Patricia Cohen in the NYT:
Chelsea Krumpler, a waitress at Manos Nouveau in San Francisco, said that many waiters she knows were skeptical of her $25-an-hour wage and no tips. But she says she is earning as much as before with no worries about slow nights.
“It’s a little more secure,” said Ms. Krumpler, who has worked as a waitress for seven years. The policy has also drawn the staff closer together. “It’s more of a family,” she said.
Brian Keyser, the owner of Casellula restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, would prefer to end tipping but does not think his staff members or his diners are ready to accept it.
Now he must contend with a minimum wage for tipped workers that is rising in New York. That means giving his servers a $2.50-an-hour raise — even if they are already pulling in about $25 an hour in tips. “I have a kitchen full of people making far, far less than that, and I would love to give them that money, but I can’t,” Mr. Keyser said.
Coi, Mr. Patterson’s two-Michelin-star restaurant, has had all-inclusive pricing since it opened in 2006. He tried the same strategy when he opened Aster in the Mission District a few months ago, and quickly realized it was not going to work.
“I really believe in that model, but our customers didn’t want it,” Mr. Patterson said, because they thought it was too expensive. “It’s about perception,” he said. “It’s not just about the dollars you’re spending, but what you think you’re spending.”
At the Walrus and the Carpenter, the owner Renee Erickson has been adjusting her no-tipping experiment. Although she originally wanted to adopt an all-inclusive menu, she “worried we weren’t going to have the opportunity to explain why our prices were so much higher than the restaurant right next door.”
Instead, she added an 18 percent service charge. But it did not generate enough money to cover the added labor costs. So she bumped the charge up to 20 percent and shrank the owners’ share.
As the weeks went by, she and her partner kept adjusting the percentage that went to the kitchen workers. To get the staff on board, she decided to let everyone see the payroll spreadsheets, so they could understand how the money was being allocated.
A cultural problem that really needs to be fixed. The people in the back of house are working just as hard, but they get paid minimum wage, where the servers are making good money. It is illegal for owners to pool tips and share with back of house, so looks like service charges and no tipping allowed is the only way out.