A debate about tipping in restaurants has been raging for years. Many high-profile chefs argue that restaurants should do away with tipping entirely, and instead pay all workers—including servers and bartenders—a “living wage.” Others suggest that abolishing tipping will mean worse service; meanwhile, patrons will be paying 15 to 20 percent more for their meal.
Danny Meyer, the man behind the Shake Shack empire and Union Square Hospitality Group, will soon be taking the decision of how much to tip out of your hands. Eater editor Ryan Sutton just broke the news that Meyer plans to completely eliminate tipping at every one of his 13 full-service restaurants in NYC by the end of 2016 (starting with The Modern).
The restaurateur will do this not by automatically including a gratuity in the bill—like a number of high end restaurants already do—but by not having wait staff get tips at all. He’s calling his new system “Hospitality Included,” and it works like this:
- Many prices on the menu will be higher than they had been previously.
- Menus will display a note cluing diners in on the new policy.
- There will be no space on the check for leaving a tip.
Now, before you go all Norma Rae here, Meyer is not doing this in an attempt to screw his work force. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The restaurateur wants his employees—including waiters and cooks—to stick around. Under the new Hospitality Included model:
- Pay will reflect things like experience and seniority
- Kitchen support staff will earn no less than $11 per hour, and cooks will start at $14 per hour
- The kitchen staff will have a more regular schedule, working between 50 and 55 hours per week (they will also earn overtime)
- The kitchen staff will share the spoils of a busy night
- Front of house workers will take home at least as much as they did under the old system
- Eventually, salaried employees will see a pay increase
Many people in the restaurant industry agree that this is a revolutionary move by Meyer. Although, some argue that until more restaurants adopt the model, there will be no significant change in the system.
But it only takes one person to start a revolution, right? And a lot of folks on Twitter are stoked about USHG abolishing tipping.
The former expat in me is stoked for the slowly emerging tip-free economy in #NYC: http://t.co/ozI4VEbk7l #restaurants #tipping @USHGNYC
— Carly DeFilippo (@carlydefilippo) October 14, 2015
This is good. People who don’t tip should be shot into the sun http://t.co/kDsSV4UjnY
— patrick (@pattymo) October 14, 2015
It’s crazy that we DO TIP at restaurants. Do you tip your lawyer or mechanic? No, you just pay. This is awesome: http://t.co/s0f0yTSY0O
— Dan Siegel (@realmandan) October 14, 2015
But the real question is: How do servers and kitchen staff feel about this change?