FAQs about our "Tips to Charity" Program
How did this program start? Why do you do it?
First, if you have never been to Ono Brewing Company, you need to know that it is a DIFFERENT type of place. We are not your typical "brewery" or bar with a bartender and/or servers that come to the table. Ono Brewing Company has a self-serve beer wall and customers pour their own beer.
We were the first self-serve brewery in the VA/DC area, and at the time we opened, we were one of only a handful in the country, so we knew this was going to be a new concept for customers. Even though it is self-serve, there ARE employees at Ono. We do have human interaction. In fact, we think that since our employees aren't busy pouring beers for customers they are available to offer recommendations, answer questions, and talk to people about our product.
When we were getting ready to open in September 2017 and thought about "tipping" we didn't want customers to say "Hey, I poured my own beer! Why do I need to tip?" so at first, we removed tipping completely from the table. We said, "Tipping is optional. If you choose to leave a tip, 100% will go to charity." And that's how it started...... We paid our employees well so they did not need to rely on tips and donated 100% of any tips/gratuities.
As a small, family-owned business, it was important to us to give back to our community as much as possible and this program was a great way to do it. We make an effort to support local charities, with a goal of having the funds remaining in our community. We use our social media and our business to advertise on behalf of the amazing organizations we partner with each month. In addition to helping support them with funding, we help spread the word about the amazing things that people are doing in our community to help others! An added bonus from this program is the sense of community it has inspired within our walls. We love when our customers come back and ask, "Who are we supporting this month?" or when they come back specifically during a particular month to show support for a favorite organization. Our donations each month would not be as amazing if it wasn't for our generous customers!!
After a few months of this program, and listening to customer feedback (some voiced that they really wanted some of the tips to go to our amazing employees) and after seeing the high-quality service our employees do provide in greeting and educating our customers about the self-serve system, answering questions about our beer and making recommendations to customers, maintaining ABC regulations in the tasting room, cleaning/restocking glassware and maintaining the cleanliness/safety of the tasting room we moved to a 50% share between the monthly charity and our employees. It's the perfect balance of giving back to the community and rewarding our employees for the great work they do.
So you donate a portion of the tips... That is coming from the servers, not the company. Does the company actually donate or just the employees?
This is a question that gets asked occasionally. Again, we need to point out that there are no servers at Ono. We are different. We do have "Tasting Room Attendants" who greet and educate our customers about the self-serve system, answer questions about our beer and make recommendations to customers, maintain ABC regulations in the tasting room, clean/restock glassware and maintain the cleanliness/safety of the tasting room. For this job, we compensate them fairly (well above the average wage of a "bartender" or "server" who has to rely on tips) so they do not need to rely on tips.
Again, tipping is OPTIONAL at Ono. If a customer feels that since they poured their own beer, they don't want to tip, that is fine. Most of our customers do feel that even though our employees aren't pouring beers, they are providing a service to the customer, and feel it is customary to tip for that service. Again, we are open and transparent about the fact that, if they do tip, 50% will be shared by the employees (above and beyond their normal fair hourly wage) and the other 50% will go to charity.
To answer the question about..."Does Ono Brewing match the tips?" Well technically, no, however, in a way we do, because we pay our employees well so, yeah, if you want to look at it that way, Ono Brewing IS contributing GREATLY from our potential monthly profits by paying much higher wages.
How do you choose your monthly organization and how does someone suggest a worthy organization for consideration?
Scott and Cyndi, the owners of Ono Brewing Company, hand-select each of our monthly charity partners. Some of the organizations are near and dear to their hearts and their personal experiences, others have been recommended by our loyal Ono customers. We make an effort to support local charities, with a goal of having the funds remaining in our community. We are always looking for great organizations to support. If you have a recommendation, please feel free to email Cyndi at firstname.lastname@example.org.