New Madison restaurant to implement no-tip service

Published: Feb. 11, 2023 at 10:28 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A new Madison restaurant is implementing a business model that breaks the service industry’s traditional style.

Sultan, located along Williamson Street, will have no tipping.

“I’m very much against tipping culture,” Sultan Ahmed, owner of the Pakistani restaurant, said.

It’s a culture Ahmed is trying to change. He said he was inspired by how some restaurants operate overseas.

“If I, as a business owner, can’t afford to pay my employees what they’re worth, then I shouldn’t be in business,” Sultan said. “It’s not the customer’s job to subsidize my employee’s wages.”

A passion for cooking and a desire to make a difference led Sultan to open up his own establishment with the twist of no tipping.

“This has actually always been my goal,” Sultan said. “Our servers will be instructed to tell customers that we are a no-tip establishment and the goal is to pay every employee a living wage.”

Ahmed said his restaurant will pay its employees $20 an hour. Full-time staff members will get an additional 5% profit share.

Wisconsin Restaurant Association Executive Vice President Susan Quam said this is a model that’s seen mixed results.

“There’s been a lot of operators around the state who have done this kind of concept with varying degrees of success,” Quam said.

While customers may not prefer tipping culture, most employees in the industry do. It’s a key hurdle for Ahmed.

“We currently still see now that a vast majority of the individuals who are working in bartending and serving in other tipped positions in the hospitality world want to keep the system the way it is because they like the ability to have unlimited earning potential,” Quam said.

Despite this, Quam said Ahmed’s different approach is good for the industry.

“I think we will continue to see interest in doing this kind of model,” Quam said.

Ahmed said Sultan is on track to open May 15 barring any setbacks or delays. The restaurant will primarily serve Pakistani cuisine.

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