How Ali Khan Really Feels About Restaurant Wages

Ali Khan's recent Twitter share addresses a topic that has come up frequently in the media — fair wages for restaurant workers. "I'm all in favor of this," he wrote. "Fair wages make happy people making food you eat. Everyone wins." For those who need a refresher, Khan is a longtime food and television creative featured on Food Network, Cooking Channel and Discovery+ (via Ali Khan Eats). The "Cheap Eats" host's tweet shows that when he's talking food on a budget, he doesn't mean at the expense of restaurants or food service workers, instead he's talking value.

He also shared a black and white text image with his post by Austin restaurant Golden Tiger that reads, "Friendly reminder that we have a 15% service fee this allows us to keep our staff at a minimum wage of 15 an hour plus tips." While this might seem like a high wage to some, it is already minimum wage in some cities since it's estimated that a worker must earn $27.58 an hour to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment in the Austin area (via Austin American Statesman). In fact, six out of 10 American adults support a $15 per hour minimum wage (via Pew Research). And let's be honest, the restaurant industry has had a very tough 18 months. 

Service deserves compensation

There's a staffing crunch around the country with restaurant employees in high-demand (via Eater). Low wages, hostility, and harassments have had many former service employees choose to stay home. "We've just heard from so many, literally thousands of workers who are saying it is just not worth it anymore," President of One Fair Wage, Saru Jayaraman, told Eater's Digest. "It is not worth it to be paid so little, to get so little in tips and to have to put up with so much more in terms of responsibility, health risk, hostility, and harassment." As recently as April 2021, Jayaraman discussed how tips have been down 50 to 75%, in an industry where business has also been down significantly.

If one of the special ingredients in food is love, let's all remember to show this love back to our kitchens and service crew. For those that need a reminder on tipping etiquette, it's standard to tip 10 to 20%, with the lower number representing mediocre service and the upper representing special orders and/or stellar service (via Reader's Digest). And if in doubt, erring on the side of generosity rarely hurts.