Navigating the intricacies of tipping culture can be a tricky endeavor, but Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creative minds behind South Park, have decided to alleviate the discomfort altogether by abolishing tipping at their restaurant.
In the United States, tipping has become customary, particularly due to the fact that servers often earn below the minimum wage, relying heavily on gratuities to make a decent living.
This practice has sparked contentious debates, with some advocating for fair wages and asserting that customers should not feel obligated to tip unless the service is exceptional.
Stone and Parker have taken a decisive step towards this notion in their new venture by implementing a system that eliminates tipping and instead guarantees servers a wage of $30 per hour.
Situated in Lakewood, Colorado, Casa Bonita is an iconic Mexican eatery and entertainment venue, spanning an impressive 52,000 square feet and boasting a rich history that spans almost half a century.
Its distinctive attractions, including indoor cliff diving and the immersive experience of Black Bart’s Cave, have earned it the nickname “Disneyland of Mexican restaurants” by the Denver Gazette.
In 2021, the acclaimed duo from South Park assumed ownership of Casa Bonita, rescuing the establishment from imminent bankruptcy following pandemic-induced closures.
According to the Denver Gazette, Stone and Parker acquired the venue for a substantial $3.1 million investment. Since then, they have injected an impressive $40 million into extensive renovations and enhancements to elevate the dining experience.
Currently undergoing a soft launch, the restaurant operates with limited dining hours while “beta testing” various elements. Prospective patrons have the opportunity to join a mailing list to secure tickets and experience the revitalized Casa Bonita.
Although Casa Bonita declined to comment on the new compensation structure when approached by FOX Business, a spokesperson previously explained to FOX 31 KDVR that the decision was influenced by customer behavior observed during the soft-opening nights.
The spokesperson shared, “During our soft-opening nights, we noticed that guests simply weren’t tipping. We believe this is due to our unconventional, pre-pay ticketing system.” With the revamped model, the waitstaff now earns a consistent wage that exceeds the average, as the spokesperson explained, “To provide a reliable wage that exceeds the norm, we transitioned to a no-tipping model and increased the hourly rate to over $30 for our service staff. This shift also benefits our guests, who can enjoy Casa Bonita without incurring unexpected costs.”
With the implementation of the new pay structure, the majority of the 256 employees seem satisfied, with only two expressing discontent. KDVR highlights that at $30 per hour, Casa Bonita staff would earn more than the median wage across all professions in Colorado, which the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported as $26.01 as of May 2022.
Stone and Parker have long held a fondness for Casa Bonita, immortalizing it in an episode aptly named “Casa Bonita” from the show’s seventh season. Aired in 2003, the episode showcased many of the restaurant’s unique features as the South Park boys attended a birthday party there.