Like many industries, the restaurant sector is rethinking how it's doing things and one Montreal eatery is offering attractive salaries

Sushi by Scratch Restaurants, which is opening a Montreal location on Friday, is offering its staff a starting salary of $80,000 per year.

"The idea is instead of treating the service industry as wage workers who work just for tips, our company likes to think we are professionals in the hospitality industry so we compensate like professionals," said the restaurant's co-owner, Phillip Frankland Lee.

It also offers a stipend for continuing education, dining credits, vacation, and sick leave.

"Like you would if you worked at a bank or if you were a lawyer. You're going to get an amount of money that you know you can live on that you know what you can do with," Lee said.

Like many industries, Quebec's restaurant industry is facing several challenges since the COVID-19 lockdowns, followed by a labour shortage and the rising cost of food.

"We are expecting menu choices to decrease in terms of numbers just to decrease the costs and we are expecting restaurant owners to make food waste a priority. So in other words they won't really give away as much free food, bread, for example," said Sylvain Charlebois, head of Dalhousie University’s Agrifood Lab.

Paying and retaining staff is another challenge.

To cope, many restaurants have increased wages and modified opening hours to give staff more time off.

"There is definitely a shift in the industry and the new generation [that has] boundaries that they are going to get the owners to respect and you can see new chefs and restaurant owners that are thinking like that," said Gaelle Cerf, one of two women behind the popular Grumman 78 food truck.

Lee's restaurant in Old Montreal will be his first location in Canada.

"We want you to work hard and we want you to reap the benefits of having a life that a professional would have," Lee said. 

LISTEN on CJAD 800 Radio: How hard is it to find people to work at restaurants?