Being a server in a restaurant is hard work. You're on your feet all day, you have to deal with needy customers, and the pay can be downright terrible. In fact, most U.S. states permit employers to pay tipped workers less than the federal minimum wage. In 21 states, servers are paid only $2.13 an hour before tips. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, “nearly 15% of the nation's 2.4 million waiters and waitresses live in poverty, compared with about 7% of all workers. They are more likely to need public assistance and less likely to receive paid sick leave or health benefits."

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Lifestyle

Forget Tips, This Coffee Shop Pays Its Employees A Living Wage

At Kopplin’s Coffee Shop in St. Paul, Minnesota, tips are out, raises are in, and people are happy.

image via (cc) flickr user fajalar

Just over the Mississippi River, on the St. Paul side of Minnesota’s Twin Cities, is a block of neighborhood businesses which includes a boutique ice cream parlor, a small bakery, and Kopplin’s Coffee, a high end European-style coffee shop that’s been serving customers for nearly a decade. There, owners recently instituted a new policy that does away with one of the most recognizable coffee shop features – the tip jar. As of this past January, Andrew and wife Amanda Kopplin pay all their employees at least $12.50 an hour, a move designed to introduce a measure of stability in the lives – and paychecks – of those working a job not ordinarily known for its financial perks.

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Articles

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 wages are beholden to the whims of strangers, the shifts they're given, the time they start working, even the weather.

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