Nearly three months back, Renee Erickson raised wages in her restaurants The Walrus and the Carpenter, Barnacle, and The Whale Wins for all employees to $15 per hour and eliminated tipping, replacing it with an 18.5 percent service charge on all checks. Now The Stranger reports that Erickson has raised the service fee to 20 percent because 18.5 percent didn't prove to be enough, and her business partner Jeremy Price says it won't go higher than that.
Per The Stranger: "Before making the transition, Erickson and Price (Chad Dale is also a partner in the company) explained that the new system has less to do with Seattle's new minimum wage law than it does with their desire to address the severe income disparity between front-of-house and back-of-house workers." And since the new system went into effect in early May, there have been serious results for the back of the house: Kitchen workers have seen 5 to 7 percent pay increase, and dishwashers have seen a 20 to 30 percent pay increase, according to Price.
Furthermore, Price says that most eligible employees have enrolled in the company's health plan and matching retirement savings plan. Any employee working at least 25 hours per week can get health insurance, and those working at least 1,000 hours per year (about 19 hours per week) can enroll in a matching 401k program. The company is also looking for ways to extend benefits to more employees.