Governor proposes $11/hour for restaurant servers, tipped workers


Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A new proposal in Governor Cuomo's 2018 Agenda calls for tipped workers, which includes restaurant servers, to earn full minimum wage, or $11/hour.

Currently, tipped workers like restaurant servers make $7.50/hour before tips.

The proposal has some local restaurant managers worried about the impact such a move could bring.

"I understand where he's coming from, but on our end it's something we're not very fond of," said Michael Demkou, who manages Riki's Restaurant in Fairport.

Demkou says he wants his wait-staff to make as much money as possible, but he says having to pay his wait-staff $3.50/hour more could mean higher prices at his restaurant.

He's also fearful it could mean fewer tips for his servers.

"I understand he's trying to assist these waiters and waitresses but in the end it might impact them negatively if they're income is going to be taxed more and they'll be getting less tips," said Demkou.

In part of Gov. Cuomo's reasoning, he says the move is the "question of basic fairness," adding, "70 percent of all tipped workers in New York are women," and "studies have shown that African-American workers are often tipped less than their white counterparts."

"I wouldn't be particularly happy about it because it'd probably raise the prices," said Riki's customer Barry Erickson. But he admits, the hike in pay for servers wouldn't impact how much he'd tip.

"It probably wouldn't impact the tip I would give, the tip would depend on the service I got," said Erickson.

Another local restaurant owner has been preparing for proposed increases like this.

"I'm willing to take that smaller profit for the bigger gain," said Joe Cipolla, the executive chef and owner of 'The Kitchen' in Pittsford.

When he opened his restaurant three years ago, he took into account the proposed increases for minimum wage at the time.

"I knew all these new rules would be taking place, and I didn't want to be in the position where it'd be hurting me on the back-end."

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