ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As you dine outdoors or order takeout from some local restaurants, you may see one item missing: the line to leave a tip. Metro restaurants say the pandemic is bringing them new ways of doing business.
“The shutdown weirdly gave me a perspective that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, just time to look and reflect,” said Erin Wade, owner of Vinaigrette. “Service is an important profession. It’s an important part of what we do.”
That new perspective: doing away with tips. Wade says it’s a move that’s been in the works for a while.
“There’s no tip line on your check at the end of the meal,” said Wade. “We’re discouraging people from leaving cash tips.”
Wade says prices have been raised at her three locations in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Austin, Texas. The increased prices include service, paying what she says is a fair wage for all workers.
“I felt this was a much safer way for me to ask my staff in a very uncertain, dangerous times, to come back,” said Wade. “I want to be able to give them a dependable income. Something they can count on.”
She says it also helps when business slows during the pandemic, which would normally leave few tips for workers. Wade says employees are warming up to the idea.
“We had some people who were upset at first, but then they experienced some slow days in the restaurants and how unpredictable sales are right now, and they were getting paid,” said Wade. “They were getting a solid wage.”
Vinaigrette isn’t the only business taking out tips. Bosque Brewing announced they’re also doing away with tips, making it possible for employees impacted by the limited operations, to qualify for state unemployment and the weekly federal pandemic relief. In lieu of a tip line, they’re accepting donations that will be matched for a brewing education scholarship fund.
Wade hopes customers help make the ‘tipless’ change seamless. She also hope the trend catches on with other New Mexico restaurants.
“I hope more restaurants follow suit because what better time than now to make a big change,” said Wade. “You just leave and enjoy your experience and you have a deep connection with a server and you experience our restaurant, paying for what it costs.”
Bosque and Vinaigrette aren’t the first Metro businesses to go tipless. St. James Tearoom has left off a ‘tip’ option for a few years, saying they prefer to, instead, pay employees a living wage.
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