One restaurateur’s brave stance in eliminating tipping

You’ve reached the end of your meal. It’s already been a long night of waiting, socializing and eating. You’re beginning to become a little sleepy, and already thinking about the commute home.

Then you’re handed a check, and so begins the night’s biggest conundrum.

Tipping should be easy. A simple math problem. And if you’re too lazy to figure it out yourself, your phone will do it for you. But anybody who’s eaten out knows how aggravating it can be.

Do I tip extra because service was good? Do I short-change because my meal tasted lackluster — something that’s completely out of the waiter’s control? A lot of questions arise.

And this isn’t even considering the number of your party. When you’re dining in a group, with everybody ordering different meals of varying prices, then this simple task suddenly becomes a nightmare.

TippingFrom what I understand, in no country in the world is tipping more greatly entrenched in culture than in America. We’re expected to tip almost everyone that conducts a service for us. And tipping low — or God forbid, not at all — is considered among one of society’s greatest taboos.

I appreciate what waiters do for me. They’re on their feet all night while waiting on my beckoning call. It’s their job to make sure I have an enjoyable evening, and most of the time they do.

But why is it that we have a system in place in which there income relies so heavily on a customer’s mood? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Not only that, but tipping makes menu prices misleading. Many people order their food based on price. They see a dish for $16.99, but then, after tip and tax, pay almost $30. Tipping inconveniences both the customer and worker.

Enter Danny Meyer, a restaurateur who owns 13 high-end establishments in New York City, who is fazing out tipping beginning next month. In its place, Meyer will hike prices a bit, and have a notice on his menu informing that costs include charges for “hospitality.” There will be no line on checks to fill out a tip.

His first restaurant to implement this policy will be The Modern, located inside the Modern Museum of Art.

I applaud this. Not only with my hands, but I’m clapping my feet too because I appreciate it so much. While prices will be increasing, they’ll at least more accurately reflect the actual net cost of what you will pay for the night when your check comes.

One of the reasons for the change is because while waiters get to divvy up tips, the law does not allow it to also be disseminated to jobs that normally aren’t tipped, like chefs, dishwashers and reservationists, whose salaries aren’t keeping up with the cost of living in a city as expensive as New York. Taking away tips allows Meyer to not only raise those jobs’ salaries, but his waiters’, too, to compensate for loss in tips. Essentially, everyone wins.

Hopefully restaurateurs across the city — and maybe the country — will keep a close eye on this, and follow Meyer’s lead. One restaurant in Pittsburgh, Bar Marco, actually did this earlier in the year, and the results have been positive.

Side note — is there a more obnoxious title than “restaurateur?” I refuse to call anybody that. It’s like calling somebody a maestro.

What’s next? Am I going to start asking people to call me a blogauteur?

Ooh, I like that. Do that.

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