An “ex-Chilihead” took to TikTok to complain about Chili’s system for paying employees based on tips and sales, with hashtags highlighting “restaurant industry problems,” and stating more broadly, that “capitalism sucks.”
TikTok user Clara B. (@thoseawkmoments) created the video as part of a conversation about tipping at restaurants. In response to a server who commented about making $177 in tips but having to pay out $100 to other employees, Clara broke down the math. Generating more than 79,000 views in just one day on the platform, she detailed how it didn’t seem a fair shake for any of the Chili’s employees involved.
“Welcome back to ex-Chiliheads TikTok, where I’m here to remind you that Chiliheads are not mad about how much money they make, because we make good money,” Clara begins the video. “We’re mad about where that money has to come from and how much of it we have to give away to other employees who are paid sub-minimum wage.”
Then, she breaks down the viewer’s comment about making $177 in tips but only taking home $77. “She also commented that the food runners will leave before their shift is over and they still have to pay out 4% of total sales, even for the sales that happen while the food runner is not in the building, which is the same thing that was happening to me,” Clara recalls.
@thoseawkmoments Replying to @partygirl3550 its still happening #chilihead #tipout #waitresstok #servertok #waitresstiktok #chilis #chilistiktok #chilisbirthday #chilislove #chiliheads #wageinequality #wagegap #restaurantindustry #restaurantindustryproblems #eattherich #capitalism #capitalismsucks #essentialworker #essentialworkers #essentialworkersbelike #foodservice #viral #fyp #fypage #fypシ ♬ original sound – Clara B.
Then comes some math.
“So assuming that their tip-out works the same way mine did, this person pays out 4% to their food runner, and 1% to their bar, so they pay out a total of 5% of sales as a tip out,” she says. “$100 of tip out would mean that she did $2,000 in sales today. If she had made 20% tips on all of her checks, she would have made $400 on that $2,000 in sales. Today, she averaged a tip of 9%. Regardless of that fact, 5% of her sales is owed to her bartender and her food runner because both of them get paid $2.13 per hour, just like her.”
Though she labels the workers as being “sub-minimum wage,” $2.13 is the federal minimum wage for those considered tipped employees. However, as the Department of Labor notes, some state laws stipulate higher rates, and the combined Basic Combined Cash & Tip Minimum Wage Rate is supposed to total $7.25 an hour.
Clara observes that the server took home about 4% of her sales and income that day. “Imagine for a second the frustration…” she explains. “Employers get away with paying them $2.13 per hour, but the server pays out $100 on a single shift to pad these other employees’ incomes. And also imagine if this person had not made any tips today at all. They would be in the negative $100.”
The former Chili’s employee emphasizes that regardless of how much a server makes in tips, they are still required to tip out a percentage of their total sales to their co-workers.
“It doesn’t matter if you make $0 in tips,” she repeats. “You owe 4% of your sales to the food runner and 1% to the bartender.” She concludes by asking, “Do you see where the frustration comes from?”
Many commenters understood Clara’s point of view.
“Oh, I have worked a shift and walked out owing like $50 tip out making negative money,” one fellow Chilihead revealed. “A party of 20 left $4 and that was the only table I had that day.”
Another noted, “This is literally why I quit Chili’s. That and the $2 tips on every table because of the 3 for $10,” referring to a special the chain has previously offered.
“I don’t understand why the tip out is based on sales and not a percentage of the total tips,” one wondered.
“People usually claim it’s because servers lie about their tips,” the creator responded, adding, “which is insane bc most payments are on card & those are tracked by the system.”
“I don’t tip out anything,” declared one commenter. “That’s exactly how it should be.”
Clara then elaborated, “They don’t have a choice, it’s an automatic deduction before the tips are distributed on their pay cards the next morning.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Clara via TikTok comment and to Chili’s via its website form.