Bar Marco starts offering ‘complete employment' to workers | On The Side | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Bar Marco starts offering ‘complete employment' to workers

"Our greatest risk is that we do not take care of the people who make Bar Marco so special."

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Bar Marco, the Pittsburgh restaurant that boasts spontaneity with its No Menu Mondays and made-to-order cocktails, is looking to for more consistency ... for its employees.

Beginning this year, the 3-year-old restaurant in the Strip District is offering complete employment contracts — including a full wage (starting salary $35,000), health care and shares in the company — and doing away with gratuities altogether. Most restaurants pay servers less than $3 an hour and rely on customer tips to make up the difference.

"We saw 40 percent revenue growth last year, mainly because of [the employees], and they deserve to be recognized as the professionals they are and have opportunities to turn what they love into a respectable career with upside potential," co-owner Bobby Fry says.

Fry says the change won't translate to the customer as an automatic gratuity, nor will the menu prices just rise 20 percent. Rather, Bar Marco is expanding the depth of its menu and increasing the number of seatings in its Wine Room to make up the difference.

"We've done a year's worth of homework for this," Fry says. "Our greatest risk is that we do not take care of the people who make Bar Marco so special."

Anything left on the table won't go to your server. But it will still go to a good cause — the restaurant's nonprofit Food Revolution Pittsburgh Cooking Club, which aims to expand culinary experiences for Pittsburgh Public Schools students.

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