Jonathan Kauffman in the SF Chronicle: 'Change in law allows pooling of tips in California, aiding cooks, dishwashers'


Until now, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act has forbidden cooks and dishwashers from receiving any part of this money. The new law reverses this restriction in the seven states — including California, Oregon and Nevada — that do not have separate minimum wages for tipped and non-tipped workers.

Even as the minimum wage is rising in many Bay Area cities, staffing shortages have become endemic in the local restaurant industry, exacerbated by the pay disparity between servers and cooks. “Our servers are making a minimum of $30 an hour, and yet in the back of the house, some (cooks and dishwashers) are making half that,” said Shahvar, whose restaurants use a traditional tipping model.

Some Bay Area restaurateurs are compensating for high labor costs by switching to counter service. Many others have attempted to reduce the pay disparity with tip-free pricing and automatic service charges. But these alternatives can be controversial. A few restaurants that eliminated tips, such as Bar Agricole in San Francisco, added them back after customers and staff revolted.

If you hit a paywall on the link to the above SF Chronicle article, here is a link to the mobile SFGate version which might help:

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I am so sick of this equal opportunity shit. I started digging ditches. Plenty of them. Worked my ass off. To get out of that. I needed to be a jouneyman and then a contractor . Some dishwasher is going come in there working one week and is going to expect the same pay as someone who has worked the front of the house for 20 years. No. Oh poor me .quit crying.

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What an attitude! So you think that the person who hands you your food should earn twice as much as the person who actually cooks it? The only reason a person would work FOH for 20 years is because they make out like a bandit at the expense of the cooks and dishwashers.


your profession whatever it was. I can sit down right next to you and make the same money you’re making. With zero experience.

I say yes.

If we’re going to having a tipping culture, I think this makes the most sense.

If everyone knows they will be getting some percentage of the tips (I assume the percentage is determined by role, length of time in the position and with the business, etc), then everyone is invested in providing the best service.

Likewise, there will be less strife and resentment between BOH and FOH, since all will benefit when the customer is pleased with the food AND the service.

I’m all for a living wage and equal pay.


I am under the impression that it isn’t able equal pay. It is just more balanced. A cook and a waiter can still have different base salary. And the pooled tip does not have to distributed equally. It is just that now cooks and dishwashers…etc have some percentages.

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The last time I had a restaurant job (1962) it was as a bus boy at the Top of the Sixes in New York (in what is now Jared Cushner’s albatross). The waitresses (yep, all women) were supposed to give a certain percentage of their tips to the bus boys, but it was on the honor system. It was pretty much an all cash business in those days, and it was easy to figure out I was getting stiffed because I could see the money that was left on the table. That left me with a lack of respect for servers, and when I complained, I was moved to the job of Attendant to the Flaming Dessert Wagons, where I learned that the (male) “Waiter Captains” who made the flaming desserts were just as stingy.