Restaurant to raise menu prices in work life balance plans

Andrew Jones, Hannah Springham and consultant chef Joe Walker.

Andrew Jones, Hannah Springham and consultant chef Joe Walker. - Credit: Simon Finlay Photography

A Norwich restaurant will up its menu prices by up to 50p as part of a push to give staff a better work-life balance amid a hospitality recruitment crisis.

Hannah Springham, of Farmyard in Norwich and the Dial House in Reepham, said the menu increases would range from 20p to 50p, funds to cover the salary of a new chef.

They have announced a Happy Hospitality policy, which will see staff move from a five- to four-day week and offer contracts which will factor in hobbies, childcare and mental health to working patterns.

Since the pandemic eased, and ahead of a busy summer, restaurants and hotels have struggled to recruit workers, with many having left the industry.

Ms Springham said: "Many restaurants, perhaps naively, thought there would be an influx of great hospitality staff after lockdown but quite the opposite has happened.

"These hard-working humans have had a year of rest with their families and loved ones. They’ve had Christmas, Easter school holiday and weekends off, some seniors haven’t had that since being a school which for our chef patron Andrew is around 20 years ago.

"Therefore understandably some people are deciding to leave the industry entirely while others want to find a job with a real life balance." 

She said their team was being approached weekly by other operators amid the clamour for staff, and said they knew they had to "put our money where our mouth is" to retain workers.

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They tried a four-day week when the restaurant opened, but, as a new business, it proved too challenging.

"We’re now in a different and more fortunate position with more regular and returning customers who love what the teams do for them in terms of cooking and service at each site," she said, "and so are looking at creating a new business plan which involves slightly higher menu prices of 20p to 50p more which will mean we can afford extra seniors, enabling all the teams to work to more flexible rotas or shorter working weeks.

"We believe our customers will understand and support this small increase in the interest of a better working environment for the whole team within the restaurant they love visiting."

She said operators always worried about increasing menu prices, but said the reality is "decent restaurants won't last without consistent, experienced and, crucially, happy staff".

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