Delta Diner Bans Tips, Sets 20% Flat Gratuity Fee

Effort to Create Fair & Equal Workplace For All Employees

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This is a progressive trend in the restaurant business, more common on both the east and west coasts.

But here in the Northland, the Delta Diner is one of the first to make the switch replacing tips with a flat gratuity fee.

Sometimes it takes a risk to earn a reward.

“Yeah, you have apprehension any time you do something new, but if you avoid it simply because of that, you don’t move forward,” explained Todd Bucher, founder of the Delta Diner in Delta, Wisconsin, 25 miles south of Ashland.

The Delta Diner has made a bold decision.

“From the get-go we’ve been an employee first business model,” said Bucher.

One that it hopes will pay off.

“It’s a very progressive model,” Bucher added.

Starting Monday the diner staff is no longer accepting tips.

“The tipped culture is very entrenched in our society,” Bucher explained. “It’s something that very often isn’t in the best interest of our staff.”

Instead, customers are now being charged a flat 20 percent staff service fee.

“We’re leaving it out there because we want to be very, very clear with everybody that that full 20 percent goes back into compensating staff,” said Bucher.

Sarah Matheis is not new to the serving industry.

“Right off the bat I was really kind of scared, because as a server you get used to having cash in your hand every single night,” she said.

That said, she understands the benefits of the new system.

“Knowing that everyone who’s cooking and doing prep behind the scenes is getting compensated just as fairly as we are, because it’s only fair,” Matheis added.

People have taken to social media to voice their opinions.

“A vast majority is very complimentary and supportive,” Bucher said.

Monica says, “Good for you Delta Diner. Take a stance and stick with it. You have an amazing product with a great staff. Good to see this.”

“There were some that had questions,” Bucher told FOX 21.

Anthony wrote, “Can’t we give a little tip more on top of the 20 percent if we want?”

Bucher added, “There were some very thoughtful, although I would say constructive, comments in terms of their doubts.”

Len says, “Not all jobs are equal and this is not fair. I am a good tipper for service. Not a bank for the owner.”

The staff knows the adjustment will take some getting used to.

“It’s only been two days and I’m brand new to this whole method and system so I’ve been learning a lot – it does make it a lot less competitive,” Matheis said.

They are confident it is a risk worth taking. 

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