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20 Oct 2015 08:57
Customers enjoying a meal in New York. (Reuters)
A restaurant group that includes some of the country’s highly regarded and most popular dining locations is set to eliminate tipping.
Restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group,
which runs establishments like Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe in New
York, will begin its new practices in November and the change could affect some 1800 people employed by the company.
The no-tipping policy will launch at The Modern, a
restaurant at Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art. Meyer’s other restaurants will
follow suit over the next year.
Over the last few years, reduced or eliminated tipping
policies have been implemented in some US restaurants, most of them high end,
including Manhattan’s Per Se and northern California’s Chez Panisse.
compensate for the loss of tips, some restaurants put a surcharge on the bill
while others bump up menu prices to pay a higher hourly wage to servers.
Meyer’s group plans to increase menu prices and raise hourly
wages for kitchen employees to $15.25 from $11.75 at The Modern, the New York
One reason for Meyer to eliminate tips is to retain kitchen
staff who have not seen the same increase as dining room workers.
“The gap between what the kitchen and dining room
workers make has grown by leaps and bounds,” Meyer is quoted as saying.
A shift in the public’s collective mentalityTipping in the US is commonly seen as a tradition, a
distinctive piece of American culture . But it can also be unfair to restaurant
workers who do not always receive tips, and to servers who are judged based on
their race, age and other factors that have nothing to do with their customer
“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,” Meyer said in a
statement on October 14.
Eliminating the tip involves a shift in the public’s
collective mentality, said Kim Alter, a San Francisco-based restaurateur who is
working to open a restaurant called Nightbird and Linden Room that will have a
“It’s a mindset we have in America,” Alter told
the Guardian. Her family members and friends have always tipped based on
quality service, she said, which can have unjust effects.
Alter plans to implement the no-tipping policy by paying her
entire staff, including restaurant workers and bartenders, an “incredibly
higher rate” than other restaurants. She declined to share exact salaries,
but said: “No one is going to be making minimum wage.”
“It’s the kind of direction we have to go,” she
said. To keep the policy in place, Alter wants to keep her tasting
menu priced at around $115, which would include everything but alcohol.
“I want to keep it reasonable so that people can see
you can get good service without tipping,” she said. – © Guardian News & Media 2015
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