Joe's Crab Shack is the first major chain to test a ban on tipping. So far, so good.

If you ask Raymond Blanchette, there's something fishy about the modern-day restaurant dining experience.

To Blanchette, the CEO of Ignite Restaurant Group, which owns Joe's Crab Shack, it has nothing to do with the food on your plate.


Photo via iStock.

It's this whole idea of tipping. It's just "antiquated," according to him. And that's why his crab shacks might be kicking tipping to the curb for good.

Joe's Crab Shack is testing a new no-tipping policy in many of its restaurants — the first time a major chain has done so.

Blanchette, who announced the news during an earnings call last week, said the testing has been underway throughout the past few months at 18 Joe's locations.

Photo via iStock.

At those locations, instead of having to rely on the generosity of customers, wages for servers, hosts, and bartenders will be upped to about $14 an hour (an improvement over the previous system in which servers were paid roughly $2 an hour, plus tips), with performance playing a factor in the exact rate, according to Restaurant Business.

Although tracking national data on tipping is a tough task, evidence suggests that $14 an hour is substantially higher than what many servers rake in when they rely on the kindness of strangers for their income.

It's a "forward-thinking" policy that won't just benefit workers, according to Blanchette — it'll boost business, too.

"It's expected to result in an improved team atmosphere, a significant reduction in [employee] turnover, and greater financial security for the employees," Blanchette said, as CNBC reported.

Essentially, a win-win.

In order to accommodate the wage increase, the restaurant is increasing menu prices ever so slightly — about 12% to 15%. But don't fret, frugal diners! Those increases are still less than 20% (the standard expected tipping percentage for fair-minded tippers), so many customers will actually end up paying less for their overall dining experience under the new model.

Some people have voiced concerns over this new tip-free system on the basis that it will hurt good customer service.

But there's good reason to believe that's simply not the case.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers/Getty Images.

"Quality of service has a laughably small impact on tip size," as Brian Palmer wrote for Slate back in 2013. He noted a study that found a diner's evaluation of the quality of their service only accounted for somewhere between 1% and 5% of the variation in tip amount.

Factors that do have a sizable impact on tip size? If customers use a credit card or if they pay with cash (credit card users dish out more dough to their servers). If customers are part of a larger dining party or a smaller one (bigger tables have a tendency to leave disproportionately smaller tips).

Even a server simply mentioning their name to diners has a bigger impact on tip size than the overall quality of service, Palmer wrote. So the argument that we should keep tipping around for the sake of good service doesn't realllly hold up when you think about it.

So far, it seems like the no-tipping model at Joe's is working out great.

"Though we're still in the test phase, we are already receiving very positive feedback from our guests, both anecdotally and in our service scores," Blanchette said, as WPXI reported. "Our staff has also embraced the change, which is important as we seek to implement the new policy across the system over time."

Now I can dunk my crab legs in butter knowing my patronage is going toward fair wages. That's certainly all the more reason for me to "Eat at Joe's."

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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