(WASHINGTONPOST) — On a busy Friday night in New York’s East Village, the friendly and efficient servers at Dirt Candy took home zero dollars in tips, but they considered it a good night. When you’re a server on salary — rather than relying on often-mercurial guests for your financial livelihood — every night is a good night.
The vegetarian restaurant is one of a handful of eateries across the country that are experimenting with a new model of compensating employees, with varying results. When Dirt Candy reopened in a larger space last month, chef-owner Amanda Cohen announced she was eliminating the line to write in a tip on her checks. Instead, a 20 percent “administrative fee” is tacked onto every bill and goes toward employee salaries, for both servers and cooks. The starting salary at Dirt Candy is $15 an hour, nearly twice the minimum wage in New York ($8.75), and three times the minimum wage for food service employees ($5) who get tips.
“Everybody works for me,” said Cohen. “I should be the one to pay them.”
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