Put away the calculator and enjoy dessert: There's no more tipping at Joe's Crab Shack, the first national full-service chain restaurant to test a no-tipping policy, Consumerist reports. In a conference call last week, Ray Blanchette, CEO of parent company Ignite Restaurant Group, told investors that 18 of its 131 units are trying out the no-tipping policy that began in August, making up for lost tips by upping servers' starting minimum wage to $14 an hour from $2.13 (exact pay depends on work performance), Restaurant Business Online reports. The goal: to prevent staff turnover and improve service. "I personally believe tipping is an antiquated model," Blanchette said in the call, per the OC Register. "The no-tipping service model gets us above the fray with regards to the increased minimum wage conversations that seem to be happening all over the country."
Blanchette explained that, in addition to servers being more likely to stick around for the long haul with a higher hourly wage, they'd also be guaranteed the same pay whether they worked a dead shift on a Monday afternoon or a busy Friday night, per National Restaurant News. And service would likely improve, too, he noted, especially when servers start sharing table duties for large parties (instead of getting territorial over a table for an anticipated big tip). The wage increase is paid for by raising menu prices 12% to 15%—which could still save customers money if they usually tip 18% or more. Results so far have been positive. "What makes us optimistic is the restaurant that has been in test the longest is gaining the most traction," Blanchette tells NRN. Consumerist notes that the parent company of 13 well-known NYC restaurants has been testing its own no-tipping policy since October, leveling wages between front-house and kitchen staff. (A NYT writer says tipping is "degrading" to women.)