Wiser waitress was first launched in 2009, after a broken leg, resulting from a hiking accident, suddenly forced a unplanned vacation from waiting tables. Thanks to a broken fibula, some free time , and a few friends ready to pitch in, the opportunity became available to write and reflect on a industry I had for so long relied on as my way of earning a living.
After a decade of waiting tables on the west coast, It was shocking to discover servers in the South West are only paid $2.13 an hour. Waiting Tables in San Francisco didn’t make me rich, but it did provide a living wage and kept me out of poverty. I could pay my rent and save some money. And I earned enough to pay all my taxes owed on tips with my base wage. The minimum wage for a dishwasher was the same minimum wage for a server.
But upon arriving into the waste land of $2.13 I discovered quickly the down side of the tip credit. Not only did I experience a dramatic drop in my income, I found that there were many employers abusing the tip credit. Not only were they taking the tip credit, thus allowing them to pay servers a small tiny wage of $2.13, they were also requiring these servers to share tips with back of the house employees, sometimes the whole staff. And unfortunately , these employers were not the exception as I found the practice to be widespread and prevelant. Nobody seemed to bother meeting the criteria for taking a tip credit and no one, including the wait staff often didn’t even know what that criteria was. Tired of seeing waitresses and waiters work in oblivion and employers taking advantage of their ignorance, I felt it was important to bone up on the rules of industry.
And so countless hours were farmed out to emails, phone calls, research and interviews. Friends donated their time by editing, cross-referencing or translating text in Spanish. Our goal is to provide answers, and attempt to clear up the widespread misconception, erroneous information about state and federal regulations among policy makers, public officials, restaurant workers, and employers. And the process is not easy. We encountered many state and federal workers who were also confused about the tip credit. Extracting public information from these various agencies requires patience and a tenacious spirit. But by raising questions, these public workers are forced to become more aware of the laws and policies themselves. And so it is believed that by pulling all this public policy information together, wiserwaitress can display a reference site not only for servers but everyone- diners, employers, public officials, teachers, and policy makers. Wiser waitress is in a nutshell, an attempt to put both the years of others experience as well as my own in the industry to some good use and hopefully inspire everyone to at least question the existing policies that affect the U.S. tipping system and the dining experiene in the U.S. today.
Special thanks to to everyone who participated in editing this website
Country folk restaurant advocates Rural Northern NM (picture above)
Gina Ferrer, Yesika Medina, Katherine James, Carol Crews, Mindy, Christina, Jimena, Brandt Milstein, Micheal Blaha and everyone who has contributed to the humble beginnings of this blog.