Being a server isn’t easy — and I write this as an eight-year city trainer veteran of “the place formerly known as ‘the house with flair’ and drones.”
A multitude of problems that can go wrong seem to do so on any given night…and then there’s the pay scale.
Waiting tables is the closest thing to working on commission that many people will ever experience. The mandated wage for servers is only $2.83 an hour…plus tips. You have to rely on other people being generous for your livelihood, and most of the time, that does not happen.
So, one bistro in Pittsburgh decided to buck the trend and err on the side of good workers in such a huge way — they became real employees.
The tip is one of the most subjective things on the planet.; consider it a PR battle with servers playing the role of friendly practitioners.
Bar Marco in Pittsburgh recently bypassed that relationship, making headlines and schooling the rest of the industry in the process.
According to local alternative outlet Next Pittsburgh, starting this April, Bar Marco will stop accepting tips and start paying its full-time servers $35,000 a year, plus health care, paid vacation, and shares in the company.
According to a recent Mother Jones article, up to 40 percent of restaurant workers live in near-poverty and less than 15 percent of restaurant workers have employer-sponsored health insurance compared to 42 percent for other industries.
“We’ve been watching the data all year. I put together what we have to do to pay the front and back equally and pay them well and give them a share of the upsides,” says Bar Marco co-owner, Bobby Fry.
The only upside seems to be for the server, but if you ask Fry, restaurants can benefit as well.
“Every restaurant does it a little bit differently. Some restaurants charge a 20 percent service fee—I don’t think that will work well for us. Our plan hinges on hitting revenues—mainly the expansion of the wine room where gratuity and tax have been included since it launched.”
Instead of the current two ticketed seatings, the restaurant will now take reservations. “Six courses for $65, plus wine pairings for an additional $40,” says Fry. “We have also put together a great team in the kitchen. Our menu will change subtly—with dishes that offer more depth.”
Is this the end of the tip for full service establishments? Will the industry at large follow suit? Current and former servers, the floor is yours.