Gainesville restaurant no longer accepting tips

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 4:36 PM CDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Instead of expecting tips, employees of Sababa can rely on what they call a livable wage.

Regardless if the employee is a cashier or a dishwasher, co-owner Riley Sullivan said all of his employees will receive a starting pay of $15 an hour with opportunities to gain a 401k, health care, and potentially more.

“It just seemed unfair that everyone was paid differently. The dishwashers and the prep cooks, people who are just as or more important to making the restaurant run,” Sullivan explained. He mentioned his experience with the tipping culture has been negative as it puts the customer in control of paying hard working employees.

To make this happen, some changes had to be made.

“We raised the prices, I think it averaged out about 15-18% across the menu,” Sullivan said, “some of the limited pushback there was, ‘oh, I’m going to be paying so much more,’ it’s like people who come in and were tipping the industry rate, 18-20%, aren’t really paying any more because the increase was less than that. It’s just that everyone pays the same amount for the same good food.”

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Employees of Sababa have reacted positively to this change. The kitchen manager, Jacob Iversen, said he thinks this will motivate him and his coworkers to dedicate their energy to a job that supports them.

“It makes sense that if people have a nice job that pays well, that they can support themselves long-term on, that their work quality is going to be higher and customers are going to be more happy. I think it’s just good for business in general,” Iversen stated.

Sullivan said he hopes that other restaurants follow suit, even though Sababa is a counter service establishment with a limited staff. He also mentioned that tip sharing is another great way to ensure all employees are being paid fairly for their time.

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