- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2016

Following negative reaction from both wait staff and customers, the company that owns the Joe’s Crab Shack seafood chain has announced it’s paring back its test run of a no-tipping policy started in 18 of its 130 locations in November.

Now just four of the chain’s 130 locations will remain gratuity-free, a concession which seemingly annoys the company’s top leadership.

“The system has to change at some point but our customers and staff spoke very loudly,” Ignite Restaurant Group CEO Bob Merritt told reporters on a May 4 earnings call.

Despite a drop in quarterly sales, lower operating margins, higher labor costs and survey data showing displeased customers, Mr. Merritt seems convinced that a cultural shift to gratuity-free dining is just a matter of time, at least in some markets.

“We are going to try to figure out why it worked in some places and why not in others,” Mr. Merritt said. “The way we look at it is: We are really continuing the tests in place with where it works.”

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