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Impact Story: Fair pay without tips at Roundhead Brewing

Impact Stories
Roundhead Brewing staff photo

When Craig Panzer and Luis Espinoza were preparing to open Roundhead Brewing Company in Hyde Park, they wanted to pay staff fairly. Their plan was to track everyone’s wages and tips and, if they fell short of an hourly minimum, make up the difference.

The BII team urged them to go further and abolish tipping.

“It was more challenging for us, but we realized it was the right thing to do,” Panzer said. “Tips change the power dynamic between customers and staff, and there are gender and racial disparities. Across the service industry, white men earn the highest tips. And we know that historically, the practice of tipping as a way to justify lower wages started with jobs held by people of color, like train porters.”

Panzer and Espinoza worked with the BII team to come up with a viable alternative: a 20% administrative fee on all guest checks.

The fee enables Roundhead to pay a starting wage of $22.56 (based on MIT’s Living Wage Calculator), which is more than triple the Massachusetts tipped wage (currently $6.75). The brewery calculates the difference between the two wage levels and retains that amount from the fee revenue, based on the hours each person worked. When there is a surplus, it is shared by all the employees, just as pooled tips would be.

“This way we can guarantee living wages, while closing the gap between the front and the back of the house, ensuring that each role at Roundhead Brewing is truly valued,” Panzer said.

“It’s important for us that everyone at Roundhead Brewing receives equal treatment and equal pay,” Espinoza added. “We even designed the layout of the brewery with that in mind: the kitchen, brewery and bar are all located in the same area and face each other, so people can help one another.”

Panzer said the quality of life created by these policies “is something every member of the restaurant industry deserves, just like workers in other industries. We believe in taking care of our local community, starting with our team, and we’re proud to be making an impact through our wage policy.”

Note: This story is adapted from an article in the 2022 BII Impact Report.