Aaron Cassara


At One Austin Restaurant, a Living Wage Doesn't Depend on Tips

Black Star Co-op, a cooperative restaurant and brewery, doesn't believe in tipping.

Upon first glance, Austin's Black Star Co-op in Austin looks like any normal hipster restaurant serving craft beers and creative pub food like portobello burgers and redfish po' boys. But as a former waitress, I immediately noticed what was missing: a tip jar. When I inquired, the bartender told me he didn't take tips. Why? Because he makes a living wage.

Black Star Co-op, the first cooperatively owned microbrewery-restaurant in the country, offers their "worker's assembly" a wage of at least $16 a hour. The co-op provides health insurance and bonuses, too. After a yearlong apprenticeship, every worker also has the duties of a manager—they can hire and fire, get access to the books, and make financial decisions. And they've banned tipping on principle. Service workers elsewhere can make more than $16 an hour on a busy night, but their wagesare beholden to the whims of strangers, the shifts they're given, the time they start working, even the weather.

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