DENVER, Colorado — At Duo Restaurant in the Highlands, a 2% surcharge is added to every bill in order to support kitchen staff who do not earn tips. It's something they implemented two years ago.
“We did it to address the growing wage gap between tipped and untipped employees,” said Bobby Rayburn, GM and partner of DUO. “I think they feel appreciated, they feel cared about, they feel looked over and they appreciate the extra money on the paychecks.”
He says they worried about how customers would respond. Occasionally guests ask about the strange line on the check.
“The majority of the feedback we hear is, ‘that’s it?’ It’s about 70 cents per guest on average,” said Rayburn, adding that the surcharge puts another $2 an hour toward each back of house employee’s wage.
Employees who receive tips in Colorado, such as bartenders and servers, earn a minimum wage of $8.08. But that’s nothing compared to the tips they receive. Back of house minimum wage is $11.10 in Colorado and legally they cannot receive tips.
Rayburn could increase the cost of the menu but that would lead to an increased tip for servers, increasing the wage disparity. Seventy cents is enough to address skyrocketing cost of living for his employees.
Eat Denver, a nonprofit bringing independent restaurants together on topics like this, says Duo is not alone. LoHi Steakbar and Ultreia in Union Station are just a couple. Eat Denver says more are considering it.