What Do St. Louis Restaurant Workers Really Make?



Recently, we here at Gut Check found ourselves pondering a simple question: How much do restaurant workers in St. Louis really make?

Just about everyone seems to agree that the St. Louis restaurant scene is booming, and surely that has made a handful of restaurateurs and chefs some very decent money. But what about the people behind the scenes?

We wanted to know how much servers, bussers, sous chefs, prep cooks and others around town earn. We took a highly unscientific survey of people we know in the industry and the people they know, and compiled a short list of some of the real wages of real restaurant workers in St. Louis.

See also: St. Louis Pastor Asks Why Server Deserves Bigger Tip Than God on Receipt

Our interest in this topic is threefold. First, in an age of celebrity chefs and the Food Network, non-industry folks can be forgiven for thinking that everyone working in the hottest restaurant in town is making big money. Not so, it turns out.

Second, in a post-recession world, the price of a culinary school education is being scrutinized more than ever. We wondered: How much can these students expect to be paid in the real world?

Third, fast-food worker wages have become a hot topic both locally and nationally. Show Me $15 has demonstrated multiple times on behalf of fast food employees, who make as little as Missouri's minimum wage, or $7.50 an hour. The group would like to see that number doubled. We wanted to compare this rate to other food service jobs.

See also: Show Me $15 Protests Chipotle, Says Worker Fired for Talking About Higher Wages

As previously stated, this is hardly an exhaustive study. We asked our lovely friends and friends of friends in the restaurant world to share their pay with us on condition we not name them or their restaurants. All these figures are self-reported. Feel the premise of this list is inherently flawed? It is! But sit tight, we may have a solution at the end of the post.

  • Line chef at high-end south-city restaurant: $10/hour
  • Server at a chain steak house: $70,000
  • Entry-level cook at a four-star hotel: $13/hour
  • Click through for more and a chance -- if you'd like -- to share your own experience.

  • Sous chef at mid-range wine bar: $34,000-$36,000
  • South-city coffee shop dishwasher: $7.50/hour plus end-of-night tip out (anywhere from $10-$40)
  • Entry-level cook at a country club: $10/hour
  • Banquet chef at local winery: $18/hour
  • Pastry cook in downtown St. Louis: $14/hour
  • Mid-range cafe manager: $9.50/hour plus end-of-night tip out
  • Cook at a retirement community in west county: $10.50/hour
  • Pastry chef at a fine-dining restaurant: $44,000
  • Culinary student on an externship at a local restaurant: School credit
  • Line cook at high-end midtown restaurant: $13.50/hour
  • Bartender at south-city event space: $12/hour + tips
  • Sous chef at high-end bar and restaurant: $34,000

Most of these jobs do not include benefits, with the exception of the salaried positions. And there are certainly perks you won't get just from the dollar amount -- free or discounted food, training, prestige and resume building, etc.

Are you a restaurant worker thinking to yourself, "This list doesn't even come close to reflecting true wages in St. Louis." Good news! Realizing that our sample size is impossibly small, we'd like to hear from you -- from executive chef/owner down to the guy who delivers the towels. We've created a short survey below and if enough people fill it out, we'll report our findings in a future post on Gut Check.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Gut Check is always hungry for tips. E-mail us!


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