Gratuities, though not mandatory, are expected for a majority of services rendered in such arenas as restaurants and bars, hair salons, spas, hotels, taxicabs and more.
At Gobble, however, there is a “no tipping” policy. The Woodinville eatery actually discourages customers from giving employees gratuities.
“We’ve had the policy in place since we officially opened last October,” says Gobble owner, Adam Gold. “Actually, it was a part of my business plan which I wrote three years ago.”
The Woodinville man explains, “I just get offended when I go into a Starbucks and they have the nerve to have a tip jar when they charge me four bucks for a cup of coffee. To me, it’s like having a tip jar at McDonald’s. I just think it’s wrong. And you shouldn’t need a bribe to be motivated to do a great job.”
Gold notes that he hires exemplary employees and pays them more than they’d normally make at a comparable job.
He adds, “We make sure they know that superlative effort and service are what’s expected all the time and so far they’ve delivered. Also, our full-timers have an ownership stake in the business via our bonus and profit-sharing plans, so that’s a significant motivation to go above and beyond as well.”
Instead of a tip container at the restaurant’s counter, there’s a Charity Jar. Customers, if they wish, can put their spare change in the jar. Gobble matches the money collected at the end of each month or so and donates it to a specific organization.
“People are so nice and generous around here,” says Gold. “They really want to show their appreciation to the staff for the great service and you can’t just tell them ‘no.’ So, the Jar became a good compromise, although some still sneak back and slip a few bucks to the employees when I’m not looking. The money ends up in the Jar anyway.”
For November/December, Gold presented a check for $500 to Homeward Pet Adoption.
In December/January, Build-On, which just built its 535th school worldwide, was the recipient of $700 from the restaurant.
Currently, Gobble is collecting funds for the YMCA’s Partners With Youth program.
“We choose organizations that I or our staffers are personally involved with,” comments Gold. “Each is thoroughly vetted and we are leaning heavily towards those that focus on kids and families.”
The Woodinville business owner notes that many of his customers are initially confused by the “no tipping” policy, but as soon as they understand the purpose of the Jar, most respond favorably and are very enthusiastic and supportive.
As for the employees, they’re fully on board, says Gold. “They are behind it and are lobbying for their personal favorite causes to be the next recipient of the Jar.”