More than 100 bars and restaurants want exceptions in city minimum wage

Matthew Hintz, Star Tribune

Matthew Hintz, Star Tribune

Minneapolis restaurant owners have had anxiety for months.

They're worried about the prospect of a city-wide minimum wage hike, one that would eventually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all employees, including those who receive tips.

Many smaller, independent restaurateurs say  such an increase could potentially ruin them. Traditionally, gratuity from the public boosts a server’s low hourly pay, sometimes (though not always) increasing it to well above $15 an hour. If restaurants are suddenly responsible for meeting that $15 minimum wage for all employees, it will increase their labor costs (and labor taxes) to such a degree, many insist they will have to change their business model, or close their doors.

Some of the best chefs and restaurant owners in town are weighing in against the increase for tipped employees. Instead, they're supporting a "Pathway to 15" campaign that calls for phasing in the changes slowly, and creating a “tip credit" -- a measure that would include an employee's earned tips in that minimum hourly wage.

In the tip credit system, if an employee's tips plus the state minimum wage (currently $9.50) total over $15 an hour, the employer would not be responsible for paying the $15-an-hour minimum wage. If the sum of the employee's tips plus the state minimum wage comes in under $15 an hour, the employer would pay the server the difference.

But some are doubling down on the strict $15 figure. Mayor Betsy Hodges issued a statement last week stating that tip “penalties” (her preferred term, instead of tip "credits") are bad, especially for women. She dismissed the assumption that a majority of servers are making far more than $15; on average, she wrote, servers actually make little more than $10 hourly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yet many servers are vehemently against the potential changes, in part, they say, because the effort could actually decrease their hourly rate of pay. A 2014 study by the Minnesota Restaurant Association found that statewide, servers’ income averages $18 an hour with the current minimum wage and tips, and that the figure is $22 in the metro area.

Sarah Webster Norton, a career server and the administrator of the Facebook group Service Industry Staff for Change, says that the proposed model jeopardizes her livelihood and that of her peers. “As a whole, servers and bartenders in Minneapolis support wage increases for staff that do not receive tips. We ask that such increases don’t come at our expense, something that will surely happen if a tip credit is not established.”

Below is the Pathway to 15 campaign's proposed phase-in schedule for the increase, and a list of establishments that have signed on in support of the campaign. 


Alibi Lounge


The Anchor Fish & Chips

Annie's Parlour


Be’Wiched Deli

Betty Danger's Country Club

Blarney Pub and Grill—Dinkytown

Blarney Pub and Grill—Downtown

Brasa Rotisserie


Brit's Pub & Eating Establishment

Broders’ Cucina Italiana

Broders’ Pasta Bar

Bryant Lake Bowl

The Bulldog Downtown

The Bulldog Uptown

Bull's Horn

Burger Jones: Restaurant and Cocktail Bar

Cardinal Restaurant and Bar

Chino Latino

Colossal Café


The Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen

Corner Table Restaurant

Coup ďétat

D. Brian's Deli and Catering- Campbell Mithun Skyway

D. Brian's Deli and Catering- Downtown East Skyway

D. Brian's Deli and Catering- U.S. Bank Skyway

Darby’s Pub and Grill

Davanni's Pizza & Hot Hoagies- Downtown

Davanni's Pizza & Hot Hoagies- Riverside

Davanni's Pizza & Hot Hoagies- Uptown

The Draft Horse

The Exchange

The Freehouse

Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit

George and the Dragon

Greenfield Natural Kitchen- Skyway #1

Greenfield Natural Kitchen- Skyway #2

Hola Arepa

Hot Indian Foods

Howe Daily Kitchen and Bar

J.D. Hoyt’s Supper Club

Jax Café

Keegan’s Irish Pub

Kieran’s Irish Pub

Kitchen in the Market

Kitty Cat Klub


The Living Room

The Local

Longfellow Grill

The Loop

The Lowry

Lyon’s Pub

The Malt Shop

Manny’s Steakhouse

Marin Restaurant and Bar

Mercado by Earl Giles

Mercury Dining Room and Rail

Milkjam Creamery


The Monte Carlo Restaurant

Muse Event Center

MyBurger Calhoun

MyBurger Skyway

MyBurger Stadium Village

N.E. Yacht Club

Parkway Pizza


Pat's Tap


Pizza Luce Downtown

Pizza Luce Seward/University

Pizza Luce Uptown

Pizzeria Lola

The Pourhouse

Pracna on Main

Prohibition Bar

Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge

The Rabbit Hole

Rainbow Restaurant & Bar

Red Cow- North Loop

Red Cow- 50th St

Red Rabbit

Red Savoy's Pizza- Minneapolis

Red Savoy's Pizza- Uptown

Red Stag Supperclub

REV Ultra Lounge

Revival- Minneapolis


The Saloon



Shindig Event Center


St. Anthony Main Theatre

Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room

Stanley’s on Wheels Food Truck


Tinto Cocina + Cantina

Tiny Diner

Union Bar & Grill

Urban Eatery

Victor's 1959 Cafe 

World Street Kitchen- Food Truck

World Street Kitchen-Restaurant

Young Joni

Zen Box Izakaya

5-8 Club - Minneapolis

508 Restaurant and Bar

An earlier version of this article included information about an employee at a local restaurant. There was a miscommunication about the employee's rate of pay and the text has since been updated.