Comal Mexican eating places in Berkeley and Oakland are bringing again conventional ideas, or a minimum of tip pooling, proprietor John Paluska confirmed for Eater SF. Comal has been acclaimed as one of many main voices for the no-tipping motion within the Bay Space over the previous seven years. The standalone restaurant first eradicated ideas in 2014, when it launched a service cost as a result of it needed to pay staff honest wages throughout front- and back-of-house. However now, having grown to a gaggle of three eating places with a few fast-casual counters, and getting ready to reopen with a really totally different enterprise mannequin, Paluska says the no-tipping mannequin was not viable.
“We don’t really feel any higher about ideas,” Paluska says. And he says it’s not a query of the mannequin failing. “We felt like our transfer to a service cost was profitable. We aren’t shifting away from that mannequin as a result of it’s damaged. However … the panorama is totally different now, and we’ve to work inside that.”
Pre-pandemic, Comal had a 20 % service payment, in lieu of ideas. In the course of the pandemic, it switched to service-inclusive pricing for takeout and supply. And now for reopening, it’s bringing again ideas and planning to pool ideas inside every of its eating places, a change they already made every week in the past, as of Might 12. Comal has grown to incorporate three places, together with the unique Comal in Berkeley, fast-casual spin-off Comal Subsequent Door close by, and extra of a hybrid of the 2 service types at Comal Subsequent Door in Oakland, which opened throughout the pandemic. Paluska additionally confirmed that he has parted methods with longtime accomplice Andrew Hoffman, who’s heading over to work with Water2Table, the sustainable seafood provider that works with many star eating places.
Paluska stated he nonetheless believes in the entire causes for the no-tipping mannequin, however he was confronted with a really totally different situation now, each within the scope of his restaurant group, and because the metropolis strikes into reopening post-pandemic. Including a service cost was a special choice for a standalone, sit-down restaurant in 2014, in comparison with rolling that call throughout three totally different eating places with extra counter service, to not point out pandemic-pushed takeout and supply. “Between the entire totally different enterprise fashions, we’re striving for consistency throughout all of the totally different eating places,” says Paluska. “ … and we finally concluded {that a} service cost for counter service doesn’t work.”

Comal was one in every of half a dozen eating places that made headlines round 2014, for switching to a no-tipping mannequin, across the similar time as Bar Agricole and Trou Normand in San Francisco, in addition to Camino and Duende within the East Bay. Bar Agricole and Trou Normand returned to ideas after lower than a yr, and have since closed throughout the pandemic, Camino closed in 2018, and Duende is the one one remaining to reopen this spring. “We have been one of many few locations left standing,” Paluska says. “No matter wave there was [in no-tipping restaurants], it dissipated shortly. We thought there can be power in numbers, however it didn’t occur.”
Nonetheless, this announcement comes solely two weeks after Zuni Cafe, the groundbreaking Californian restaurant on Market Avenue, introduced that it might be eliminating ideas, upsetting its legendary lifetime servers. Keep tuned for extra updates on the no-tipping debate, which clearly wages on because the Bay Space strikes into reopening.