hospitality Program, surmises that gas prices are affecting not only salary growth, but also rising food prices. “The typical restaurateur is dealing with the escalating prices related to gas prices,” she says. “On the purveyor side, they’re getting surcharges added on to their deliveries, particularly special deliveries.”

“Salaries are a fixed cost, so when you bring in a lot of people on a salary, that’s something you’re locked into,” Cannon notes, “whereas there’s a lot more variability and flexibility with the hourly employees.”

The economic conditions could lead some restaurant owners to hire more hourly employees and reduce the number of salaried positions until the economy improves. “The variable labor cost versus fixed labor cost is a delicate balance for a lot of hospitality operations across the board, and certainly with restaurants,” Cannon says. “A lot depends on business volume, of course, because the downside with the hourly positions is that they can go into overtime if they’re working more than 40 hours.”

Rising health care costs are another factor affecting salaries in the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, 75% of restaurant operators said their annual health insurance costs have increased over the past two years, with a median increase of 14% per year. 2008-sept-8.jpgWages, salaries and benefits are considered the biggest expense for many restaurant operators, accounting for about one-third of every dollar in sales, and increasing health care costs could put a pinch on salary increases in the future.

Although the number of employees in the restaurant industry is expected to rise over the next decade, a tightening labor market means a shallower labor pool for restaurants. Still, the restaurant industry continues to grow. The number of people entering the restaurant workforce in relation to restaurant sales, however, is decreasing.

Many restaurant owners and managers are getting creative with how they compensate and retain their employees. Some are putting bonus programs into place that offer gas coupons, carpool rewards systems and provision of transportation to help entice and retain employees. And as gas prices continue to go up, more and more people are choosing to work closer to home, if at all possible, to reduce the commute time.

“Employees are already giving considerable weight to location when considering their next opportunity,” says Keane, who notes that many people are having difficulty juggling the cost of living with the salaries being offered. “With an already tight labor pool, employers may very well have to become more creative in their efforts to attract and retain employees.”

Industry Salary Survey – How Does Your Salary Rank?


Industry Salary Survey – How Does Your Salary Rank?

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

September 2008

By Debby Cannon, Ph.D., CHE, Director, Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality, Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University


Training and consulting company the Lines, Inc., in conjunction with the Georgia Restaurant Association, conducted a comprehensive restaurant salary survey for the state of Georgia. A wide range of restaurant positions were included, ranging from regional management levels to culinary positions, support areas such as accounting and HR and hourly supervisors. In total, data was obtained for 34 different restaurant positions. For the purposes of this brief summary and analysis, only a portion of those 34 positions will be included.

In analyzing the data from this survey, caution should be used in generalizing the results to all restaurants in Georgia. Less than 50 restaurant companies responded. Wage and salary information do not differentiate between urban and rural areas, large and small operations or fine dining and more casual concepts.

Having said that, it is important for any state, including Georgia, to monitor and continually collect industry statistics such as the data that follows. The restaurants that participated should be commended for contributing information that provides a foundation for future research efforts. The number of participating restaurants will hopefully grow in subsequent surveys and will provide an important source of information for the restaurant and food service industry throughout Georgia.

The respondents in the 2008 Georgia survey were predominately from independent operations (46.3%), followed by chain-operated (22%) and franchised (12.2%) restaurants. Other participants included hotel/resort restaurants (7.3%); banquet/catering companies (4.9%) and other (7.3%).


Of the concepts, upscale casual dining had the highest representation (29.3%), with casual dining (22%), fine dining (12.2%) and family restaurants (9.8%) also included. The average annual revenue per unit ranged from under $50,000 to $10,000,000 with the most (37.5%) in the $1 million to $3 million category. Collectively, 65% of the respondents represented operations with annual revenues of $1 million to $10 million. A cross-section of geographical areas was reflected in the survey representing a majority of city/downtown locations with a smaller percent in the suburban areas. Other areas represented included waterfront properties, small towns and rural regions and tourism destinations.


Regional/area/district management positions among the participating companies ranged in annual salaries from less then $50,000 to over $120,000. Most of the average salaries at this level (42.1%) were between $50,000 and $65,000, with 31.6% of this group averaging less than $50,000. For entry-level regional/area and district management positions, 85% started at $60,000 or lower, with most (45%) under $50,000 for annual compensation.

The director of franchise operations, in comparison, was at a higher salary level among the respondents, with 60% having an annual salary between $70,000 and $120,000. Only 10% averaged less than $50,000 at this level. For starting salaries for this group, most were in the $50,000 to $80,000 range (60%).

As might be expected, restaurant general managers had a wider range of annual salaries spanning below $40,000 to over $110,000. The most frequent average salary range for a general manager was $45,000 to $50,000 (22.2%). For entering general managers, the majority (32.4%) were being paid below $40,000. Assistants correspondingly ranged from below $25,000 to over $75,000, with the largest group (23.5%) in the $35,000 to $40,000 range. Almost 79% of assistant managers started between $25,000 and $40,000 (See Figure 2).


