Front-page news in this week’s New York Times: “Tipping to End at Danny Meyer Restaurants.” That in itself qualifies the topic as big news. Making it bigger still: The article is number two on today’s “Most Emailed” list.
Following are excerpts from Mr. Meyer’s announcement on the Union Square Hospitality Group website:
Recently, our entire company has been engaged in a robust conversation about how we can provide even more meaningful career opportunities and advancement for our 1,800 employees. It has become increasingly clear to us that a major obstacle in this endeavor is the practice of tipping.
We believe hospitality is a team sport, and that it takes an entire team to provide you with the experiences you have come to expect from us. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues — our cooks, reservationists, and dishwashers to name a few — aren’t able to share in our guests’ generosity, even though their contributions are just as vital to the outcome of your experience at one of our restaurants.
I’m proud to let you know that Union Square Hospitality Group will eliminate tipping throughout our family of restaurants. Starting at The Modern in late November, you will no longer find a tip line on your check, and there will be no need to leave additional cash at the table, the coat check, or the bar. Our other New York restaurants will make this change over the course of the next year.
Once these changes are implemented, the total cost you pay to dine with us won’t differ much from what you pay now. But for our teams, the change will be significant. We will now have the ability to compensate all of our employees equitably, competitively, and professionally. And by eliminating tipping, our employees who want to grow financially and professionally will be able to earn those opportunities based on the merit of their work.
So, have we reached a tipping point on tipping? Will the practice now begin gradually disappearing from America’s dining landscape?
Certainly the move by Meyer, one of the country’s most successful and acclaimed restaurateurs, may come to be seen as a turning point. But it’s not a given.
As a perusal of the comments posted by Times readers shows, diners’ attitudes toward tipping remain a decidedly mixed bag. For every post extolling the service in non-tipping cultures like Japan’s, there’s a warning that untipped waiters will have no incentive to provide friendly, professional service. For everyone who argues that tipping is fundamentally flawed, there’s another who advocates for maintaining the status quo.
Tipping, it seems, won’t go gently or quietly. But go it should. As one commenter put it, “With more Americans dining out than at any point in history (out of necessity), workers should be compensated fairly and not be left to the whims of patrons who are rude, cheap or simply ignorant of how food service workers are compensated — or not.” Yep, what he said.
Reader Reality Check
Slightly higher menu prices, but no tip line on the bill: Yay or nay?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.