Big River Pizza will be adding Surcharge effective 10/26/23
We provide a stable work environment with fair and equitable wages for our team. To ensure this, we will be adding a 15% surcharge to each dine-in and take-away ticket, 10% for online orders, and no surcharge fee for third-party delivery. This allows us to compensate our team according to job expectations, performance, development, and leadership abilities. 100% of this charge is used to pay our team. Tips are no longer an expectation. We will be eliminating tipping in order to align with our core values of equal pay for equal work. Pursuant to Minnesota Statute Section 177.23, subdivision 9, this charge is not a gratuity for employee service.
Why a surcharge, and what does it mean?
Adding a 15% surcharge to dine-in and takeaway orders (10% for online orders) covers the higher wages we pay our staff who are currently negatively affected by the wage spiral (wages not keeping up with inflation). The Twin Cities is moving toward a $15/hr minimum wage, which we believe is the LEAST amount someone needs to earn as a livable income. We start our base pay at $15/hr. But since everyone at Big River Pizza is paid based on job duty/title and experience, some staff earn more than the minimum wage.
As a side note, it is true that the cost of food increases over time with inflation. We have always adjusted menu prices to reflect the cost of food and will continue to do so. But we want to be straightforward about the surcharge being separate from the cost of inflation.
Being mindful of our guests’ pocketbooks
A lot of research went into determining our surcharge so that it would not be a deterrent. Analysis of our restaurant data compiled over years of operation tells us that most guests tip between 12 and 18 percent. This means that by adding the surcharge and eliminating tips, your cost to dine with us didn’t change. But our employees’ compensation package changed significantly—for the better!
A word about the legal language we are required to use
Restaurant terminology can be confusing. You’ve probably seen restaurant bills that include fees labeled as a “surcharge,” a “service charge,” or “hospitality included.” All of these terms are regulated by law, and there is some language that we are mandated to use. In this case, we are required to state that a “surcharge is not a tip” and that a “surcharge does not include gratuity.”
It’s true that legally, a surcharge is not a tip. But Big River Pizza also no longer accepts tips. That’s because we think expecting servers to be tipped over and above our new surcharge simply puts too much of an economic burden on you, our guests. We want anyone and EVERYONE to be able to come and eat with us! Besides, tipping over the top of our new surcharge defeats our purpose, which is to create an equitable wage amongst our staff.
Let’s talk about tipping as an expression of appreciation
Some people might feel that our servers deserve tips and that eliminating tips is a sign that we don’t appreciate servers. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we believe that our servers should be paid well whether guests tip generously. Our surcharge enables us to accomplish this objective and do better by all of our employees.
Another misconception addressed by the surcharge is the belief that all tips are divided equally among the restaurant staff. This is not true. Servers may choose to split tips with a busser or a bartender, but it is illegal for a restaurant owner or manager to direct a server to share their tips. As a result, most tips stay with the server. This is why servers make two to three times as much as kitchen staff when you factor in tips.
At Big River Pizza, we want to do things differently. By instituting the surcharge and eliminating all tips, we can take the tip amount you would have left and distribute it among all of our staff, including our servers.
We depend on you to tell us how we are doing—even without a tip
Tipping has long been the diner’s language to express appreciation for food and service. But we’d rather hear from you directly. Besides, we think expectations about tipping are getting out of hand when it’s considered an insult to leave less than a 20 percent tip, regardless of the quality of the service. Our surcharge removes that tension from your dining experience.
So how do you express your satisfaction to our servers under our new surcharge system? And, just as important, what can you do if you didn’t enjoy your food or experience? Well, we have a manager in our restaurant at all times, and a website providing both our telephone number and our email address. We encourage you to reach out through any of these channels, and we deeply appreciate it when you do!
Your feedback helps us be the best we can be for our community. Part of doing our best for you is creating a lovely dining experience from beginning to end. After finishing a meal, we want you to appreciate the quality of our food and our service, not wrestle internally about whether the size of your tip was “good enough.”