A new twist on tipping - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

A new twist on tipping

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RICHLAND, WA - A new Supreme Court ruling is affecting local restaurants, and it can affect you when it comes time for the check.

Reporter Mackenzie Maynard visited a local restaurant and broke down the ruling and what it means for those of us who dine out.

For years, eating out has been pretty black and white, but what many of us may not know just yet is that things are changing for the restaurant business. Mackenzie Maynard sat down with the owner of Sterling's and his daughter to learn more.

"People are in shock because for their whole entire life, the procedure has changed," said Jim Sterling, the owner of Sterling's Restaurants.

Sterling talked about the past few months of change.

"The Supreme Court has changed in deciding no tip pooling that can share to the kitchen," he said.

You may be wondering what's a tip pool. Well, for decades, waitresses and waiters collect their tips and at the end of their shift they give a portion to the cooks in back.

"We've all been informed by the Washington State Hospitality Association the Department of Revenue will start enforcing a rule that the restaurant can not share any tips from the front of the house and back of the house," Sterling said.

So, how does that affect you, the customer?

"We can no longer take a waitress's money and give it to the cook," said Sterling. "The only person who can do that is the customer themselves."

So at the end of the meal when it's time to get the check, there's something on the check that might cause you to do a double-take.

"As of the procedure we developed starting in January, included on the bottom of the check is a cook tip line, server tip line, and a total," said Sterling.

But here's where some might get confused...

"We're not expecting them to tip the server 20% and the cook 5%. We would imagine they have a number in their mind for a tip and to remember to give a dollar or two to the cook."

It not only helps provide a solution to the new tip pool ruling, but also helps when dealing with the increase in minimum wage.

"About $6,000 a month in increases," said Sterling. "That's increasing the menu 50 to 70 cents."

So when it came time to increasing the menu prices, Sterling told Mackenzie Maynard they only took a 3% increase.

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