“Bayfield County’s Delta Diner implements no-tip policy”
Duluth News Tribune
DELTA — When the wait staff at Northwestern Wisconsin’s Delta Diner greet people at the table and describe the menu, their income no longer relies on tips.
On June 1, the popular diner in rural Bayfield County, south of Iron River, started adding a 20 percent staffing charge — with the money designated for employee wages. Now the adult staff members are paid a minimum of $15 per hour — and some more than that — for their efforts toward the success of the business. College and high school students earn a minimum of $10 per hour, or more based on merit.
Tips simply didn’t work to support the business model, said owner Todd Bucher. He said that while staff made good money before, the change allows the staff to earn a more consistent wage and for all staff to be paid equitably.
After all, they are the professionals who execute the business model, Bucher said.
“I was in marketing before this,” Bucher said. “I would have hired any one of these people there as well.”
Bucher said he decided to add the staffing charge rather than simply raise prices to ensure the additional revenue goes directly to employee wages. Instead of receiving a bill for the cost of food and beverages alone, the bill includes the 20 percent staffing charge and no tips are accepted.
“It allows us to earn a livable wage without relying on tips,” said hostess Sarah Mathies. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
The restaurant also is implementing an “aggressive” bonus program for its staff.
The no-tipping concept has been well-received by the public, judging by comments on the diner’s Facebook page.
“I like the sounds of this, good for you,” Ed Callahan wrote. “I’ll be seeing you guys this weekend. I expect twice.”
While a few expressed concern about limiting the earning potential of wait staff, most congratulated Bucher on the change.
“Well done Todd,” Dany Pino posted on Facebook. “Getting and keeping professional staff is the heartbeat of any small business. With your policy, you have transferred your growth model directly to your staff allowing them to share in both the growth and success of your passion.”