Local Salt Spring Island business Dos Amores Tortilleria makes Living Wage a priority

As we move towards a post COVID-19 pandemic world, we have been carefully considering what we can contribute to better both our local and global communities. Racial injustice, environmental collapse, basic human needs unmet for so many across the globe - the list goes on and on. It feels overwhelming.

We are reminded in these moments that it is more important than ever to use our skills and platforms to affect positive, tangible change. We have chosen to be small business owners first and foremost to do good.

It is painfully clear the traditional ways of doing business that prioritize profits over people must become a thing of the past, and that both reparations and climate justice needs to be at the forefront of every decision we make.

Being small business owners we feel intimately connected to our community and our suppliers, and we see the direct impact our businesses makes on our community. Everything we do, every dollar we spend, makes such a beautiful, woven impact that we couldn’t possibly ignore its value or its importance.

When we begin to think of what our local community on Salt Spring is currently facing, we think of many things, but top of mind is the severe affordable housing emergency and coinciding lack of well paying jobs paired with our boom and bust tourism economy.

We have been transparent with our team since we opened and we are grateful that they wanted to embody these goals and put them into practice alongside us.

Over the past 179 days of operating, we have been working as a team towards increasing the hourly wage for all employees to a living wage. We aimed to do this while also keeping our food affordable, organic, and as locally sourced as possible. During these first 6 months of being open as a brand new business, our team mobilized and contributed their thoughts and actions to better sourcing practices, waste management and overall efficiencies.

Today, we are sharing with you that thanks to our team’s trust and dedication, we are increasing the minimum hourly wage team members are compensated at Dos Amores Tortilleria to $21/hour, a living wage, effective immediately.

It was a tremendous joy to surprise our team with the official news and celebrate together oceanside on Sunday. Of course, there was locally made cake (The Salty Whisk) and locally made bubbly (Kutatás Winery) to help us celebrate.

A “living wage” is defined as the minimum amount of income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs for their household. Here on Salt Spring, a report was released in 2018, completed by the Salt Spring Island Foundation. They found that, “the wage required to maintain an adequate quality of life on Salt Spring Island is calculated at $20.95 per hour.”

We cannot ignore this information. We will take this opportunity to speak directly to our fellow business owners: the time is now to take pause and collect ourselves as the world opens back up. We cannot allow the new levels of busy to make us forget just how much we all wished this post-pandemic world would be a better one. Please carve out the time to consider what you can and must do, right now, to pay your team members at minimum a living wage.

It can’t always happen overnight, but the intention can be set right now and shared with your team. It took us 6 months to figure out how we can make it work for our brand new business: we have studied our financials, streamlined our operations, and found ways to reduce costs. We are still ‘figuring it out’ but have landed on the solutions that work for us and our business right now. Ask for support from your peers if you need it. The community of women in business both here on Salt Spring and our international connections helped us when we asked or pondered the way forward. A special thank you and shout out to these women (you know who you are). More women CEO’s, please and thank you!

Finally, as we are in the hospitality industry, it would be remiss not to address gratuity (tips). Tipping has a grossly racist and classist past we wish no part of continuing as was. By paying our team a living wage this no longer places their basic needs being met, or not, in the hands of the customer. Moving forward we are relieved that tips will only hold the sentiment we feel they should always only hold: a gesture of appreciation for outstanding service, a form of extra thanks and support, or perhaps an “I see you working in the heat and I’m so glad it’s you and not me tonight” nod of gratitude. For far too long many establishments have relied on tips to boost their employees wages to an acceptable level. Tips will no longer be relied upon to bring our team members wages up to a living wage, but will be humbly and graciously accepted should you so choose.

As for what's next, we will set our sights on the next milestones. We won’t stop adjusting what we do to be the best it can possibly be for people and the planet. Dos Amores will continue to be here for the locals first and foremost, and we know our community. Our community values high quality organic ingredients that will nourish them, and so do we. This is food we are proud to feed our fellow islanders. We also know our community is desperate for more jobs that pay a living wage. We know you’ll understand and appreciate that our food will be priced accordingly moving forward to support our team in the way that we all deserve.

We’ll keep being here for you, first. Thanks for being there for us.

Con amor,

Chef Deb Peña and Miranda Caterer
Owners, Dos Amores Tortilleria

July 23, 2021 5:01 PM

  • Toby says:

    Very impressive! A piece I wrote to the Driftwood is in this week's edition. I am very concerned about the lack of affordable housing on the island, and the fact that wages have not kept up with living costs here. Everyone should be paid a living wage [and people should think of the community of which we are all a part rather than additional personal gain as a result of greed]. Toby Fouks

  • Robin Ruel says:

    WONDERFUL!!! You guys are amazing and inspiring. Love it. So good.

  • natalia serafini says:

    I can't get tired of repeating how awesome and truly impressive business owners you two are. Not to mention the very best tacos ever. Congrats and THANK YOU <3

  • Miranda Caterer says:

    I'm with you, Toby! Everyone deserves a living wage, and we must think of community first. Thanks for taking the time to read - looking forward to your article, too.

  • Miranda Caterer says:

    Thanks for your support, Robin! It's so appreciated!

  • Miranda Caterer says:

    Thank you so much Natalia! There is no better compliment for us than when you spread the good taco word, lol. Thank you for reading and for following along as we shake things up for the better!

  • w101 says:

    Dos Amores y Salario Justo? 🙂

    Many years ago I was in the restaurant business in both management. and as an owner for while in Los Angeles... At that time food cost, labour and hard costs overhead limited wages to the minimum set by the state to just get by, and that was me working a 100+ hours a week with no pay myself. I would have loved to pay more.. --especially my more productive employees who so deserved it but it just was not possible to survive due to cut throat competition. Not sure what magic formula you have figured out other than the SSI market will support the business. It's very smart to make how you treat your employees as part of the marketing, as fair trade is used for marketing in Coffee etc. GOOD LUCK!

    PS I know how many hours you're probably putting in to make it work.. No days off etc.. Thank goodness it's a labour of love.

  • Nora Bouz says:

    Kudos, what inspiration ♥️

  • myna lee johnstone says:

    Yes!!!