For head prep cook Alek Hermon, who has worked in Kachka’s kitchen for nearly three years, the change is monumental, the end of the traditional wage gap between the front and back of the house.
“My whole career, I’ve seen the front of the house live a different lifestyle,” Hermon said. “They pay mortgages and we pay rent.”
Under the old model, Kachka chefs earned between $19 and $21 an hour, for a maximum annual salary of $41,000. With the new salary model, prep prospects will now earn between $55-60,000 per year.
“It means a lot that the experience and the hours put in are finally reflected in my earnings,” Hermon said. “It makes me feel like I have a career rather than a job.”
The commitment to transparency stems from the combined experience of Bonnie, the head of Kachka, and Israel, who has spent most of her career at the front of the house. They have both worked in restaurants since the late 90s and have a successful and successful restaurant, in pre-pandemic terms, appearing four times in a row on Eater’s annual list of America’s Best Restaurants.
But before opening Kachka, Bonnie worked at New Seasons, a Portland-based health food store that offered profit sharing and disclosed to its employees how company money was spent. It was an eye-opening experience to see how such a big business was run, especially for someone hoping to open their own restaurant.