Joe’s Crab Shack chain tries no-tipping

joes crab shack crab legs

In what may be the first significant trial of a no-tipping policy by a full-service chain, Joe’s Crab Shack has switched the servers at 18 units to a set wage and alerted customers they no longer are expected to tip.

Servers will be paid a wage starting at $14 an hour, though the exact amount will vary from server to server on the basis of their past performance, according to the chain’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group.

The money to pay the waiters and waitresses is being generated by a price increase of 12 percent to 15 percent, Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette told investors late last week.

He revealed that the test began in August but was still being rolled into some restaurants as recently as last Tuesday.

Ignite expects the switch to a wage to reduce server turnover. A $14 hourly wage sounds much better than $2.13, which is the wage they’d get, sans tips, at competing restaurants, noted Blanchette. It’s also a yellow light to servers who know they’ll likely start with the least-lucrative shifts if they move to another restaurant.

He also noted a wage model solves some service problems for Joe’s. Waiters and waitresses usually balk at having someone help them with a big table because then they have to split the tip. Joe’s, which has a number of large parties, won’t have to deal with that at the 18 test cites, said Blanchette.

He added that customers who tip generously may end up spending less for a meal than they previously did, since the price increases levied at the test store are less than 20 percent.

Blanchette said the test will likely run through the rest of the year, and there are no plans as yet to begin a similar trial in Ignite’s other restaurant holding, the Brick House sports-bar concept.

A number of high-profile independent restaurants have recently decided to replace tipping within their restaurants with a set wage for servers. Joe’s appears to be the first chain to try the switch.

“We’re really leading in our industry with regards to national brand going out and testing this thing in a meaningful way,” said Blanchette. “So we want to be somewhat cautious.”

Today's top stories

1
While Asian fare, from Japanese noodle bowls to Korean fried chicken, is a huge hit with today’s consumers, its popularity is only going to continue to boom. Technomic’s 2017 Top 500 Chains...
2
Domino’s proved once again it’s dodging the sales slowdown hamstringing other restaurant operations, posting a 10.2% domestic same-store sales gain for the first quarter. The leap in sales follows a...
3
The Food and Drug Administration is pushing back enforcement of menu labeling requirements for chain restaurants and retailers from the scheduled start day of May 5, according to a group lobbying for...
4
Cash may still be king, but a huge asterisk is being slapped atop that truism as it applies to restaurants. The number of places looking to forgo currency and accept only cashless payments, and app-...
5
It is a commendable goal to look at performance metrics to make sure your employees are performing to their potential and have incentive to excel. On the surface, there is nothing preventing an...
6
Much like food trucks before them, food halls are the new go-to format for incubating a restaurant concept. Chef Andrew Gruel knows this well. Gruel’s California-based fast-casual sustainable fish...
7
After revealing dramatic indications that a sales rebound is underway , Chipotle acknowledged more misfortune yesterday, warning customers that some personal information may have been swiped by...
8
Chipotle proved today its recovery drive is finding traction , posting a same-store sales gain of 17.8% for the first quarter of 2017 and an expansion of store-level operating margins to 17.7%,...
9
With more consumers expressing an interest in “free-from” foods and wanting to know the origin of their next meal, operators across segments are taking a more transparent approach to menu creation...
10
Consumers continue to show interest in clean, natural ingredients on restaurant menus. It’s easy to see why: Mandatory nutrition labeling for chain restaurant menus has pushed the idea of...