Redefining 'tip culture': Milwaukee brewery tosses tips; ups hourly wages for staff

NOW: Redefining ’tip culture’: Milwaukee brewery tosses tips; ups hourly wages for staff

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Broken Bat Brewing Co. is making changes to the way it pays its staff. As of April 1, the company is increasing hourly wages for staff and no longer expecting customers to leave tips.

The baseball-themed tap room is the first brewery in Milwaukee to adopt such a non-traditional method. The service industry is historically known for offering low hourly pay to workers, expecting that they will make the bulk of their money from the tips they receive, but workers say that's not always the case.

Pat Connelly, lead bartender at Broken Bat, says he's excited about the change and that it makes him feel appreciated to get paid better on the front end.

Prior to this change, tipped minimum wage at the brewery for most staff was $5 per hour plus tips. Now, the starting minimum for people behind the bar is $16. 

Owner Tim Pauly says tips are still accepted for customers who want to show their appreciation, but it's not expected. Voluntary tips will now be pooled and split among the entire staff on each paycheck, in addition to their increased base hourly pay.

"The tip culture is just what we're trying to slowly move away from, but if you have a great experience, by all means please tip and just know that it's going to our entire staff," said Pauly.

Pauly says a lot of research and crunching numbers went into making this decision and he's confident that his staff will either make equal what they were making before, or more.

"It's a change in mindset and we know this is how it's been forever, but it doesn't mean it's right."

To help cover the changes, prices will be raised by 18 percent. Pauly says it's not due to inflation but to ensure staff is paid fairly upfront for the work they do.

Customers say they don't mind and plan to still leave a tip. "I think it's common courtesy when someone is waiting on you or serving you to say thank you in that regard," said Maddie Schultz.

With worker shortages in the service industry, many believe this new model will help keep workers happy and make it easier to recruit new ones. Some restaurants are also doing away with tip culture. The operating company of Palomino, Honeypie and SmallPie adopted similar pay changes last year.

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