Making a living off tips is not easy. It leaves people who work in the restaurant industry vulnerable to mistreatment from customers, fellow staff, and employers. It also makes it harder to plan for the future, or even for the next week. People who work in restaurants spend long hours putting food on the tables of others, all while uncertain if they will have any on their own at the end of the night.
Many trailblazing restaurants have come up with a solution. They have eliminated the practice of tipping at their establishments. Leading the way is famed restaurateur Danny Meyer. Owner of popular eateries like The Modern and Shake Shack, Meyer made a splash in 2015 when he announced his “Hospitality Included” initiative. Naysayers bemoaned the decision. Today, Meyer maintains the policy has been an adjustment for all involved, but is still going strong.
Meyer explains that under the new compensation system, they raised servers’ base wages and established a revenue share program at most of our restaurants, wherein employees can share in the financial performance of the business, and succeed when the restaurant succeeds. He adds, “We also implemented a career path with clear guidelines for advancement so that our team can earn promotions and raises through merit and hard work, rather than through guest-given gratuity or at the whim of the schedule.”
A host of restaurateurs have since followed Meyer’s lead. Among them is Andrew Tarlow, owner of six popular Brooklyn eateries. In 2015, Tarlow announced he’d work toward eliminating tipping at all of his establishments. Yesterday, he announced two more of them—Marlow and Sons and Diner—are ready to take the plunge.
Wages for cooks at Marlow and Diner will rise immediately to at least $14 per hour, while waiters will see their base wages jump up from the tipped minimum, currently $7.50 per hour, to $13 per hour, a number that coincides with what will be NYC’s minimum wage requirements for most of 2018. The hourly rate for waiters will be supplemented by weekly revenue share.
As far as wider industry complaints from staff regarding less pay, Tarlow says his hospitality group has added hours for some people to make sure they earn enough on a weekly or monthly basis. He adds that while Roman’s has lost a few servers after the switch, he’s not seen abnormal turnover at Reynard or the Ides.
We commend restaurateurs like Danny Meyer and Andrew Tarlow for taking steps to ensure dignity and equity for all people who work at their restaurants. ROC United recognizes that there are many ways to forge a fairer restaurant industry. Through One Fair Wage, we can eliminate the subminimum wage system. By doing so, we ensure everyone receives a fair, living wage before tips. To be clear, One Fair Wage is not about eliminating the practice of tipping. It is about ensuring tipping is a bonus, not a base wage.
Our movement is growing stronger everyday. However, it needs your support to thrive. A donation of just $20 today will go a long way toward ensuring ROC United has the resources necessary to forge a restaurant industry where everyone can support their families and improve their quality of life.