Irene Li, of Mei Mei Street Kitchen, empowers her staff to make financial decisions on the fly. Every server has a $40 “surprise and delight” budget they’re allowed to use every shift, whether it’s to comp a dish that had to be remade or to give a free dessert to a regular.
"We tell the server that's your 40 bucks. We want you to spend it on somebody whose food we messed up. We want it for a brownie for that DoorDash delivery driver who looks like they're having a pretty bad day. We want to do a little something extra for a regular who comes in and gets the same thing all the time, and we want them to try something different."
"So we really want them to spend that money. We think that it's so much more effective as something extra for a guest than a couple more cents in our pocket."