By Jamie Leary

DENVER — Colorado-based Illegal Pete’s is quickly paving the way for employee satisfaction after announcing a $3 raise to the tipped employee minimum wage. Not only that, but founder Pete Turner said beginning 2019 the restaurant will give a raise to every wage level including salaried management positions.

“I wanted to get in front of them before the holidays just cause it was, it’s such an exciting thing to say!” Said Turner.

(credit: CBS)

Turner was determined to make the announcement in person and visited each location to give employees the news.

“It’s so exciting to be able to say that you, first of all, you’re the reason that we’re successful.”

Illegal Pete’s began it’s “Living Wage Initiative” in 2015 hoping to provide a livable wage for employees who were working more than one job.

While there was an initial hit to the company’s bottom line, Turner found that revenue increased overall. It was a model that worked.

According to Turner, customers will see a slight increase to food prices but they will not exceed the cost of competitors.

This is what the compensation package will look like for starting employees in 2019:

$15 per Hour
+ $4.72 in Tips (Company Average)
+ Medical, Dental, & Vision Insurance
+ 401(K) Plus Matching
+ Paid Time Off
+ Paid Sick Time
+ Food & Drink
= $46,000 Starting Tipped Employee Minimum Annual Compensation

(credit: CBS)

“It just allows us to live a little more comfortable, easy life and not have to worry about if we’re going to be able to pay our bills,” said Bailey Bair.

Bair has been working for Illegal Pete’s for the last 8 months. She says even before the announcement of a raise, the work environment exceeded her expectations.

“Oh, it’s that and more,” Bair said. “This place has become my family.”

Bair is one of the newest employees at Illegal Pete’s but there are many who have been a part of the company much longer.

Seve Desoto has been with Illegal Pete’s for 8 years. He was a biology major in college and always figured he would go that route.

“It was a job for me to pay rent and buy books in college and buy beer,” Desoto said. “But I loved the culture of the company, I loved my coworkers and the job itself, and I just kinda stuck on after college and I worked my way up.”

Desoto was recently promoted to regional manager and said the secret to the success of the restaurant isn’t difficult.

“It’s our employees that take care of our guests, and if they’re happy then our guests are happy and we can continue to grow as a company.”

(credit: CBS)

Illegal Pete’s is also a member of Good Business Colorado, which works with businesses statewide to influence state legislation and create healthy work environments. Turner hopes by sharing the success Illegal Pete’s has seen with wage increases, it will encourage other businesses to do the same.

Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.

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