Joe’s Crab Shack takes the no-tipping policy mainstream

Joe's Crab Shack is testing a no-tipping policy at 18 locations. Pictured is the Joe's Crab Shack in Newport Beach, which for the time being still allows tipping.

Joe’s Crab Shack is testing a no-tipping policy at 18 locations. Pictured is the Joe’s Crab Shack in Newport Beach, which for the time being still allows tipping.

(Mark Dustin / Daily Pilot )

The next time you’re dining at Joe’s Crab Shack, don’t try and leave a tip. The seafood-focused chain restaurant known for its steampots and buckets of crabs, is just the latest in a growing number of businesses to adopt a no-tipping policy at some of its locations.

Joe’s Crab Shack eliminated tipping at 18 of its restaurants in August and is looking into expanding the policy to all of its more than 130 locations nationwide, according to a company release.

Locations without tipping will have signs around the restaurant to let diners know about the new policy. And when a guest receives the bill, there will no longer be a tip line.


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Test locations for the no-tipping policy include Indianapolis and Hobart, Ind.; Columbus, Ohio; Bellevue, Ky.; Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills and Sterling Heights, Mich.; Omaha; Fairview, Peoria and Schaumburg, Ill.; Robinson and Pittsburgh, Pa.; St. Louis and Independence, Mo.; Olathe, Kan.; and Salt Lake City and West Jordan, Utah.

“We believe that consistently great service should always be included in the menu price, so we are taking the responsibility for paying the service staff,” said Ray Blanchette, CEO of Ignite Restaurants, which owns Joe’s Crab Shack, in a release. “I personally believe tipping is an antiquated model and you have seen most businesses in America migrate away from it over the last 50 to 100 years.”

Servers at these locations will earn a higher wage, and depending on the location, menu prices will increase around 12% to 15%.

Earlier this year, New York restaurateur Danny Meyer announced he would eliminate tips at 13 of his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants, including The Modern, Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern.

“Once these changes are implemented, the total cost you pay to dine with us won’t’ differ much from what you pay now,” wrote Meyer in a letter on the Union Square Hospitality Group website. “We will now have the ability to compensate all of our employees equitably, competitively and professionally.”

In Los Angeles, diners are unable to leave tips at Trois Mec and Nozawa Bar. And at Brand 158 in Glendale, owner Gabriel Frem opened the restaurant last year with a no-tips, no-cash policy.

“We think that if we stabilize the lives of our employees, they can then focus on the customer,” said Frem. “If people came to work and didn’t know what they were going to make for the week, that tension would eventually translate to the customer.”

According to the Joe’s Crab Shack release, there is no timeframe for when, or if, the chain will expand the policy to all of its locations, including the 11 restaurants in California.

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