Chef Simon Martin's Mana to scrap 'outdated' service charge and raise menu prices and staff pay

25 March 2021 by
Chef Simon Martin's Mana to scrap 'outdated' service charge and raise menu prices and staff pay

Chef Simon Martin is to scrap service charge at his Manchester restaurant after warning the "outdated" practice is harming the industry's reputation.

Martin, whose restaurant Mana holds Manchester's only Michelin star, said the system was unfair to staff and prevented hospitality from being taken seriously as a career.

He plans to raise team salaries and increase the price of Mana's tasting menu, currently at £155, by incorporating the 12.5% charge into the bill.

Martin told The Caterer: "Service charge is a really archaic practice that has never been abandoned. It stems from when hospitality workers didn't get properly paid for their living and I don't want those values reflected in my restaurant.

"A chef or server should be treated with the same amount of respect as a doctor or lawyer. It's time for a change, and for a modern restaurant service charge is outdated."

All of Mana's team have set starting salaries which usually increase after the first year. Martin said staff could typically earn an additional £400 a month from service charge.

However, this is dependent on how busy the restaurant is, leaving staff with gaps in their pay cheque if guests don't show up.

Martin said: "It's not right that staff can expect different wages every month. Your salary should be based on how much you're expected to work. How are you supposed to get a mortgage on an hourly wage? This is about trying to make the industry more professional and stable."

Mana is taking reservations for outdoor dining from April but will make the changes in November when the industry is on a more stable footing.

Martin isn't yet sure how the menu price will differ but said it was important to be transparent with customers about the changes.

He added: "[The price] ultimately doesn't matter. No one will be out of pocket, it's a just a protocol everyone should be following."

Last year several other restaurants began incorporating the cost of service into their menu prices after the government failed to recognise tips, tronc or service charge as wages in furlough pay calculations.

Michelin-starred Leroy in London scrapped the charge and encouraged other independent operators to follow suit. Chef Selin Kiazim took the same step at her restaurant Oklava London and said more restaurants should "break the mould".

Martin said the pandemic meant people were more likely to be understanding of the challenges faced by hospitality businesses.

He said: "The time to do it is now. People need to have the courage to make that step and the more people that do the better it will be for everyone."

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