Chicago Restaurants

Restaurant Rids of Tipping to Support Staff

The Logan Square brew pub is instead adding a service fee, part of a growing trend in the industry

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A trend restaurant patrons may see more often: forget the tip, but the policy comes at a cost.

Instead of a tip line, some eateries are turning to an added service fee.

Customers at Middle Brow's brew pub, Bungalow, will now be charged 10% to 15% more on their bill instead of being asked to leave a tip.

"We’ve never liked the tipping system," co-founder Pete Turnes said. "Tips tend to be sexist. There’s a lot of racism in tipping, so it’s unfair. It leads to an unfair system."

The brewery, also known for its pizza and sourdough bread, said its customers have not pushed back on the new policy, and the owners hope it encourages more restaurants to do the same.

"The wages across the board will go up," Turnes said. "Back of house workers will make more money per hour. Front of house workers will make less money per hour, but in all cases more money in a given year than they made under the old system."

Turnes and his partners said they'll use the money to pay higher base wages and contribute to staff healthcare plans. The idea isn't new, but is growing in popularity.

Middle Brow was inspired by Honey Butter Fried Chicken, which rid of tips in 2016. The Alinea Group also rid of tipping in favor of a service fee in 2010.

"I hope other restaurants and other food businesses around town can get a tiny little bit of inspiration from our decision. And altogether, we can help change the culture in this city, or at least in this neighborhood, [which will] lead to a more sustainable restaurant industry long term," Turnes said.

The minimum wage in Illinois is $10.00 per hour for workers 18 years and older. An employer with tipped workers is only required to pay 60% of the minimum wage to its employees.

"It’s unethical and unfair, and it’s a bad way to run a business, but it’s entrenched in our culture," Turnes said.

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