Hello, and thanks for showing up here to read this.
We pride ourselves with creating rye based upon European village taverns or small eateries; our food has been inspired by the cuisines of the little towns of France, Spain and Italy, we have attempted to make restaurant feel like them as well. To better emulate European tipping culture we tried paying our front of house staff much higher wages than industry standards and removed the expectation of a gratuity. It was an experiment that we feel has run its course.
We started in June of 2020 when we were allowed to reopen in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as an effort to shore up uncertainty with what the future would bring. We had no idea what the restaurant industry was going to face, we assumed it would be bad, so we tried to provide for our staff in a way that would stabilize them in a very uncertain time. We feel we were successful in that.
2020 was a hard year for everyone, and it was especially hard on restaurants. We had multiple shutdowns, constantly changing rules for dining, eating inside/outside/capacity limits, fear, uncertainty and a major downturn in business. We were one of the few fortunate restaurants in that we had no significant debts, we had a loyal clientele, generous landlords and we were blessed with staff that worked with us to continue to be open when instead we could have simply given up.
The business applied for and was given PPP money. We used it to pay our staff higher wages despite the downturn in business, to deal with government shutdowns, to pay our bills and to reopen. A couple of times. Basically, like it did for most everyone else, 2020 sucked for us. But we used the support from the government, our staff’s creativity and the graciousness from the community to bump along and get through it.
One of the things that we did not anticipate was how much our business would grow in 2021. We were shut down the first 2 months of the year, but we came back in March running, and we haven’t slowed down for a moment. We now have good problems: we have had to increase the capacity of our kitchen, we have to keep the patio tents up all the time (not just to provide an outdoor dining space, but to increase the number of tables we have available), and we need to keep hiring more people – which brings us to the tip conversation. A busy, successful restaurant creates a good income for front of house staff. There are numerous problems with the “standard” tipping paradigm in the US, but income is not one of them. Our pandemic policies are creating a situation where we are unintentionally under paying our front of house staff by continuing the policies we used to get thought the pandemic.
While Covid is very much not over (especially internationally) and we will continue to feel its effects for the next few years, we need to go back to the standard tipping practices here in the US to stay competitive with the reemerging industry. Because, despite emulating a European village tavern, we ain’t in Europe…
Thank you to those of you who have read this screed, and if you want or need further discussion, please reach out to either Kiyallah or Jeff at email@example.com or hit us up in person at the restaurant.
Cheers, and thank you for being our customers
Kiyallah Heatherstone 4/11/22