Tipping Is Dead, RIP, Hurrah

di the waitress mad men

Now that cool kid restauranteur Danny Meyer has declared tipping over, can the rest of the food service world be far behind? Have we at last reached the tipping Tipping Point?

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. It’s a radical move — while many individual high-end restaurants have eliminated tipping, this is surely the first time zero-gratuity will be the universal policy for a major American restaurant group — casual restaurants included. Never before have so many diners been faced with such a sea change in how they pay for a full-service meal, and what they are expected to understand a fair price (and a fair wage) to be.

I am ALL IN FOR this, because food service employees should be treated like humans and given real salaries and benefits that are not dependent on the whims of consumers, and also because I hate having to do math at the end of a meal.

The cleverly designed and fun-to-read Eater article is all in for this, too, for slightly different but still valid reasons:

Meyer banned smoking at Union Square Cafe over a decade before the city put its restaurant-smoking ban into law. So if Meyer thinks we’d all be better off without tipping, he’s probably got a good reason for it.

They also quote Meyer, who offers, unsurprisingly, a cogent and persuasive argument:

The American system of tipping is awkward for all parties involved: restaurant patrons are expected to have the expertise to motivate and properly remunerate service professionals; servers are expected to please up to 1,000 different employers (for most of us, one boss is enough!); and restaurateurs surrender their use of compensation as an appropriate tool to reward merit and promote excellence … Imagine, if to prompt better service from your shoe salesman, you had to tip on the cost of your shoes, factoring in your perception of his shoe knowledge and the number of trips he took to the stockroom in search of your size. As a customer, isn’t it less complicated that the service he performs is included in the price of your shoes?

Yup, I’m on board.

Keep tipping your baristas, though, especially if you get artful foam. They deserve it.



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