Now, the CEO of Brinker International, Wyman Roberts, has weighed in on the issue of tipping at Chili’s Bar & Grill and Maggiano’s, saying during an interview at the ICR Conference:
We like it (tipping) from the standpoint of it allows servers to really understand the importance of great service and what’s in it for them when they provide great service.
Interestingly, a similar logic has been used to explain the rationale behind some restaurant owners’ decisions to eliminate tipping altogether. Although some restaurant owners see tipping as an incentive to earn more by providing great service, other owners view the elimination of tipping as the most logical way to incentivize good service (see Danny Meyer). The question may be better characterized as being one of providing stability versus rewarding individual high performers, and to which incentive will restaurant staff be more responsive.
Ethan Snyder of Portland’s The Bent Brick and Park Kitchen – two restaurants that recently went tipless – deployed a similar argument in explaining their decision:
He (Snyder) said they're doing it (eliminating tips) for the benefit of their employees. Some of their servers only work part time and tips fluctuate…the idea is to pay employees a consistent living wage, even out pay between cooks and servers, and make sure nearly all their employees work full time and can qualify for benefits. He said the plan is to train cooks and servers to take on multiple roles. For instance, cooks could serve and servers would learn how to cook.
Snyder admits this plan may only be feasible because of their small staff.
With Millennials taking a majority share of the current workforce, the restaurant industry’s labor pool may be shifting in favor of the stability referenced above. Having lived through the Great Recession, data shows Millennials are risk-averse and less likely to start their own business. Only time will tell what role generational outlook could have on shaping the restaurant labor pool in the future.
As for that 18-unit experiment being conducted by Joe’s Crab Shack? The COO of Ignite revealed to attendees at the ICR Conference he was “cautiously optimistic” about the chain’s test. Ignite has no further plans to expand their no-tipping policy at this time.