2 Minneapolis cafes eliminate tipping and raise staff wages

The future of tipping is under the microscope as Minneapolis considers a $15 minimum wage.
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Two Minneapolis cafes announced this week they've eliminated tipping, and are raising the pay for their employees.

Common Roots Cafe (2558 Lyndale Ave. S.) and Butter Bakery Cafe (3700 Nicollet Ave. S.) informed their customers of the change by posting signs in their establishments and on their social media accounts.

In a lengthy explainer, Common Roots Cafe says it will be raising the pay of its staff from at least $11.40 per hour to a minimum of $15 per hour, plus benefits. As a result it won't be accepting tips, something the cafe said "never felt right for our business." To cover the extra cost, prices are rising 15 percent.

"We believe all people, regardless of where they work, should make a fair wage and should not have to depend on tips as a major part of their compensation," the cafe's Facebook post said, adding: "We think of this [as] a small step we can take toward making the restaurant industry more equitable and to make our workplace stronger and more supportive of all staff."

The Butter Bakery Cafe posted a shorter message to customers on Tuesday, saying that it has "built fair wages into our menu prices" and is now a "tip free" eatery.

Other restaurants in the cities have experimented with no tipping policies before but they've not always been successful. WCCO reports Upton 43 and Victory 44 ended their no-tipping policy last March after a trial run.

Chef and owner of both establishments, Erick Harcey, said it actually went over well with customers and staff members, but caused the restaurants to be priced out with competitors who didn't have the same policy.

Tipping under the microscope in Minneapolis

The shift in policy at the two cafes comes amidst a wider wage discussion. Minneapolis is considering plans to implement a city-wide, $15-an-hour minimum wage, something that some in the restaurant industry are opposed to.

Mayor Betsy Hodges wants the city's new minimum wage policy to not include a "tip credit." That's where tips are used to top up the earnings of wait staff, getting them up to or above minimum wage levels.

But a coalition of Twin Cities restaurants are objecting to the proposal, saying that thanks to tips, some workers actually make more than $15 an hour and would end up making less if restaurants were forced to pay a higher base salary.

It would also mean menu price hikes that could potentially cost jobs if customers shy away, even though they wouldn't necessarily have to tip.

The minimum wage in Minnesota is currently $7.75 for small businesses and $9.50 for large.

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