Nowadays, it can be rare to find a company where one of their main goals involves putting their employees first. A lot of the time, most of these “big-time companies” only care about profit; even if their workers are feeling burnt out. It’s a system that no longer fits our society and we’re slowly seeing a shift in owners recognizing employee needs and benefits. Brasa Peruvian Kitchen however, is doing things a little differently.
Toronto restaurant entrepreneur, Michel Falcon has just opened up the Peruvian fast-casual restaurant, Brasa Peruvian Kitchen. Not only is he looking to grow the brand internationally with its Peruvian flavours and infusions, but also for the employee system he’s implemented. Michel wants his workers to feel understood and taken care of. This is how he plans on taking employee recognition and appreciation to the next level.
About Michel Falcon
Michel is a partner at Baro, Toronto’s King West’s Nuevo Latino restaurant. During the pandemic, he decided to venture off on his own and start up a fast-casual restaurant that tied him to his roots, bringing Peruvian flavours to Toronto. Although they’re not traditional dishes, these fusions are bringing Toronto one step closer to tasting the flavours of Peru, with Brasa Peruvian Kitchen.
“Our menu consists of bowls and salads – so think IQ foods. But I’m subtly introducing them to Peruvian flavours with things like toppings, sauces, marinades and proteins.”Michel Falcon
Brasa Peruvian Kitchen – An Employee Lead Company
In 2018, Michel wrote his first book titled People-First Culture. With his background in customer and employee management as well as company culture, he has an understanding that has been the basis of his career for over a decade. Michel says Brasa’s mission statement is, “Why Do We Work?,” and for him it means, “building a company the world needs more of. One where everyday people are empowered to make great money, achieve career growth and help close the equality gap.”
Michel says if there’s one company he’s emulating its Starbucks. The first company to give their employees comprehensive health care in the U.S. in the 90s for both full-time and part-time workers.
“When I say employee first I don’t pay lip service to it. The first thing I did before establishing the price of our food was sitting down with one of our investors and I told them I don’t want to pay the minimum. I will never pay the minimum wage,” Michel said.
$16/hr For Team Members, $18 For Team Leaders
Brasa is starting their wages for regular staff at $16/hr and for team leaders and management, $18/hr. The current minimum wage in Ontario is $14.25/hr and with the cost of living rising, especially in the city, it’s a struggle. In addition to these higher wages, Michel is promising a 50 cent raise every 6 months and giving employees a 4-day work week with 10hr shifts. This gives his staff enough time to rest up and do as they please on their 3 days off.
“I think there’s two types of companies. There’s a type of company that will pay minimum wage and will kick and scream when they have to pay more. And then the other type of company will do everything they can to pay more and we’ll be the ladder,” said Michel.
Part-Time & Full-Time Worker Benefits – Providing A Monthly Budget
No only is Brasa paying their employees higher than minimum wage, they’re also providing each employee, no matter part-time or full-time, a $350 monthly budget. This budget can go towards anything the employee needs.
“This budget can go towards benefits and lets say our benefit program costs $75 a month, we’ll pay that for you. And the reminder of the $275 can go towards things like helping towards your child’s daycare or even towards the internal portal we’ve created,” Michel said.
The Brasa Master Class – An Internal Portal Of Benefits
Michel has brought together a few of his friends who are experts in their own fields. Each of them can help Brasa employees gain necessary life skills and overall better themselves as individuals.
Stephan is a Toronto-based former banker turned comedian, and public speaking expert. Brasa employees can book him for a call and get coaching on how to be a better public speaker. You may be thinking, why this is beneficial to the average fast-casual restaurant employee? Michel says, “I care, because my employees are human beings and they want to learn skills too. If you think about it, our employees are on stage everyday serving our customers. So if they book a call with Stephan, we’ll pay for that.”
If employees are wanting to get in better shape, get stronger or even feel better about themselves, they can book in a training session with popular Toronto fitness trainer, Kelsey Rose. With the Brasa benefits they can book a consultation with her and start on their own fitness journey.
Sunny Verma is an education expert and founder of TutorBright, an affordable tutoring service in Toronto. Michel says if one of their employees is a parent and needs help with getting their child into tutoring, Brasa benefits have got them covered.
Michel has also gotten rid of the traditional resumé and cover letter hiring process. When applicants first apply to work at Brasa he asks for them to watch a set of videos about the company and then the initial interview is just about having a conversation and figuring out whether they’d like to work together.
About The Food
Brasa Peruvian Kitchen’s signature bowls and salads have been created by Peruvian-born chefs from Toronto and New York. The Peruvian flavours come together with the perfect balance of animal and plant proteins, vegetables, grains, roots and made in-house dressings and sauces.
Menu items include:
- Hot Brasa Chicken Bowl: mixed greens, Brasa roasted chicken, mint cucumber, panca garlic roasted potatoes, raw shredded carrots, Peruvian salsa, golden beets, hot rocoto + lime sauce.
- Andean Roasted Potato Bowl: mixed greens, panca garlic roasted potatoes, Peruvian mixed corn, queso fresco, sweety drop peppers, Peruvian black olives, toasted Peruvian corn, double avocado + maca yogurt dressing.
- Spiced Shroomama Salad: mixed greens, Brasa portobello mushrooms, tri-colour organic Peruvian quinoa, steamed broccoli, sweety drop peppers, light lime + maple dressing
- Yellow Chili Pepper Shrimp Salad: inka greens, yellow chili pepper shrimp, mint cucumber, sweety drop peppers, Peruvian mixed corn, toasted Peruvian corn, golden beets, lemon wedge, mango + turmeric dressing
Brasa Peruvian Kitchen is located at 297 Campbell Avenue and is open for pickup, patio and delivery in a 5km radius Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Enjoy their delicious bowls and salads outside on their patio, which Michel has turned into a Peruvian getaway. When you first enter, you’ll see a beautiful mural done by a Peruvian artist in Toronto, @comilart. On each table you can find Peruvian textiles and treated to a playlist of curated music by modern Peruvian artists from around the world. And of course, the game of Sapo, a traditional Peruvian coin toss game.
Brasa Peruvian Kitchen will be opening their second location at First Canadian Place come Fall 2021.
Feature Image: Tatiana Furtado