Working in the restaurant industry often means working long hours, smiling through sometimes negative customer encounters, and providing excellent service in hopes that customers decide to tip appropriately or even generously. Many servers in traditional restaurants make as low as $2.33 per hour from their employer — and the rest is expected to be made up in tips. Serving is far from an easy job, and compensation is dependent on customers who might not be aware of just how crucial their tips are to the server. We’d like to point out some issues with this:

  • We’re all human. Sometimes servers have bad days or have hard things happening in their lives and don’t perform at their highest level — which could then result in customers deciding to tip less. Conversely, a server might provide excellent service to a customer who’s having a bad day and reflects this in their tip — a low tip for the server despite great service.

  • Tips from a customer who has biases against their server due to their race, gender, age, etc, often reflect these biases in the form of low tips regardless of level of service.

  • If the restaurant happens to have a slow day, a server might be required to stay on the clock regardless. This effectively means that this server would not be compensated for their time, because of a lack of customers to tip them. Servers sometimes cannot depend on their paychecks.

  • At busy, successful restaurants, a skilled server might make a great salary — that’s awesome! But at these restaurants, cooks don’t get tipped out. This results in cooks making significantly less than servers, even though they are intimately involved with the customer’s experience and are largely responsible for making it a great one. Animosity can develop between front-of-house and back-of-house because of this.

  • A competitive culture can develop between front of house staff because of tips, resulting in less teamwork and more issues between employees.

  • You, the customer, have already paid for your meal. Why should you also be expected to pay the wage of your server?

Here at Short Stack, when you leave a tip either when you sign your receipt, in our jars, or at the table, you are supporting everyone that works at this restaurant — dishwashers, cooks, and front of house folks alike. We pay each employee above minimum wage, and do our best to pay them their living wages when possible (see THIS BLOG POST for more information about minimum wage vs living wage!). This means that your generous tips are an extremely appreciated addition to each employees paycheck — but they are not necessary as is the case at other restaurants with traditional tipping structure. We have chosen this model for many reasons:

  • Employees can count on a certain amount of money based on the number of hours they worked, regardless of how busy the restaurant is on their shifts.

  • Our cooks and dishwashers are shown much-deserved appreciation.

  • The divide between front-of-house and back-of-house is greatly reduced, resulting in a team-oriented and supportive culture.

  • Everyone works together to help each other deliver excellent service, encouraged by the knowledge that no one person will benefit more than the other.

While we recognize that tipping can make serving a very lucrative job or career at some restaurants, this is not the case at many. There are so many variables that can affect a server’s wage when dependent on tips, which we find to be unfair and outdated. We value our positive and collaboration-oriented work environment, and believe that our tipping structure is one major foundational aspect that leads to this.