Dinette becomes the fifth Pittsburgh restaurant to establish a no-tipping policy

“Tipping has proven discriminatory against people of color and women. … I didn’t want to be complicit anymore,” chef and owner Sonja Finn said.

Sonja Finn's Dinette in East Liberty.

Sonja Finn's Dinette in East Liberty.

Jasmine Goldband / THE INCLINE
Rossilynne Culgan

Updated, 8:47 p.m. July 7

East Liberty’s Dinette, known for its wafer-thin pizzas and extensive wine list, will also now be known as the latest Pittsburgh restaurant to establish a no-tipping policy.

The restaurant is now the fifth Pittsburgh establishment to do away with tipping, joining Bar Marco in the Strip District, The Livermore in East Liberty, Casellula in the North Side and Mixtape in Garfield.

Dinette announced the news today on Twitter stating that “As of today, Dinette is a no-tipping restaurant. Prices of menu items now reflect the true cost of providing them. Customers: your total check will be the same as, likely less than, before.”

The Dinette staff will be paid a set hourly wage, chef and owner Sonja Finn told The Incline. Dinette’s staff comprises 11 employees, six of whom work in the front of the house. Dinette is currently hiring a cook.

A statement atop Dinette’s website now reads: “Dinette is a no-tipping restaurant.  True cost of providing these menu items is reflected in their price.”

“I’ve always not been a fan of tipping in practice, [being] employed in restaurants,” Finn said. “I realized if I wanted to do it, I needed to do it. One of the major reasons that I disagree with tipping is what has come out in several articles. … Tipping has proven discriminatory against people of color and women. While my servers have always made a good wage at Dinette, and it’s rare that they’ve been mistreated by customers … I think that by being a restaurant that accepts tips … we’re complicit in allowing what happens with this system in all other restaurants. I didn’t want to be complicit anymore.”

Finn said she explained her rationale to servers in advance and explained “that they’d still be making the same wage that they’d be making before. I’m doing this to guarantee them financial security.”

Dinette serves a daily changing menu of plates to share and starters, with pizza as the centerpiece. Finn and her staff grow ingredients on a rooftop garden and just made their first harvest of shishitos. They’re harvesting basil, herbs and arugula this time of year and waiting for tomatoes, figs and eggplant to sprout.

Since opening Dinette in 2008, Finn has been named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” twice and a regional nominee for Food and Wine’s “Peoples’ Best New Chef” twice.

Dinette has awarded the platinum designation — the highest possible ranking — from Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant, a sustainability performance program recognizing leading restaurants in the region. The sustainability report lauded the restaurant’s commitment to waste reduction, water conservation, employee actions and responsible sourcing. Dinette was the first Pittsburgh restaurant to receive achieve a sustainability designation and is the only independently-owned restaurant to score platinum status, Finn said.

In addition to her work at Dinette, Finn is the executive chef at The Cafe Carnegie at Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History in Oakland.

This story has been updated to clarify the number of employees at Dinette and to correct the number of tip-free establishments in Pittsburgh.