Free beer and wine, no tipping at new St. Paul restaurant

Nathan Docken is trying to break boundaries in the local restaurant industry.

This is an intriguing setup from a new restaurant in St. Paul.

Here's how it works: You pay $65 (though it's $45 this weekend) for a six-course fine-dining meal, and you get free beer or wine.

You don't tip either, instead an 18 percent service charge is added to your bill.

That's the way they're doing things at Just/Us, which has recently had its soft opening at 465 Wabasha St. N.

It's the brainchild of Nathan Docken, formerly of The Buttered Tin, Coup D'Etat, and Mattie's on Main, who according to his GoFundMe page is seeking to change the way restaurants operate.

Just/Us is not just run by chefs, it's owned by them as well, with each chef taking a portion of the profits from the restaurant.

In lieu of tipping, Just/Us implements a service charge, which according to its website means "we can pay out the charge to everyone who works with us, no matter their role."

Speaking to the Business Journal, Docken says the service charge will go to staff wages, or the team can decide they want to put the funds into remodeling or food orders. 

He told the magazine he's grown frustrated with the overworked/underpaid perception of the restaurant industry. At Just/Us, the chefs and manager start at $40,000 salaries, while dishwashers will be paid $17 an hour.

We've also got to give the restaurant props for its membership scheme, which is brilliantly called the Just/Us League.

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