Some DC restaurants are not waiting to see if the minimum wage law for tipped employees changes.
They pay their waiters and bartenders what they call a living wage and in some cases waive tips.
For generations, bartenders and waiters have worked for tips, with their employers paying only about a third of the traditional minimum wage. In DC, it is $ 5.05 an hour compared to $ 15 an hour for workers without tips.
Some DC restaurants are changing the way they pay their staff and the way they bill their customers.
A handful of restaurants now charge an additional 15-22% and pay their waiters and bartenders like all the rest of the staff. This is the business model of The Duck and the Peach on Capitol Hill.
â22% living expenses, and we put that on all purchases, and that 22% goes to pay our staff directly. We pay everyone between $ 17 and $ 22 an hour, âsaid Holly Silverman, owner of The Duck and The Peach. âBeing able to provide a living wage so employees know how much they’re going to earn on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly basis is something that hasn’t been,â she said.
At 2Amys in the Upper Northwest, Peter Pastan has also increased the prices of his menus – around 23% – and he has removed tips. Customers will not see a tip line on their credit card bill.
After 20 years in business, he decided it was time for a change.
âSo I think it happens anyway and I’d rather be on the wave front than being dragged around kicking and screaming. We have come a long way. I think part of it relates to the pandemic, I think part of it relates to Black Lives Matter, but, you know, things have to change, âPastan said.
At The Duck and The Peach, customers always have the option of adding a tip if they wish.
So far, these two restaurateurs say that, for the most part, customers have been receptive to the change.
The Washington City Paper, which now publishes a list of those DC restaurants that are stepping away from tips, reported about a restaurant owner who waived the service charge after customers complained.
In 2018, DC voters approved Initiative 77 which would have raised the minimum wage for tipping workers, but the DC Council canceled it.
Now there is a new composition of the Council, and efforts are underway to get the question of how much to tip workers on the ballot for voters to decide again.
Supporters of increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers hope to have it on the ballot for next year’s June primary.