As March drew to a close, Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor in the Strip District found itself without enough workers for the upcoming spring and summer rush, and it certainly did not have enough workers to open the shop to its desired seven days a week schedule.
Then, on March 30, the parlor announced it would more than double the starting wage for the roles, going from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, a scoop that seemed to captivate workers throughout the region and one that earned a significant amount of local media coverage.
"It was instant, overnight. We got thousands of applications that poured in," Maya Johnson, general manager of Klavon's, said. "It was very overwhelming, very.
People were coming in by the next day that it broke on the news, they were coming in, filling out paper applications. I was doing on-the-spot interviews."
Before the announcement, Johnson said the ice cream parlor would see a few applicants per position, but many wouldn't show for the interview. Klavon's, which has existed at its original location at 2801 Penn Ave. since 1923, now has the staffing it needs to open every day this summer, filling all of the 16 positions it needed to do so over a period of a few days.
Johnson attributes that feat, in part, to the well-advertised "living wage" that's now offered to all who work at the parlor.
"You're going to get quality work from people when people know that they are going to make a good paycheck," Johnson said. "They're going to put their best foot forward in order to keep their position and they're going to appreciate you."
That's the case for Marlea Pavlick
, a 20-year-old part-time server and bartender at the recently opened The G.O.A.T. Sports Bar in Cranberry, which is guaranteeing all front-of-house workers, such as servers and bartenders, a $20 an hour minimum wage. If a front-of-house worker doesn't average $20 an hour at the end of the week when factoring in their tips earned over the same period, The G.O.A.T. Sports Bar will pay the workers the difference. These workers will be paid the federal tipped minimum wage of $2.83 an hour by the sports bar if they make at least $20 an hour with their tips throughout the week, however.
According to Pavlick, that makes all the difference and especially during periods where restaurant activity can be slow.
"I feel way more motivated; I don't dread going into work the way I did at other places," Pavlick said. "The people are way more willing to do the work when they're getting paid for it. They're way more willing to help you out and run food for you and do all these extra things because they're getting paid very well and they know they are, they know they're going to walk away with at least $20 an hour."
"Really, we had to offer more than the rest," Josh Wyka
, owner of The G.O.A.T. Sports Bar, said. "The people who are looking to work, they were all looking for full-time hours and not everyone is able to offer that right now, so I've been able to be fortunate enough to snag some of those and be able to offer full-time hours upfront to begin with."
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