Executive chefs among the companies participating ranged in average salaries from $30,000 to $90,000 with 70% being in the $40,000 to $70,000 range. Entry salaries for executive chefs ranged from $30,000 to $80,000 with most (65%) between $30,000 and $50,000 (See Figure 3).

In comparison, working chefs/kitchen managers tended to start at $40,000 or lower (92.9%), with the highest percentage (38.5%) in the $35,000 to $40,000 range. Regarding average salaries at this level, the largest group (39.1%) was in the $40,000 to $45,000 range.

For the entry-level sous chef category, 80% were in the $25,000 to $40,000 range. This range increased for the average sous chef salary, with 87.5% in the $30,000 to $45,000 category.

Banquet/catering chefs and pastry chefs were also included in the survey. For starting salaries for banquet chefs, 50% were in the $35,000 to $40,000 range with an additional 25% between $45,000 and $50,000. Average salaries for this category tended to be in the $40,000 to $45,000 (60%) range with an additional 30% in the $45,000 to $55,000 range.

Entry-level pastry chefs were most often (33.3%) in the $25,000 to $30,000 starting range. The average for this category increased to $40,000 to $50,000 with 50% of the respondents in this range.

Regarding hourly positions, starting wages for supervisors in this study ranged from less than $8 per hour to one location paying $20 to $25 per hour. Starting supervisors tended to make $9 to $10 per hour (26.7%) with an additional 30.1% in the $10 to $13 range. Most supervisors (58.1%) averaged between $10 and $14 per hour (See Figure 2).

Benefits are an important part of the total compensation package and were included in the survey. Of the respondents, 53.8% provided benefits to management employees with an additional 46.1% providing benefits to all full-time employees.

Most frequent management-level benefits included medical insurance (91.9%), dental insurance (70.3%), vision insurance (45.9%) and basic life insurance (59.5%) as well as a variety of other types of insurance coverage including long-term disability (40.5%), short-term disability (40.5%) and accidental death and dismemberment (35.1%). Retirement plans (401(k)) were provided by 40.5% with an additional 18.9% offering employee stock purchase/ownership options. For management, 23.6% of the responding companies paid 100% of the benefit costs, with a higher percentage (38%) paying a portion of these costs. Benefit options offered to hourly employees were similar to the types of insurance for managers. Almost 31% (30.9%) of the responding companies contributed a portion to hourly employee benefits (See Figure 6).


A small percentage (10%) of respondents indicated insurance benefit options for part-time employees including medical and dental insurance. In addition, 60% noted that part-time employees got paid time-off/vacation and 20% provided paid holidays. Approximately 20% of the respondents also provided some type of retirement plan through 401(k) options or stock ownership opportunities for part-time employees.

Industry Salary Survey – What Impacts Restaurant Salaries?



GRA September Membership Meeting

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

September 23, 2008 for more information, visit


They Are Playing Our Song —And You’re Paying for It

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

September 2008

By Charles Y. Hoff, Esq., Taylor, Busch, Slipakoff & Duma, LLP


Did you know copying sound recordings for commercial use – and the use of the copies in a public setting – is illegal and can result in serious consequences? Where the infringing activity is for commercial advantage or private financial gain, infringements can be punishable by up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned for up to 10 years, and violators can also be held civilly liable for actual damages, lost profits or statutory damages up to $150,000 per song! What does that mean? It means that playing CDs or digital files like MP3s in your place of business is illegal if you haven’t obtained the proper licensing.

As songwriters and publishers cannot possibly monitor the use of their songs on their own, they sign up with one of the three performing rights organizations (PRO): ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors & Composers). Annual PRO fees are typically a few hundred dollars a year with the exact amount based on factors such as the size of the venue and whether you are playing recorded or live music. If any of the music is licensed by the PRO, the business is obligated to pay licensing fees to the PRO. Another option is to contract with a commercial music provider to design custom music. Typically, their monthly rates include music licensing fees.

Small restaurants may take advantage of the exception made for “a single receiving apparatus of a kind commonly used in private homes.” This exemption will apply if no direct charge is made to see or hear the transmission and the transmission is not retransmitted to the public. This exception would not apply to most of the state’s restaurants as it is increasingly rare to find eating establishments broadcasting music via radio airwaves from a home sound system. However, in 1988, the Fairness in Music Licensing Agreement Act did broaden the exception to provide for restaurants of less than 3,750 square feet if the audio performance (radio or TV only) is communicated by means of a total of not more than six loudspeakers, of which not more than four loudspeakers are located in any one room or adjoining outdoor space. An “audiovisual” performance exception also applies where “any visual portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than four audiovisual devices, of which not more than one audiovisual device is located in any one room, and no such audiovisual device has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches, and any audio portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than six loudspeakers, of which not more than four loudspeakers are located in any one room or adjoining outdoor space.” It is recognized that these limited exceptions will not exactly be music to your ears, and that blanket royalty licenses will be in order.


NE Georgia GRA Chapter

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

September 22, 2008 from 3:30 – 6:00 p.m. at a location TBA

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