“Tips don’t make any sense if you think about it,” says Danny Schwartzman, owner of Common Roots Cafe. “It’s just what everyone does.”
Along with Butter Bakery, Schwartzman's Common Roots has eliminated tipping, starting earlier this week. Schwartzman has raised menu prices slightly (roughly 15 percent) and is putting that money toward higher wages. All Common Roots employees now make at least $15 hourly with health benefits including paid time off and a retirement contribution match.
Eliminating tipping has been an evolving process, Schwartzman says, but thus far it’s been positive. Common Roots received over 1,000 likes on its Facebook announcement regarding the change, and Schwartzman says he hasn’t received any negative face-to-face feedback.
Common Roots has always been about values, says Schwartzman, and paying people equitably is part of that value system.
He believes most customers do care about the employees where they shop, and probably wouldn’t feel good about the “low wages and challenging work environments" that are sometimes the effect of tipped environments.
There is prominent signage in the restaurant announcing the change, and they’ve been doing a lot of online messaging as well:
"We have adjusted our prices to guarantee all staff a fair wage and benefits, without added tips. We believe it’s our job as employers to price fair wages in, even if that’s not the norm in our industry.
Now, the real cost of paying all our employees a fair and decent wage plus benefits is built into the price of the meal you eat. You don’t need to worry about how much to tip, and our staff doesn’t need to worry about fluctuations in their income based on the generosity of our customers," reads the beginning of a passage under the header "Fair Wages, No Tips."
Butter Bakery Cafe could not immediately be reached for comment, but had this message on its Facebook Page:
“. . . without a huge change in anything but how customers count out their total bill, we've moved to paying all staff hourly wages that will be fair compensation for their efforts and help meet my personal goal of being a neighborhood cafe that can pay living wages sustainably.”