A new restaurant in San Antonio, Texas, is donating all the tips that its servers receive to charity. Oaks Crossing is the first restaurant in this area to embrace a no-tips policy while benefiting the greater good, KENS 5 News reported.
Nick George, the manager of the restaurant, is discouraging customers from tipping. However, when they do tip (the establishment collected $600 in the first week), the money is donated to a good cause. The first to benefit from Oaks Crossing’s satisfied patrons is the local Parman Branch Library.
So far, so good. Certainly public libraries can use all the help they can get.
But what do the restaurants’ servers think about not getting to take their tips home?
A restaurant spokesperson said the Oaks Crossing employees don’t need to rely on tips anymore, since the company pays “a competitive wage.” However, there were no details forthcoming as to what exactly constitutes a competitive wage.
Current Minimum Wage For Restaurant Workers
The current federal minimum wage stands at $7.25, an amount that is too low pretty much anywhere to provide working families much of an income; although increasingly, adults depend on the minimum wage to make ends meet. This year, 22 states have their own minimums, ranging from $7.40 in Michigan to $9.32 in the state of Washington. Seattle just agreed to take its minimum up to $15 on hour, though with a phase-in period of quite a few years.
But for servers in restaurants, the picture is even bleaker. The Fair Labor Standards Act allows for restaurants and other businesses with tipped employees to pay the workers as little as $2.13/hour, so long as the tips they receive make up the difference between that lower wage and the $7.25/hour federal minimum wage.
I can only imagine how tricky that would be to work out.
Restaurants Replacing Tipping With Paying a Living Wage
Oaks Crossing is by no means the first restaurant to do away with tipping.
A restaurant in Newport, Ky., has numerous signs posted making it clear that tips are not part of the transaction process. Packhouse Meats opened in January, and its credit card slips don’t even have a line for tips. Instead, servers get paid either $10 an hour or 20 percent of their food sales, whichever is higher.
In New York, a Japanese-style pub called Restaurant Riki has banned tipping because it’s more in line with Japanese customs. It raised prices to compensate.
A new brewpub scheduled to open this fall in Washington, D.C. will also do away with tipping. The founder of the restaurant, Public Option, plans to pay workers at least $15 an hour. Any money left on the tables will go to charity.
In Glendale, Calif., Blend 158 has also eliminated tipping. Owner Gabriel Frem says there’s a problem with the traditional pay system in the restaurant industry.
“If you think you’re just paying a lower wage per hour, but every three weeks you have a new staff, people are always leaving, on slow shifts people don’t make their rent, they’re distressed. It’s gonna translate to more costs,” he says.
Frem’s employees love it.
“I get stability here, which kinda gives me more freedom outside of work, which is nice,” says Tess Marie-Hudson, a bartender at Brand 158. She makes $15 an hour. “I can plan my life accordingly, I can travel and know when I get back I’m gonna work on a Monday and still make as much as I would on a Saturday.”
Let‘s Do Away With the Traditional Tipping System
From my own brief stint as a waitress in the vacation town I grew up in, I saw repeatedly that the tip reflects the customer more than the service. The fussiest, most demanding, customers for the most part either didn’t tip or tipped poorly. Polite, normal customers tipped well and treated me respectfully.
Servers in restaurants deserve to be paid a decent wage, and not have to depend on the whims of the customers, or whether they are working on a Saturday night or a Wednesday afternoon. The sooner the U.S. moves away from the tipping model towards the “compensate servers fairly” model employed by nearly every other country on the planet, the better off we’ll be.
What do you think?
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