Ritual Restaurant located near the corner of Robson street and Denman brings a Gas Town feel to the Westend. The twist with this restaurant is the Living Wage policy, that is there is no tipping required.
I sat down with owner and executive Chef Nevada Cope to find out more about herself, her business, her policy with respect to living wage and advice for new restaurant owners. Here’s what she had to say:
James: Why did you want to build Ritual?
Nevada: I started ritual because I wanted to change the standard for restaurant employment in Vancouver and also to share my take on american style comfort food.
James: Why was it important for you to have a living wage policy and why do you donate all tips to charity?
Nevada: I’ve worked as a cook 8 years and an executive chef for 4 years. During that time I saw a huge discrepancy in equal pay throughout the restaurant positions. Cooks often go to school for 1-2 years and complete 3 year apprenticeships. At the end of that they are still making $13-20 an hour plus maybe $100 in tips a week or often no tips at all. Meanwhile servers earn minimum wage but often walk away with hundreds of dollars a night for just a few hours work.
I found this really unfair and hard to take. I wanted my restaurant to equally distribute wage for all positions, abolish the tipping mentality and simply pay a fair living wage. So that’s what I did at Ritual. It does put more pressure on business as overhead costs are higher but I feel it is the right thing to do.
James: If you could give three pieces of advice to a new owner starting up a similar restaurant what would it be?
Prepare for the Worst – gear up for an emotional rollercoaster. If things get bad, just keep going and get creative to make it through the situation. There’s always a solution – you just have to find it.
Organize Yourself – there are so many details to sort out and simple things can get forgotten if you aren’t on top of everything all the time. I went through 2 big note books of lists and to-do’s. It’s nice to look back at them and remember the nightmares.
Watch your Finances – prepare to be at least 15-20% over your estimated budget. Don’t expect to take a wage from the business for the first year or so. overestimate all costs to save yourself stress.