Edinburgh restaurants the Kitchin and Castle Terrace are to close for a week every three months to give staff time off, in a bid to improve working conditions and boost consistency.
The new scheme will be put into practice in 2016, according to Tom Kitchin (pictured), the chef-patron of the five-AA-rosette, Michelin-starred the Kitchin.
The two restaurants are the latest in a growing number of high-end establishments that are looking at ways to change the way in which staff work to make them feel happier about arrangements and ultimately to ensure that they deliver the best, most consistent experience possible.
Both the Kitchin and Castle Terrace, which is headed up by chef-patron Dominic Jack, will adopt the same system, but staff in one restaurant will not be taking holiday at the same time as the other.
Explaining the move, Kitchin told The Caterer: "This is about keeping staff happy and creating a good working environment and creating a great work/life balance. Everyone is looking at it because finding and retaining staff is such a problem."
Both restaurants run busy lunch and dinner services five days a week, closing on Sunday and Monday. But organising staff rosters has proven difficult, particularly because staff often want to take leave at the same time, especially in the summer.
"We are avoiding the difficulties of the roster within the summer months and trying to achieve that balance between work and life and it is really difficult as restaurateurs. We are trying to create that package where people want to stay and be part of what we are trying to achieve," said Kitchin.
Staff will be entitled to 28 days' leave each year, with weeks off in March/April (depending on the restaurant), July, October, and two weeks at Christmas and New Year.
He admitted that the decision would have cost implications for both businesses but it is not clear what they will be at this stage.
"Financially we are taking a hit on it. We have no idea how much it is going to cost us, but we are hoping that with the consistency and the product we are delivering we will reap the benefit and that people will be happy and keep coming back."
Kitchin said that he and Jack had taken note of schemes like the one announced by Sat Bains at his two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Nottingham earlier this year, which will see staff on a four-day week.
In addition to Bains, and now Kitchin and Jack, other high-profile chefs to have announced similar moves this year include Michel Roux Jr's two-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche, which revealed last month it was moving from a six-day week to a five-day week and James Close at the Michelin-starred Raby Hunt in Darlington, who has scrapped midweek lunch services.