Even though the restaurant sector employs some of the most physically and mentally taxing individuals, many of those professions are infamously underpaid.

A stressful working atmosphere is exacerbated by the fact that many employees depend on consumer gratuities to earn a living salary.

Unfortunately, the majority of restaurants in the United States pass on the expense of labour to patrons in the form of tips, leaving their devoted staff without a safety net.

Zazie San Francisco

It’s not uncommon for restaurants to provide their employees tips as a kind of compensation, but one San Francisco restaurant has been breaking the norm with a “tip-free” strategy for years.

Under the leadership of Jennifer Piallat, the second owner of the famous brunch eatery Zazie, tipping was abolished in 2015. Piallat had to raise menu pricing by 20% across the board in order to maintain this economic strategy.

She was prepared for a backlash, yet consumers well received the improvements.


Even after implementing the new method, a client said she had feared sticker shock, yet the menu still seemed affordable.

Customers may have been pleased, but the employees were overjoyed. All of them made $15 to $20 an hour before the no-tip policy was put in place.

Back-of-the-house employees had a 35 percent salary boost, while servers earned a 3 percent to 7 percent compensation increase. The group’s current hourly wage ranges from $30 to $65. In addition, staff get a 25 percent income share on every item on the menu.

As Piallat put it, “Our employees are treated like grownups, with real jobs,'” As a result of the lower cost of our food relative to the greater cost of labour, we have a bigger profit margin than the average restaurant.

“More mature, long-term employees waste less food, make fewer errors, are less prone to steal, and are capable of handling larger parts.”

Zazie San Francisco

As a result of implementing this strategy, Piallat can now provide paid sick and vacation time to all full-time and part-time workers, fully financed health and dental insurance, and paid maternity or paternity leave.

It’s just me who’s losing money, she jokingly said. As a result, “I didn’t want to jeopardize the satisfaction of anybody else.”

In addition, Piallat is a firm believer in the value of full disclosure in the workplace. Thus she has made a spreadsheet available to the public.

‘Everyone can see what the other people are up to.’ “It’s not shady at all,” she insisted.


Zazie’s long-term employees, three of whom are now part owners, have benefited greatly from these improvements.

Piallat sold Zazie in January 2020 to one of its waiters, its executive chef, and its general manager—three workers who had worked at the restaurant for a combined 50 years. Piallat currently owns a quarter of the company.

“I’ve always wanted to sell to my employees. I can’t picture someone coming along and treating this community of 17 years’ worth of hard work like discarded trash. Selecting a buyer was the most difficult step… It’s unlikely they ever imagined they’d be the ones to call it home,” she added.

For the next ten years, Zazie’s owners want to continue the restaurant’s “no-tipping” policy.


Fortunately, despite the pandemic’s terrible impact on companies worldwide, the eatery seems to be flourishing better than ever.

On the other hand, Zazie was unfazed by labour shortages, restaurant closures, or reduced working hours.

Another factor in Zazie’s low turnover is the company’s generous benefits package. Only one server decided to make a career shift during the epidemic.

Five years ago, just a handful of workers had departed to relocate or change occupations; no one had resigned to work at another restaurant.

Hopefully, Zazie’s success will inspire more eateries to follow in its footsteps. Everyone agrees that service employees are entitled to a better pay and benefits package!