Following Ivar's lead, Renée Erickson is the next to cut tips from her restaurants since Seattle's new Minimum Wage Ordinance went into effect April 1. Beginning Monday, May 4, The Walrus and the Carpenter, The Whale Wins, and Barnacle will no longer accept tips. In their place, the restaurants will add an 18.5 percent service fee to meals that will be shared between front- and back-of-the-house employees.
A press release from Erickson's Sea Creatures umbrella organization says that the service charge funds will lead to a smaller wage gap between employees throughout the restaurants, helping the employer provide health and retirement benefits to their workers. It states: "Implementing a Service charge will allow us to pay employees a higher minimum/guaranteed wage, while maintaining everyone's current total take home pay ... We are making this move now, in part because of the Federal Affordable Care Act, the City of Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance, and changing interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act; but mostly because we believe that it is right thing to do for our employees, and by extension, our customers."