The Clever Reason Restaurant Owners Are Giving Knives To Their Staff

Imagine that you're starting a job working at a local restaurant. Your training is going well, and you're learning how to serve customers and where to take plates when busing tables. It's nothing unexpected, all things considered — until your boss asks you which knife you would like to use. Would you prefer the swift, portable paring knife? Or do you like the heavy, powerful blade of the cleaver? Come to realize it, you notice that everyone in the restaurant has their own "personal knife" they carry around like the samurai used to do with their swords.

For some time, employees of the restaurant industry found themselves with a problem: they had to purchase their own equipment. As Restaurant Business Online explains, unless the equipment was for safety reasons or required by OSHA, employees would have to shell out money for their tools, such as knives, should their employer ask them to. This means that, depending on the place of work and the equipment required, employees could pay a small fortune just to start their job. One notable debate in recent times is whether employees should bring their own masks and gloves to work or if they should be provided by the employer (via ADP).

Some restaurants, however, have taken up to providing employees with equipment, such as knives. One notable example is a restaurant known as HAGS in New York City, which is doing everything it can to step away from expected restaurant norms, per Eater.

Providing knives makes an equitable kitchen environment

Aside from "free knives," what exactly is so important about providing employees with knives rather than making them purchase their own? What benefits are there for something so relatively minor?

According to Telly Justice, co-owner of HAGS in New York City, providing knives to employees creates a more "equitable" environment. After all, if an employee struggles with rent or bills, how could they be expected to pay for their equipment? Eater tells us that HAGS stands out from the restaurant scene not just by providing its employees their tools but also by welcoming other unconventional practices, such as allowing servers to sit down or hosting "pay-what-you-want" nights. Justice explains that the purpose of HAGS is to provide a comfortable, equal experience to both customers and employees. 

Yet there are those who enjoy purchasing or even making their knives, which gives them the freedom to choose a knife that fits their needs. Rather than rely on a knife used by everyone in the kitchen, some enjoy using their own knives that they can ensure are cleaned and well taken care of (via Quora). While it's up to the employer to rule whether employees should bring their own equipment, there are still other bizarre rules restaurant employees may find themselves following.