Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the famously politically incorrect cartoon “South Park,” have decided to revamp how staff, including servers, at their Colorado restaurant are paid. Now, the staff at Casa Bonita will start with a minimum wage of $30 per hour and patrons will be forbidden from tipping.
Since Colorado currently has a $13.65 minimum wage, servers at Casa Bonita are making $16.35 per hour more than those making minimum wage in the state. What’s more, both they and customers now have certainty: customers will know how much they will have to pay when ordering and staff will know when they show up for work what they will make based on how long they work, rather than both groups guessing based on the quality of service and generosity of customers.
Casa Bonita, a restaurant in Lakewood, Colorado, which the “South Park” duo bought for $3.1 million in 2021 after the previous owners claimed bankruptcy, is no ordinary restaurant. Rather, it’s a spot where customers can expect “Mex eats & pageantry such as divers plunging into a pool below a 30-ft. waterfall & puppet shows.” As People reports, the restaurant is known for “Featuring live cliff divers and jaw-dropping animatronics, the restaurant is equal parts culinary experience and spectacle.”
In fact, it’s such an odd spot that it’s referred to as the “Disneyland of Mexican restaurants” by the local paper, the Denver Gazette. It is also, that outlet reports, locked up “like Fort Knox” as the duo prepares it for a public opening.
Speaking about what they did to the restaurant in an interview with The New York Times, Matt Stone said, “It doesn’t stink like chlorine anymore,. We could have rebuilt this twice as big, for half as much money, but we spent so much restoring it, like a piece of art. And the food is excellent.”
A Casa Bonita spokesperson told FOX 31 KDVR, The New York Post reports, that the restaurant decided to change how staff is paid because the restaurant’s different than normal ticketing and payment system. Speaking on that, the spokesperson said, “During our soft-opening nights, we found that guests simply weren’t tipping. We believe it’s due to our unconventional, pre-pay ticketing system.”
The spokesperson added that the new system will give guests cost certainly and most employees who were part of the payment shift are happy with it, saying, “In order to provide a higher-than-average, dependable wage, we shifted to a no-tipping model and doubled the hourly rate to more than $30/hr for our service staff. This shift also benefits our guests, who can enjoy Casa Bonita without incurring unexpected costs. Of our 256 employees, 93 were a part of the shift and a total of 2 were unhappy about it.”
It remains to be seen how the system works as the restaurant opens fully to customers but it seems like an interesting way of providing cost and pay certainty for guests and staff while also paying the staff enough to encourage them to do a good job without receiving tips for good service.
Featured image credit: By ensceptico – https://www.flickr.com/photos/54613395@N00/404073597/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3472830
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