Pre-COVID, guests at Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza might have spotted the concept of “back of house” tips on their menus.
The nods, said Casey Schumacher, a manager at Natalie’s Worthington, give guests the opportunity to tip the kitchen staff at their High Street and King Avenue locations. The feature helps even out the discrepancy between front and back of house wages for staff.
While guests would give a few nods here and there, Schumacher in the spring pitched the idea of making a short video explaining the tips and how they affect the employees that receive them.
It changed everything.
“The response has been great and getting better every week it seems,” Schumacher said.
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Natalie’s went from receiving maybe two back-of-house nods a week to at least one or two a day, he said. In total, Schumacher estimates that Natalie’s patrons have donated somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000 in back-of-house tips.
The extra money is a big help right now. Like many industry employees, the kitchen staff’s hours have been cut significantly, due to abbreviated hours and lack of demand because of the pandemic, Schumacher said.
“Obviously, because of this anything in regards to extra income is helpful to them,” he said.
Though back-of-house tips seem to be more popular on the West Coast, Schumacher said he hopes it catches on here.
“I think it helps boost [morale] for [back-of-house staff] and also helps diminish the divide that often occurs in restaurants between front and back of house,” he said.