Bjorn van der Horst to shelve service charges at new restaurant

24 February 2016 by
Bjorn van der Horst to shelve service charges at new restaurant

Former Rosewood London chef Bjorn van der Horst will become the latest operator to scrap service charges when he opens SLo Group's new restaurant, Kojawan, in the capital next month.

Van der Horst, who has previously worked as chef-patron of La Noisette, part of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, and achieved a Michelin star as executive chef at the Greenhouse restaurant, said he believed the current system has too many "grey areas".

"It is widely accepted that the current system is often not fair. We thought long and hard about this and genuinely believe this is the future of the hospitality industry if we are to support, retain and attract new talent whilst providing genuine career opportunities."

He argued that staff should be treated as equal members of the skilled working class and be able, for instance, to have the opportunity to obtain a mortgage. "They should receive a respectful salary based on their skill set and performance, not through a charitable-style Tronc system. This way they know exactly what they'll be taking home each month," he said.

Back of house salaries will be £20,000 a year for commis chefs; £25,000 for chefs de partie; and £35,000 for sous chefs. Front of house, waiters will earn £21,000; head waiters, £25,000; assistant managers £35,000; host managers, £28,000 and hosts £23,000. About 70% of the 40 staff have been recruited.

The aim at Kojawan, said van der Horst, was to give salaries and incentives that reflect an employee's skill set to bring hospitality in line with other industries. "We (as owners) can create clear and transparent incentive bonus schemes based on financial results in a similar way that many other industries provide yearly bonus schemes to their teams. Skilled craftsmen and workers in the hospitality industry should be recognised the same as in other industries, they have learnt a trade and deserve the same status," he said.

"This is a massive step for our industry and one we are taking very seriously in the hope others will follow suit."

The Swiss-born chef has co-founded the izakaya (or Japanese gastropub) with fellow chef Omar Romero and designer Henry Chebaane. Located on the 23rd floor of Hilton Metropole, the menu at the 100-seat restaurant draws culinary inspiration from Seoul, Tokyo and Taipei with a twist to offer dishes such as rice sandwiches; glazed lobster dog and sesame seed ponzu; and popcorn prawns and liquorice fish sauce. Spend per head will be £45.

In January, the 20-bedroom Gallivant hotel in Camber, East Sussex, also scrapped service charges and tips. It announced it would be paying staff £9 per hour, four years ahead of when the government expects all businesses to achieve the figure as part of its new National Living Wage. Due to be launched in April, the compulsory policy will require employers to pay staff over the age of 25 at least £7.20 per hour, rising to £9 an hour by 2020. The new pay structure was introduced for the 25-strong workforce, alongside a performance-based bonus and a share of the company's profits.

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