The move to drop tips in favor of a 20 percent service charge is being debated in restaurants across the country. In places like Portland, New York, and Seattle high profile restaurant owners like Danny Meyer and Tom Douglas argue that shifting to a service charge is a way to pay higher wages and, as Douglas told Seattle Weekly, “to provide greater compensation equity for front of house and back of house.”

But owners in Charleston still seem hesitant to join the trend. As Hanna Raskin reported in her May Post & Courier story, many local owners fear the unknown.

Xiao Bao Biscuit co-owner Joshua Walker said as much, telling Raskin, “I do really feel like we’re afraid. You can afford to pay everyone well, but what’s the public perception if the price of okonomiyaki jumps to $14? ‘Oh, that place is so expensive now?’ ”

But while Charleston takes it’s time to hop on board the no tip train, Edmund’s Oast owner Scott Shor is offering customers a small way to tell the Back of House thanks. Now printed on the bottom of Edmund’s Oast menus is the following:

“The kitchen team works long and hard! Please let us know if you’d like to show them some love with an after work six pack for $10 or a twelve pack for $20.” 

“It isn’t really a tip in the traditional sense,” explains Shor. “It is more just an opportunity, for certain guests that are inclined to do so, to give a gift to the kitchen team. We often get inquiries from guests about doing that or some guests choose to actually bring a care package of some sort as a kitchen gift.”

Shor adds that the idea is in no way meant to skirt the law. “The law clearly states that no tips left to front of house service members may be shared with back of house personnel. And we respect that,” he adds. “Unlike the ‘tip line’ where a guest writes in an optional gratuity to reward good front of house service, this is a straight transaction of the guest making a purchase, which will be added on to their bill, for the sake of giving a gift to the back of house team. Of course, this is optional and only a small percentage of guests may opt to do it. But we are excited to put a more organized system into place to afford the opportunity to those in pursuit of it.”

Edmund’s Oast first posted the move last week on Instagram and the social media reaction was positive. We suspect the kitchen staff is pretty pleased as well.

Update: Cane  Cane Rhum Bar & Caribbean Kitchenhas a similar option on its menu. At the bottom of the drink menu it says: “Citchen Koffee” – Happy with your meal? But the kitchen a round. Ask your server for details. 
If you know of other restaurants that publish similar opportunities to buy the BOH a round, let us know. Email kinsey@charlestoncitypaper.com.

Love Best of Charleston?

Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.