Two Northwest Portland restaurants will eliminate tipping – http://bit.ly/1Pw7NML
Update: This post has been updated to reflect an interview with the restaurants’ chef and owner, Scott Dolich.
Northwest Portland’s Park Kitchen and Bent Brick, the forward-thinking restaurants from chef Scott Dolich, will remove traditional “front-of-house” and “back-of-house” roles, eliminate tipping and increase prices, The Oregonian has learned.
The move comes as restaurants across the nation grapple with server-cook income disparity and the upcoming rise in national and regional minimum wages. Dolich hopes it will help create a more “unified method of service and a sustainable and positive work environment where employees have a reliable income stream.”
“This is a big change and we are not entering into it lightly,” Dolich said in a press release. “I considered just eliminating tips, but ultimately that still keeps in place the uncomfortable ‘us vs. them’ disparities between the kitchen and server jobs. This framework allows for more fluid service, and better communication with the guests.”
Under the new model, nicknamed “one house,” the servers and cooks of both restaurants will be trained on all kitchen and floor stations, working one station for three months before rotating to another, according to a press release from the restaurants.
In an interview with The Oregonian, Dolich clarified that only servers and cooks will be cross-trained. The managers, bartenders, prep cooks, porters, sous chef and head chef will maintain their current positions.
“We feel that this is a big enough change with just the cooks and servers,” Dolich said. “We didn’t want to completely cross-train everybody. We need the managers in place to train, so it’s really a much smaller segment of the restaurant.”
In addition to cross-training all employees, tipping at both restaurants will be eliminated only if Dolich feels the new model of service meets or exceeds his and his guests’ expectations. To compensate, menu prices will be increased by 18 percent, what Dolich said is the restaurant’s tipping average, and employee schedules will be increased to 40 hours a week, allowing them to qualify for the restaurant’s health insurance plan.
“Nothing is going to happen overnight,” Dolich told The Oregonian. “This will take the majority of 2016 and there will be an evolution. The staff first need to be trained properly and then when I’m satisfied that the guests are getting a better experience than they’ve come to expect, tips will go away. Training is going to take a ton of time. I don’t anticipate that happening until the second quarter of 2016 at least.”
Dolich said the reason why they’re implementing the change is partially motivated by his own experience when first opening Park Kitchen.
“In the beginning, I didn’t really think about a ton of things. I had to help servers deliver food and what ended up happening was I got that experience of serving customers,” he said. “That became an important motivator to do this, to help the staff become a little more well-rounded. It helped me realize there’s a bigger picture than just cooking or serving. Why would I hold that back from the rest of my employees when I have the chance to do that as a business owner?”
Park Kitchen is located at 422 N.W. 8th Avenue. Bent Brick is located at 1639 N.W. Marshall St.
— Samantha Bakall
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