Many hands touch Zuni Cafe’s famous roast chicken before it reaches a restaurant table: the cook breaking down the birds, the sous chef watching over them as they brown in the wood-fired oven rustic brick, the waiter who brings the large plates to the dining room.
When the legendary San Francisco restaurant made headlines last year with its decision to replace tipping with an automatic 20% “fair wage” surcharge, the aim was to raise the wages of the workers lowest pay from the kitchen – a recognition that every employee who helps make Zuni chicken deserves to earn enough to live in the Bay Area. Although hailed by many as an optimistic shift in the industry, the move has sparked tension within the restaurant.
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