Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Monday, July 26, 2021

More Orlando restaurants are now offering higher wages and employee benefits

Posted By on Mon, Jul 26, 2021 at 3:44 PM

  • Photo via Instagram/Dharma Fine Vittles

A post-pandemic squeeze is forcing restaurants that have long relied on underpaid labor to re-evaluate their practices. Throughout Orlando, restaurant ownership groups are responding to the pressure by raising wages and adding benefits.

In May, Maxine's on Shine owners Kirt and Maxine Earhart increased base wages to $10 an hour and offered employees a week of paid vacation plus a paid day off to go get vaccinated. This week, the Harp and Cork Southern Hospitality Group announced in a news release that employees across their six area restaurants would receive a starting wage of $15 an hour plus expanded benefits like paid vacation time.

“The pandemic took a toll on each and every one of us,”  said group founder Shaun Noonan. “We discovered just how fragile we all are and the importance to support one another — especially if we want to succeed."

In addition to the raise, workers at Eola General, Market on South, Oak Flame Pizza, Curate, Dharma Southern Kitchen (fka Dixie Dharma) and the Vegan Hot Dog Cart in Orlando will be eligible for vacation time after six months of employment, performance bonuses, and a 401K plan that the group expects to launch in one month.

The new initiative also includes management mentorship, as well as continuing education reimbursement. The group will also focus on providing mental and physical health to all employees within three months, with a wellness program scheduled for later this year.

Many Orlando restaurants have raised wages or offered "signing bonuses" as they struggle to find new hires in the post-pandemic economy, not always to great avail. For instance, the Earharts say that despite their new benefits package to attract new applicants, they've had trouble filling the vacancies.

Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly newsletters, and consider supporting this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you Central Florida news, and every little bit helps.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues


© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation