At McAlister's Gourmet Deli, the waiters and waitresses do the tipping. Since the early 1990s, the wait staffs at every McAlister's have been putting all their tips aside, then donating them monthly, quarterly or annually to local charities. The policy was started by the Oxford, Mississippi-based franchise's founder, Don Newcomb, and is carried out in all 30 restaurants.
Deli customers order and pay for their food at the counter; the wait staff then delivers food to the tables and refills drinks. Patrons don't have to leave gratuities--in fact, signs abound on the walls that encourage customers not to leave tips. But below those signs are other signs that say if money is left, it will be donated to charity. Many of the customers choose to tip, whether it's a few coins or a few dollars.
Does the tipping policy help business? "I think there is a draw for customers who know we give back to the community," says Patrick Walls, director of franchising for McAlister's Management Corp. But Walls is reluctant to completely attribute the tipping to the donation policy. He would rather give credit to the employees, who he says deliver friendly, smiling service.
McAlister's Management Corp., (888) 855-3354, http://firstname.lastname@example.org