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Some restaurants thriving after going fully contactless

customers use qr code to access menu at Casa Del Barco
customers use qr code to access menu at Casa Del Barco(wwbt/nbc12)
Updated: Mar. 26, 2021 at 5:56 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Since last summer, if you’ve visited The Boathouse or Casa Del Barco, you’d notice it wasn’t a waiter who’s taking your order.

Those restaurants and others owned by The Housepitality Family are now almost fully contact-less, but it turns out servers are not losing out in the switch to ordering over the phone. In fact, since the switch, the restaurants have been paying workers livable wages, doing away with the old industry standard of $2.13 plus tips.

“We took the opportunity of Covid: that Covid lemon, and we made some lemonade with it,” said Emmy Finch, Director of HR with Housepitality.

Customers do all their ordering on their phones, after scanning a QR code; they order whenever they want, and the food is delivered to their table. In essence, the whole experience is at its own pace.

“You’re not waiting for a check at the end of your meal, you’re not waiting for a server to come back if you want a refill. It’s the safest for you, it’s the safest for us, and really it’s the most efficient,” Finch said.

Brooke Flowers, General Manager of Casa Del Barco’s Chesterfield location said that the change has boosted productivity: “Rather than just servers having 3 tables, we have servers come close to 20 tables.”

The contactless change also impacting employee pay for the better: servers are no longer reliant on tips

“They have the opportunity to grow and make up to $20-$23 an hour instead of the $2.13 and tip-share that they’re getting,” Flowers said.

Cooks and dishwashers are also getting a better cut. Gratuity is already added to checks, but the group says some customers end up adding more gratuity anyway. This is a welcome change to Chef Devon Hammer, a ten-year veteran of the industry.

“I wish I had made that when I was 18. For the entire service industry in general, not just this company, the higher the pay, the better because the cost of living is going up. The more you can pay your people to take care of themselves, the more they will take care of you,” Hammer said.

The Housepitality Family says this contactless method is something they see sticking around, post-pandemic.

They plan to hire 300 more workers for their 8 locations in the coming months. Their listings can be found here.

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