2023 NC Minimum Wage Guide for Restaurants

2023 NC Minimum Wage Guide for Restaurants

August 15, 2023

What is the minimum wage in North Carolina in 2023?

The minimum wage in North Carolina stands at $7.25, aligning with the federal minimum wage. NC doesn’t have a state minimum wage, and therefore follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Below is a 5 year view of the NC minimum wage:

  • 2018 - $7.25

  • 2019 - $7.25

  • 2020 - $7.25

  • 2021 - $7.25

  • 2022 - $7.25

  • 2023 - $7.25

Source: North Carolina Minimum Wage by Labor Law Center

Additional facts about the NC minimum wage:

  • Employers must pay a minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped employees, as long as each employee receives enough in tips to make up the difference between the wages paid and the minimum wage ($7.25).

  • An increase to a $15.00 state minimum wage was proposed in the NC House and Senate in 2022, but neither bill advanced.

  • North Carolina has the 41st highest minimum wage in the US

How North Carolina Businesses Can Offer Fair Wages

Creativity is key with narrow small business or restaurant margins. Boosting staff compensation through higher gratuity is a mutually beneficial for both your business and employees.

  1. Prioritize Hosting Team Excellence: Strong guest greetings set the tone for generous tips. Hiring attentive hosts, meeting wait-time expectations, and acknowledging reservations maximize tip potential. 

  2. Master Upselling Skills: A 10% bill increase equals 10% more tips. Train staff in upselling techniques, design menus to encourage upselling, and reap significant benefits.

  3. Opt for Card Tipping: Quick, convenient payment options enhance tips, sales, and guest satisfaction.

  4. Boost Table Turnover: Efficiently managing guest flow within 45 minutes per guest yields substantial nightly tip pools.

  5. Adopt Tableside POS: Handheld tablet POS systems elevate sales, guest convenience, and staff tips.

Use Margins to Improve Wages

Competitive wages don't have to be a luxury for small business owners! Here are some proven tips to increase your margins. 

  1. Optimize with POS Technology: Utilize advanced tech like POS systems, online orders, and reservations for efficient operations. Smart scheduling during busy times and sensible labor allocation during quieter periods minimize costs while maintaining quality service.

  2. Savings Matter: Control food costs meticulously—manage inventory, reduce waste, negotiate supplier deals, and consider bulk purchases. Adjust menu prices in line with ingredient changes and market trends.

  3. Maximize Menu Profitability: Strategically design your menu for higher profits. Highlight high-revenue items, use premium ingredients, and adjust sizes and prices intelligently without compromising customer satisfaction.

  4. Boost Margins with Loyalty Programs: Cultivate a loyal customer base via effective loyalty programs and branding. While initial investments may be needed, these strategies ensure lasting margin growth. Regular patrons spend more and visit more often, fueling sustained success.


In essence, understanding North Carolina's wage rules and enhancing compensation methods is vital for employers and employees. Staying current on laws and implementing strategies fosters a great workplace, attracts top talent, and drives exceptional service, fueling business success and growth. Good luck in your business endeavors!

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