Eater has the scoop: Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group is eliminating tipping at all of their full-service restaurants.
Big news out of Manhattan: Dining out is about to get turned on its head. Union Square Hospitality Group, the force behind some of New York’s most important restaurants, will announce today that starting in November, it will roll out an across-the-board elimination of tips at every one of its thirteen full-service venues, hand in hand with an across-the-board increase in prices.
Why are they doing this? In part because cooks get the shaft at restaurants:
Under the current gratuity system, not everyone at a restaurant is getting a fair shake. Waiters at full-service New York restaurants can expect a full 20 percent tip on most checks, for a yearly income of $40,000 or more on average — some of the city’s top servers easily clear $100,000 annually. But the problem isn’t what waiters make, it’s what cooks make. A mid-level line cook, even in a high-end kitchen, doesn’t have generous patrons padding her paycheck, and as such is, on average, unlikely to make much more than $35,000 a year.
I hope this catches on.
Jay Porter recently wrote a series of posts about his experience running a restaurant that abolished tipping. Here’s part one:
This is a summary of the experiences I had in our no-tipping lab, and in my next few posts I’ll dig a little deeper into each of them. Then I’ll finish this series by talking about what I’ve learned this year from a couple new friends who are researchers from the University of Guelph, and who have brought me in contact with some deeper thoughts about the tipping issue, from the social justice side. After seeing what they and their colleagues have uncovered, I’ve become convinced that thoughtful cultures who value civil rights will make tipping not just optional but illegal; and that this could actually happen sooner rather than later, when courts assess the reality of the situation.
If you want the Cliff Notes version, Porter wrote a shorter piece for Slate.
When we switched from tipping to a service charge, our food improved, probably because our cooks were being paid more and didn’t feel taken for granted. In turn, business improved, and within a couple of months, our server team was making more money than it had under the tipped system. The quality of our service also improved. In my observation, however, that wasn’t mainly because the servers were making more money (although that helped, too). Instead, our service improved principally because eliminating tips makes it easier to provide good service.
Elizabeth Gunnison Dunn offers six reasons why tipping, particularly at restaurants, should be eliminated.
The friendships I’ve formed with restaurant employees over the years have made me think seriously about why hospitality workers are singled out among America’s professionals to endure a pass-the-hat system of compensation. Why should a server’s pay depend upon the generosity — not to mention dubious arithmetic skills — of people like me?
(via @LonestarTacoNYC, who are starting back up at New Amsterdam Market this weekend)
Out to dinner with friends: split the check evenly or not? “I find if you don’t split it evenly, and everyone pays ‘what they owe’ many people will pay much less than they owe, forgetting tax and tip. Then they avert their eyes while the generous ones pony up the extra bucks.”
James Surowiecki, the New Yorker’s resident economist, weighs in on the tipping debate. (Previously discussed here.)
According to a cocktail waitress, how tipping works in NYC bars is a little different than in restaurants. Tourists, particularly foreign ones, tip poorly, if at all, causing some wait staff to pad bar bills to get their tip that way. Another data point in the “is tipping good/bad?” debate, but I could have done without the sense of entitlement on the part of the author. (via tmn)
Thomas Keller’s Per Se is getting rid of tipping, opting for a 20% flat rate for service to be split between the entire staff.
Does the Shitty Tipper Database seem wrong to anyone else? I’m all for underpaid service staff venting and attempting to raise public awareness about bad tipping (which, in the absence of poor service, amounts to an unjust pay-cut determined completely by some random idiot customer). But since when is anything under 17% considered shitty? $0 on a $125 bill, that’s shitty. 15% (on the pre-tax amount, I might add) is still the industry standard, no matter how much it sucks to get exactly the minimum for adequate service.
More importantly, what gives these people the right to take someone’s full name off of a credit card (procured on the job, BTW) and put it up on the web because of some completely subjective gauge of service provided? If I’m eating somewhere, my expectation is that my credit card is being used only for payment and not for any personal use by the employees of the restaurant. If I don’t leave someone what they think was deserved, they should catch me on the way out and ask me about it. Perhaps I forgot or miscalculated. Or maybe the service was a bit off in my mind. If I left no tip, I probably talked to the manager about why I did so and they’ll be hearing about it from them. But to be all passive aggressive and get my name from my CC and post it on some internet message board…that suggests to me that maybe they didn’t deserve a good tip in the first place.
Racial disparities in tipping taxi drivers. African-American drivers were tipped 1/3 less than white drivers and African-American passengers tipped 50% less than white passengers.