Will the $15-an-hour wage make people scrimp on tips?

Pity the owners of restaurants in Seattle.

Not so much because they’ll have to pay their workers $15 an hour, but because they have to wade through a morass of conditions and exceptions to figure out when they’ll have to pay their workers $15 an hour.

Employers in Seattle will pay the wage increase under the following conditions:

Those employing more than 500 employees nationwide have three years to reach the $15-an-hour mark, unless they offer health care benefits, in which case they have four years;

“Small” businesses have seven years;

Those businesses that offer health care and whose employees collect tips can count that money toward the $15 an hour and have until 2019 to figure out that formula.

This is what happens when Oberto makes sausage and public officials make law.

So what does it mean for the diner? Do we continue to tip? Where, when and how much?

Tipping is a personal decision. I’m not going to tell you what you ought to do, but I’ll let you in on my thinking.

As the son of a one-time waitress, I tip about 20 percent for most meals; at least $3 to $5 for bills under $20.

Seattle’s law, whether I’m in or outside of Seattle, isn’t going to change that custom for me.

Many will change how they tip because of the increased pay. If the employer has to make up the difference between tips and the mandated wage, why bother? Some diners, citing increases on the menu caused by perceived increases in labor costs, also are not going to be inclined to tip or will tip a smaller amount.

So why continue to tip 20 percent?

For me it’s fair play. If I can afford to go out to eat, I can afford to tip. I tip to show my appreciation to the person providing the service. On rare occasions I can even use a reduced tip to signal that something with that service wasn’t right.

Lawmakers’ attempts to improve things, whether you agree with them or not, shouldn’t keep us from the customs that are part of our community and our own practices.

New restaurant in Smokey Point

The Cellar has opened at the Medallion Hotel in Smokey Point, 16710 Smokey Point Blvd., Arlington.

The hotel’s restaurant has reopened under management of cousins Danny Pickering and Paul Pickering and executive chef David Peterson, who run the Stanwood Grill in Stanwood and Max Dale’s Steak &Chop House in Mount Vernon.

Danny Pickering sees The Cellar as filling a need in the area.

“There are a lot of chain-style restaurants close by, but not a lot of organic-driven food,” he said.

The menu features familiar ingredients in new combination, including coconut breaded cod with a chili lime sauce, bulgogi-marinated rib steak with house-made kimchi, prime rib, a candied bacon and pineapple burger and pulled pork sliders with green apple slaw.

Know about a new restaurant in Snohomish or Island counties? Send an email to features@heraldnet.com.

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