It's been four months since Ivar's Salmon House raised all wages to $15 per hour, axed tipping from their tickets, and raised menu prices 21 percent as a result of Seattle's new minimum wage law. Now Associated Press writer Gene Johnson reports that the change has been quite positive thus far for staff, whose wages are up to 60 percent higher than they were before.
Per Johnson: "One waitress is saving for accounting classes and finding it easier to take weekend vacations, while another server is using the added pay to cover increased rent ... Revenue has soared [up 20 percent], supportive customers are leaving additional tips even though they don't need to, and servers and bartenders are on pace to increase their annual pay by thousands, with wages for a few of the best compensated approaching $80,000 a year."
"It's been a surprise," Ivar's Seafood Restaurants President Bob Donegan told Johnson. "The customers seem to like it, the employees seem to like it, and it seems to be working, at least in this location."
See AP's full coverage here, detailing how the shift has improved life for two specific Ivar's staff members, and how Donegan gets frequent inquiries from other table-service restaurants interested in learning how Ivar's policy works. Still, "the approach is unlikely to be replicated among fast food restaurants or others where servers make less in tips ... Even Ivar's isn't expanding its new policy to its quick-service seafood stands."