Policy Initiative

Policy Initiative

The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) Policy Initiative aims to be the voice that amplifies and advocates for improved equitable benefits and resources for the U.S. hospitality industry while calling the community to action. Our intention is to effectively change antiquated and subpar labor standards through strategic policy reform efforts, education, grassroots advocacy organization, and support of legislative action.

As proponents for change, our objective includes providing resources for both the employee and employer on wage law standards and protections, information regarding access to healthcare benefits, sexual harassment training specifically geared towards bartenders and servers, and youth worker engagement, all supported with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

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Join the Bar Professional Policy Network

Join the TOTCF Bar Professional Policy Network.  To get started, create an account and log in by clicking the link below.

Network members can use this website to stay up to date on the latest policy developments, share your thoughts with the rest of the community, get advocacy tips and tell us about your interactions with elected officials.


About the TOTCF Policy Initiative:

The Policy Initiative positions Tales of the Cocktail Foundation as an advocate for the hospitality industry to change policies that will create sustainable labor equity for bar and restaurant workers. This initiative could serve to change the lives of everyday hospitality workers and attract a new labor force.

This initiative intends to establish a compilation of policy recommendations and suggestions that may start a progressive dialog among restaurant industry executives, politicians, and advocates to support significant changes in economic and labor standards for all bartenders and servers in the United States. 

Goals of the Policy Initiative: 

  • Our desire is to help bartenders and servers improve the quality of their profession and increase protections for bartending and serving as viable, long-term careers.
  • Conduct research and support efforts toward effective policy changes.
  • Establish and implement education resources on policy efforts across the United States.
  • Advocate for implementing transformative solutions related to racial and economic justice for bartenders and servers.
  • Organize grassroots advocacy development through our advocacy hub, launching in February 2024.
  • Support advocacy efforts that ensure policy language is reflective and exclusively tailored to the restaurant industry.
  • Advocate for funding to address the lack of quantitative data specifically for the servers and bartenders.
  • Advocate raising the subminimum wage of $2.13.

WHY: Raising the wage floor for bartenders and servers is crucial. 

Employment in the full-service restaurant industry has grown over 85% since 1990, while overall private-sector employment grew by only 24%. In fact, today, more than one in ten U.S. workers are employed in the restaurant industry, making labor policies for these industries central to defining typical work life and the labor market inequities that are deeply embedded in this nation.

Improved labor standards for bartenders and servers would significantly improve the well-being of millions of American workers and their families and help to reduce long-standing race and gender-based wage inequities.

Further statistical research and advocacy development in policy initiatives could lead to a higher minimum wage and increased access to benefits like healthcare, childcare, and continuing education. The lack of research in the service industry, the lack of a common place for resource availability to educate and inform members of the service industry, and funding for coalition building throughout the service industry have made the potential of building a lifelong career and advocating for change in this industry challenging. 

HOW: These long-term goals may be achieved through strategic policy reform efforts, education, grassroots advocacy organization, and support of legislative action.

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation 2023 Bartender & Service Industry Research Results

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation surveyed over 510 bartenders and service industry professionals to learn their opinions about compensation. Often, the discussion and action surrounding the minimum wage ignores or excludes bartenders and servers. Yet this is a growing occupational sector, and effective policy could transform jobs in states paying the lowest wage nationwide. It is vital to have bartenders and servers be part of discussions surrounding policy actions that affect their lives. This initiative aims to give these individuals a voice in policy decisions made specific to their industry.

  1. From the research efforts, it was determined that restaurant and bar workers are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experience working in the hospitality service industry. 80% describe their experience as “satisfying,” while just 4% describe it as “unsatisfying.” This satisfaction is especially high among bartenders and bar managers, with 94% and 96%, respectively, saying their experience has been “satisfying.”

  2. For bar workers, the most desired change to the industry is having employer-provided health insurance, with 64% saying this would do the most to improve their experience. For restaurant workers, 74% say that higher pay is the most desired change to the industry.

  3. Workers overwhelmingly support the initiative to raise the federal minimum wage, with 83% supporting it across all states and hospitality job types. 


Policy Committee

The Policy Committee is vital in establishing actionable goals and solutions for developing a multifaceted policy agenda focused on federal policy reform in support of bartenders and service industry professionals. The Policy Committee includes various bar industry experts and young industry professionals who can provide a unique perspective in formulating the foundation of a strategic policy agenda, which is intended to positively impact the bar industry and profession through a policy reform action plan and advocacy efforts. The Policy Committee’s efforts are a long-term engagement between the community, bar industry professionals, and policymakers to implement substantial policy changes nationwide.

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