By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – Gerado Berez has been working as a dishwasher at Mizuna restaurant since it opened 20 years ago. He is happy to be back to work after the pandemic shutdown, and when he got his first paycheck and it was much larger than normal, he was even happier.

“I was surprised when I looked at the first check … and the second check,” he said.

His bigger checks were the result of the restaurant’s new Creating Happy People charge. It is a policy that owner Frank Bonanno implemented at all of his restaurants that adds a 22% surcharge to every bill. The money gets equally distributed to every person working that day.

“We believe this is the way of the future,” Bonanno said.

Bonanno says he spent the pandemic figuring out how he can make the program work because he wanted to make up for the wages his employees lost and provide a good living wage going forward. The fee will also help Bonanno provide his employees with access to health insurance and mental health support.

The charge is designed to eliminate tipping in the traditional sense, but he says you don’t have to stop tipping if you don’t want to.

“We are just saying that this is what we’d like to do to give the stabilization to front of the house and back of the house,” Bonanno said.

Berez says it makes him feel like he can enjoy life a little more.

“We can go enjoy going out to eat and helping the economy,” he said.

Gerado Berez

(credit: CBS)

And, in his opinion, the greatest thing about the raise is that it makes the job he loves even better.

“That’s great to come into work happy every day,” Berez said.

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Michael Abeyta