Jay Whiteley wants to talk about staff meals.


There is evidence to suggest that happy staff will treat their guests well. And studies, like this one, say restaurant guests are willing to pay more when they are treated better.

Of course there are many ways to keep staff happy, but a simple way is to feed them well. That’s right: staff meal. It shows respect and makes staff feel appreciated. But with margins razor slim in most restaurants, often there isn’t a staff meal. In most places staff meal is a luxury. For the restaurants that do provide a staff meal, it is often made from whatever is in the back of the walk-in. Pureed hot-dogs anyone? Stale bread and cold cuts? That won’t sustain a hungry army for the long service ahead.

Staff meal can be a time for everyone to get to know each other and help bring a team together. There is long service ahead and the stress is going to be high, it is important to take 15 minutes to sit down and eat to help nourish the body. We all spend a great deal of time being “on” and the pressure of a busy restaurant is not a place for an empty stomach.

Of course there are great success stories about wonderful staff meals in the city.  However for every success story, there are many less than edible meals being served. It is simply disrespectful and undervalues the people who work hard to make a restaurant great. It is about time that restaurants in the city start to feed their staff with the dignity and respect they deserve.

The word restaurant itself comes from the early 19th century: from French, from restaurer ‘provide food for’ (literally ‘restore to a former state’). What the restaurant provides is food and that food is meant to restore those that eat it. Food makes people happy and can turn a bad day into a good day. And that good vibe will be translated into a great consumer experience, providing repeat business and added value.

So I want to hear from you; the good, the bad and the ugly staff meals.

The waiters that have to eat it and get some insight from the kitchen team as to why they love or hate staff meal. Is it a training tool in the kitchen for young cooks? Are they allowed to branch out and try new ideas on the staff before it is fine-tuned for the guests?

I want to know who is eating what around the city before we all feed the city.

Please send your staff meal stories to me at StaffMealsTO@yahoo.com. I’ll collect and compile them into the best and the worst of Toronto staff meal. If you wish to remain anonymous let me know. And post on any social channel, using the hashtag #StaffMealsTO.