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Bar Nine In Los Angeles To Eliminate Tips In 2016

Bar Nine In Los Angeles To Eliminate Tips In 2016

Zayde Naquib (Photo by Amparo Rios for Sprudge)

Zayde Naquib (Photo by Amparo Rios for Sprudge)

Zayde Naquib, founder and Director of Coffee for our friends & partners at Bar Nine in Los Angeles contacted us to reveal that Bar Nine staff will no longer accept tips in the coming year. Bar Nine opened in 2013 in Culver City; their new tipping policy was inspired by New York restauranteur Danny Meyer, who is also eliminating the practice of tipping in his restaurants.

Bar Nine (Photo by Amparo Rios for Sprudge)

Bar Nine (Photo by Amparo Rios for Sprudge)

Here is Zayde Naquib’s e-mail in full, explaining Bar Nine’s decision:

Starting January 1st, we will be eliminating tips at Bar Nine.

One of the founding principles this company was built on was hospitality, as well as offering work in this field as a potential career that is rewarding and engaging for our team. This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time, but after Danny Meyer announced he was eliminating tips from his restaurants, it inspired us to just go for it.

The major reasons and benefits of making this move are to:

  • Guarantee a living wage for our employees
  • A hope to be able to offer a career in hospitality
  • A simpler guest experience that takes away the feeling of obligation of the tipping model
  • Minimizes the time required for the “transacting,” allowing service to be the focal point of the experience
  • A goal to create better team work with our staff with a revenue sharing program

It fits into our model of trying to “do business better” as we have demonstrated with our commitment to sustainability through solar energy and a glass-only take-away program. We feel strongly that change in the community comes through the efforts of small businesses as much as anything else, so we want the choices we make to reflect that

Ultimately we feel it’s the way the industry will go completely over time. Since this is obvious to us, we don’t think waiting makes sense. There is, after all, no time like the present.

Our bar team will have a substantially higher base rate than industry averages and will have a revenue sharing program added as well. The better the business performs, the more opportunities for growth personally for each of our team members.

To accommodate the change, we will be introducing very modest price increases to our items in January, most items will be .25 to .50 cents higher than current pricing. Given our average tipped amount is higher than that, often our guests will be spending less money than they do now. This is a very exciting prospect for us.

Barista with tips. (File photo)

Barista with tips. (File photo)

Will tipping soon be a thing of the past? Is this the model of the future? We’re opening this feature up to comments and we encourage you to sound off.


  1. Tim Roth

    18 December

    At some point, all of the old-timey opinions about how this could never work are going to be smashed by the reality of living wage requirements of human beings. Everything is already more expensive and that trend will continue. Of course profit margins are tight, but at some point, if companies can’t afford reasonably sustainable and ethical treatment of everyone along the way, there’s not a lot of justification for that company to exist. It’s hard to talk about paying coffee farmers living wages and not uphold that same standard for employees in our relatively more developed countries where we serve fine coffee. We should all become comfortable with asking for more, in new ways, from our customers. If we don’t, we’ll be the grumpy old folks left scratching their heads in the dust of the more successful next generation of savvy business owners. Good service should not even be a question at this point in the game. Tipping is getting old.

  2. Joseph

    28 November

    Interesting concept. However, I have a problem with it from the customer perspective. What (ideally) makes the coffee experience great is not only an exceptional cup, but the small relationship that is formed between barista and guest. And while the guest can always give lip-service to a good barista, one of the greatest pleasures of that relationship is going beyond lip-service and giving a tip to say, “Hey, you brightened my day by doing a truly exceptional job with what I ordered and, beyond that, being friendly and helpful.” I want to develop relationships with my favorite baristas–but I also want to show that I’m genuinely appreciative and that I recognize dedication, that I’m not just talking, by making the minimal sacrifice of giving a good tip for good service.

  3. Matt Burnes

    26 November

    Hi guys,
    I come from Australia were we do not have a strong tipping model, as you may know. The only place (most) people would leave a gratuity would be a nice restaurant when the service is great or the server goes above and beyond – in my experience. Having worked in the Hospitality service industry for over 15 years I can clearly say this is a bold move and you are playing with fire… I understand the Hospitality culture must be very different in LA when compared to AUS but trust me when I say money and or tips are a huge motivator, especially when someone is having a bad bad or perhaps a little hungover… We only want highly motivated and passionate people you say, well don’t we all. This is a consistent battle we face in Oz and having been in a management role for many years it is not an easy thing to maintain. Perhaps your increased minimum wage will act as a draw card for the best of the best. Anyway its good to see someone going against the grain – Best of Luck.!
    PS- Barista’s in AUS receive around $25-27 p/h

  4. Johnny5

    25 November

    No coffee bar can match what tips account for in hourly wages without taking a huge hit. Say you’re open 7-5 (10hrs) and you have 3 people on at one time. These are conservative #s. If you were to add $3/hr to every employee (again, very conservative – actual # is probably upwards of $5-10/hr in tips) your looking at an added labor overhead of $27,000/yr. Thats an cost few coffee bars can afford. Including tips, a lot of top LA baristas make about $20/hr. If you’re a talented barista, do the math.

  5. Michael

    25 November

    The only way this would work in the long run is if baristas were able to unionize and could collectively bargain for universal salary…

  6. Blake

    25 November

    Sorry but unless this cafe is willing to pay baristas double then I don’t really see this working out financially for them. :-/

    • Mohammed

      25 November

      Click the hyperlink after Danny Meyer’s name and they explain how it could work.

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