The Top Four Restaurant Stories of 2016

It’s the end of the year, so we thought we’d recap what we found to be the biggest stories involving the restaurant industry of 2016.

No Tipping Grows

More restaurants turned to no tipping services in 2016.

Tipping has been a staple of servers’ compensation since the dawn of time (slight exaggeration). But that tradition has been called into question this year.

It seems, there are a number of reasons for challenging tipping. More states are increasing the minimum wage and making benefits like paid sick leave mandatory. The Fight for 15 movement is gaining popularity among workers. The pay gap between front of house and back of house staff continues to grow.

To compensate, some restaurants are getting rid of tipping to bring FoH and BoH on the same playing field. Some are raising menu prices, while others are getting creative to make up the cash gap.

Fighting Sexual Harassment

Sports bars & restaurants also began fighting back against sexual harassment more in 2016.

This was, by far, our most popular topic, according to our readers. Our story on a Black Acre Brewing Company’s owner banning a customer from his establishment for repeatedly sexually harassing the female staff and then ranting about it on Facebook garnered more than 350,000 page-views.

And as Millennials start to take over management and other leadership roles, we’re starting to see their more evolved take on social norms change the atmosphere of businesses. The battle to end sexual harassment is far from over (especially in the restaurant industry), but we started to see efforts made over the course of the year.

Violence Escalates in Restaurants Post-Election

Violence at restaurants spiked after Donald Trump won the 2016 US presidential election

Restaurants are a hotbed of diversity. Between our staff and our guests, we’re bound to have a lot of different people interacting with other people of different experiences and viewpoints.

Freedom of speech is what makes America great. But not everyone agrees with that sentiment, and bars and restaurants have been at the center of violence since the election ended. From conspiracy theorists taking to violence because of fake news to fisticuffs over political differences to anti-Trump owners charging more to Trump voters, things can get pretty heated in your locations.

Labor Shortage

Restaurants dealt with service staff and kitchen staff labor shortages this year.

While the staff is bemoaning the wage gap in our industry, owners and managers are dealing with an increasing labor shortage. It’s especially bad in the San Francisco area, where wages are dangerously low compared to the cost of apartment rent. Restaurant owners are seeing more and more of their staff leave the industry for better-paying jobs elsewhere.

It’s definitely a problem. And it becomes a bigger problem when you realize that the cost of employee turnover costs restaurants upward of $146,600 a year. Some groups are getting creative with their attempts at staff retention, but for those looking for other employee retention ideas, we’ve created a webinar and handbook to guide you.

What will 2017 bring? Stay tuned later this week when we present our restaurant industry predictions for 2017.