Tip The Kitchen? An Effort To Close The Restaurant Worker Pay Gap Is Taking Shape In Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC –  There is an effort spreading across Charlotte area restaurants to close the pay gap between front and back of the house restaurant workers. The “Tip The Kitchen” concept is more than an idea, but is being put into practice.

“I think they do a lot of the hard work,” said one restaurant goer, “no one is really seeing what they do when they’re the backbone of the restaurant.”

“I believe this is the future for the hospitality business,” said Jamie Lynch.

Lynch is a chef and co-founder of 5th Street Group, which owns restaurants like La Belle Helene and 5 Church.

He says the idea to tip the kitchen has been a long time coming.

“There has always been a disparity between the back of the house employees and the front of the house employees pay,” said Lynch.

And the pandemic has made finding people to work for those wages difficult.

“We will be reopened to full capacity before too long and if the labor shortage continues, we’re not going to be ready for that,” said Lynch.

So they added another line on the receipt for the staff preparing the food and washing dishes.

“It’s going extremely well,” explained Lynch.

They’ve been doing this at their restaurants for 30 days and says across the group, more than $100,000 dollars has gone directly to back of house staff.

“We only want them [customers] to consider leaving a back of the house tip if they feel like the meal was worthy,” said Lynch.

The idea has mixed reactions, with some saying the owners should pay a better wage to their workers.

“We just couldn’t afford to pay employees those kind of wages and keep our doors open. So we believe this is a great way to get them at a livable wage,” explained Lynch.

Lynch says they put in protections for front of house tips so not to take away from their earnings. It includes a stop gap and a company match of back of house tips.