What’s the fairest way to compensate waitstaff?

Blue Plate Restaurant Group’s new eatery at the Minnesota State Fair. (Tim Nelson/MPR News)

The Blue Plate Restaurant Company drew fire for reducing its employees’ tips to make up for a hike in the minimum wage, but it’s now walking back on that decision.

Tim Nelson reports:

Owner David Burley says Blue Plate has dropped the controversial charge, and will also raise the pay for non-tipped staff to $9.69 an hour starting Sept. 1. That’s a premium above the state’s current $8 an hour minimum wage, which went into effect Aug. 1.

Today’s Question: Should waiters have to depend on tips? What is the fairest way to compensate waitstaff?

  • Gary F

    Don’t know. I’m expected to tip 15-20% whether my service is bad or good, right? And I I get lousy service and tip less I’m the bad guy, right? How much of the lousy service is the wait staff’s fault and not the cooks or someone else? How do I know who’s fault it is? The cook isn’t getting tipped but the waitress pays some of her tips to the bartender and bus boy at the end of the night? Why is that?

    But I do like the idea of more people working on commission and have more skin in the game. The more productive workers should get paid more, I guess that would be tips.

    • JQP

      Its frustrating because customers have to act like employers.. without getting a good look at what caused the good/bad service.
      drop the tips, pay the wait staff regular wages.. force the restaurant management to actually manage their staff…
      so you pay regardless and then complain if the wait staff were bad .. .and the manager.. who’s now paying full price for the waitstaff … has a motive to work on the item you complained about.

  • Sue de Nim

    The custom of tipping evolved from the old European custom of petty bribery, where anyone with any kind of gatekeeping power could be swayed to give priority service to those who greased their palms. When the custom first came to this country, it was considered by many to be un-American (and they were right). As practiced today, it’s demeaning to wait staff, and it allows restaurant managers to low-ball their prices on the menu. Tipping should be abolished, employers should pay a fair wage, and menus should have honest prices. If restauranteurs want to build some kind of commission into the compensation they give to wait staff, that’s up to them.

    • JQP

      Yup. pay waitstaff regular wages, make employers report the income, make waitstaff report income … lets get rid of the gray/black market.

  • WayneTC

    Restaurant workers should be paid in full by their employers, and prices should reflect that. It’s not my job to manage a restaurant’s employees by evaluating their service and deciding their pay, that is the manager’s job. It’s my role to be a customer, relax and enjoy the company I am with.
    Some people don’t care if their tips are less, they’re more interested in socializing with other staff or friends who are visiting. Tipping them less accomplishes nothing. The incentive should be keeping their job not earning more, I can’t fire anyone, only the manager can.

    • JQP

      yup- they bring you food, they get paid. its not a choice because you like them or not .. whether you help them to pay rent.

  • PaulJ

    They could unionize. Then they wouldn’t have to continue the unseemly practice of pleading for higher wages, they could demand them.

  • James

    Be careful what you wish for Wayne, Sue, JQP, etc. Teachers are paid a fair wage, with
    little or no opportunity to affect their pay, and look what we have today! I suspect a compromise where waiters get a decent base pay ($10/hour at least) with an “expected tip” of 5% or so with upside for great work and downside for terrible work would be best for all concerned.

  • Keith

    Part of the problem I have with tipping is who should get tipped? Why is a waitress or a bartender any different than the grocery store clerk or the person who directs you to the right aisle at Home Depot? Why would you tip a waitress and not tip the kid behind the counter at McDonalds? They are both delivering food to you. The better question is why tip a waitress when you don’t tip the fast food person? The “societal expectation” part of that is irrelevant – what constitutes a “tippable” service?

  • Pearly

    Merit?