Blue Plate responds to minimum wage increase by dipping into servers' tips
:::: UPDATE :::: Blue Plate backtracks, will no longer dip into servers' tips
On August 1, Blue Plate Restaurant Company notified employees at each of its eight locations (including the Freehouse, the Lowry, and Longfellow Grill) that as per Minnesota's incremental minimum wage increase, wages would indeed be raised by $0.75 per hour.
The good news didn't last. After telling employees that they "want [the raise] to be visible in the warm welcome and bright smile you bring to our guests," Blue Plate explained that due to increased expenses resulting from the raise, the company will take 2 percent of all tips paid with a credit card in addition to taxes servers already pay, reports the Star Tribune. See also: River Oasis Cafe getting killed for "Min Wage Fee" on Yelp
Blue Plate will take a $1.25 million blow as a result of the increase coupled with rising health care expenses, but with eight bustling Twin Cities restaurants, it's likely that the minimum wage increase barely makes a dent.
Charging servers a percentage of their tips is nothing new for Parasole Restaurant Holdings (owners of Burger Jones, Chino Latino, Manny's Steakhouse, and more), who have engaged in the practice since September 2011. Last week, City Pages wrote about Stillwater's River Oasis Restaurant after they started charging customers a minimum wage fee of $0.35 on each bill. Customers have since retaliated by bombarding Oasis' Yelp page with negative feedback.
In the past few days, local restaurant owners and foodies alike voiced their disdain on Twitter for Blue Plate's new practice. We've gathered some of the highlights:
Tim Niver, owner of the Strip Club, was particularly riled up by Blue Plate's decision.
Niver joked back and forth with Birchwood Cafe about Blue Plate's "private jet."
Chef Andrew Zimmern was as heated as Niver.
Meanwhile, WCCO's Jason DeRusha took a more neutral approach.
What do you think? Do you agree with Blue Plate's solution, or are you more inclined to side with Niver and Zimmern?
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