New restaurant in St. Catharines offers staff a living wage

A new restaurant in St. Catharines is the first in the region to pay its employees a living wage, part of a growing movement.

Chef Adam Hynam-Smith and his wife Tamara Jensen opened Dispatch, a fine dining restaurant on St. Paul St.

“From the get go, we really wanted to make sure our team wanted to be here, they were happy and satisfied and weren’t working other jobs to supplement being here.”

To make it happen their business model included paying staff a living wage, nearly $18 an hour.

Adam blends his experience from his home in Australia, along with his travels and a love of bold flavours. He says tips aren’t part of the culture where he’s from.

Restaurant manager Michael Kapusty says he was apprehensive at first about the living wage model but says now he no longer needs to have multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

“Here everyone gets paid the same and roughly they all work about the same amount of hours. I think that builds a more well knit team.”

They run a tight ship with six full time and four part time staff. They also have a low-to-no waste policy at the restaurant which helps keep costs down.

According to Niagara’s poverty reduction network, there are about 15 businesses across the region paying employees a living wage.