Restaurant Owner says Tips Do Disservice to Workers

Business, Life

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Jay Porter, the owner and team leader over at the Linkery had an epiphany one day, and decided his San Diego restaurant should axe its tipping policy in favor of an 18 percent service charge on every check. That percentage, he says, is less than their tip average was before the change, and yet had magnanimous results on the workers he employed.

The increased cost was passed on to dine-in customers, and Porter described the upcharge as "analogous to that of a tipped restaurant." He used the system initially to redistribute the tips more equitably and to include the cooks on the action until this year, when they closed the Linkery and moved to San Francisco.

Porter discovered to his surprise that almost every aspect of his restaurant improved with the implementation of the service charge: the food was better, server morale was higher, and the entire business boomed. As far as Porter was concerned, the service "improved principally because eliminating tips makes it easier to provide good service."

Before his restaurant, Porter was in the technology business and designed software for television boxes. His pay was laid out in meetings or as he completed projects and he notes two facts about the efficiency of his previous job: "we weren’t interrupted every hour or so with a trickle of payment that was supposedly based on how well were perceived to have done a recent task... [and] we were compensated by, and we negotiated with, the organization that employed us, not the consumers who benefited from our work."

Porter is ready for those naysayers who believe a server cannot be incentivized to do a good job through wages, although he finds the implication a bit ridiculous.

"Servers are motivated to do a good job in the same ways that everyone else is," he wrote. "Servers want to keep their jobs; servers want to get a raise; servers want to be successful and see themselves as professionals and take pride in their work. In any workplace, everyone is required perform well, and tips have nothing to do with it."

Read the full story at Slate here.