Changes at La Strada
As of October, La Strada Dolci e Caffé is now La Strada Italian Kitchen & Bar. The name change is one of many at Zharko Palushaj’s Birmingham hot-spot at 243 E. Merrill Street. A new menu now has multiple pasta, veal, fish, and poultry dishes, along with the addition of tableside cooking for first, second, third, and fourth courses. Options include caesar salad, pasta, an entree, and dessert. Palushaj also applied to change the restaurant’s hours, switching from opening early – La Strada was initially a European-style coffee shop – to around 10-11 a.m. and staying open until midnight. Finalization of hours may take a few weeks, as Palushaj was waiting to hear back from the city when we spoke. The biggest change, though, will probably have more effect on staff than customers. La Strada is officially now a tipless restaurant, and the front-of-house staff will now have annual salaries – ranging from $60,000 to $75,000 – just like the back-of-house employees. “For me, a great waiter or maître d’ is as important as the chef in the kitchen or the sous chef,” Palushaj said. “The bartender is as important as the pastry chef.” Palushaj will offer paid vacations, money towards health care, and a retirement plan as well. He isn’t the only one going full steam ahead on this trend, which Palushaj hopes he’ll see in more Michigan restaurants. Magnet — which recently opened at 4848 Grand River Avenue Detroit – has also gone the tipless route.