When Prairie Dog Brewing opened for business in June of 2018, we started with a bold plan to buck the traditions of the restaurant industry. First and foremost, we set out to compensate our staff fairly for their efforts, paying higher base wages and providing health and wellness benefits. Next, we developed an alternative to the archaic and sometimes discriminatory tipping model found at most other restaurants, which we call our Staff Fund.

Our “no tip expected” model has been extremely well received by Calgarians and out of town visitors, but as we anticipated, many guests would still like to provide a monetary reward to our staff as recognition for a great experience. To support our customers’ desire, we opened Prairie Dog Brewing with the option to contribute to our Staff Fund directly by “Buying us a beer” for $5, or by “Giving our brewmaster/pitmaster a high five” for $2, which would be added to the customer’s bill at some point prior to payment. Further, we disabled the tip function on our electronic payment terminals to encourage customers to formally contribute to the Staff Fund as described, and to spur on the conversation about our novel approach. Unfortunately, both our customers and our staff have found it awkward or untimely to broach the subject of the Staff Fund prior to payment. This has led to hundreds — it not thousands — of requests by our customers to find a way to use our electronic merchant terminals to collect Staff Funds, similar to tips.

Therefore, we are pleased to announce that as of today, February 10, 2020, we have enabled Staff Funds collection on our merchant terminals. In order to do this, we’ve turned on our merchant terminals’ tip function and provided clear labelling on the machines to indicate that tips are not expected and that all tips on these machines are a contribution to our Staff Fund, as well as placing a new “table talker” card on every table to outline our tipping policy and Staff Fund. 

We have also formalized our method of Staff Funds distribution. We distributed Staff Funds in a somewhat ad-hoc manner in the past, which meant that staff could not be certain of when or how they would receive Staff Funds. From today forward, we’ve committed to paying 75% of Staff Funds collected during each 2-week pay period directly on our employees’ paycheques. Prairie Dog Brewing operates as a team and every player has an important role to play in creating a great guest experience, so all of our employees will be included in this 75% distribution of funds, including our front of house, kitchen, brewery, and administration staff. These funds will be divided equally among the staff per hour that they work during each collection period. We will use the remaining 25% of collected Staff Funds for performance-based bonuses and rewards, as well as staff-driven events/initiatives and other perks.

Unchanged is our commitment to our staff and customers that Staff Funds will be paid out solely to Prairie Dog Brewing employees rather than to our ownership team, and that our employees will continue to receive industry-leading compensation and benefits.

For more information about our Staff Fund and our updated tipping policy, please visit http://tips.prairiedog.beer.