A second restaurant in the state of Pennsylvania has done away with tipping. However, unlike Philadelphia’s French bistro Girard, Pittsburgh’s Bar Marco is going beyond paying a ‘living wage’ of around $11 an hour by going all in on both salary and benefits.
By the end of the year, 20 full time employees will sign contracts with Bar Marco and receive a salaries of $35,000 a year, health care, and 500 shares in the company. Via the Eater:
Employees will be asked to work a maximum of 40 to 44 hours per week, will have two days and one night off a week, and will receive 10 paid vacation days per year. Co-owner Robert Fry tells Eater, “America needs to realize that working in the restaurant industry is an occupation.“
Fry came up with the plan in cooperation with the restaurant’s staff. He says he will neither raise prices or add a service fee to customer’s bills. This means the success of the plan depends on the energetic participation of the employees. If the restaurant fails, the stability of a salary and benefits will disappear.
In most European countries, as well as Japan and China, tipping isn’t customary. Many Europeans feel that tipping allows employers to get away with paying employees less than they’re worth, under the pretense that they make up the difference in tips.
At the same time, I’ve come across my share of people that believe service would get worse if tipping wasn’t there to coax good service out of waiters. Bar Marco’s plan accounts for that worry, with incentives for employees to keep customers happy and coming back. But it remains to be seen whether this sort of invested employee model in the service sector can solve the problems restaurants are typically plagued by — including high turnover and morale, which are costly in terms of productivity.
It’s also the sort of sea change that service industry advocates like the SEIU and other living wage groups have been saying can work for decades — that invested employees will work harder and better for better wages and stability, just like they do in other industries.
Fry tells Eater that all employees are on board and have signed contracts. He told Next Pittsburgh that with the salary comes other expectations: They will have a lot of responsibilities, too like being present at bi-monthly finance meetings. We want complete transparency. We want people who want to be part of what we are doing and who want to grow with us.”