Old habits die hard

Danny Meyer

On Friday, Danny Meyer's restaurant The Modern in NYC began a new, "no-tipping" policy. It's part of a plan to make all of his Union Square Hospitality-run restaurants tip-free by the end of 2016. Meyer implemented the policy to level the playing field between wait staff and kitchen staff as the latter generally makes much less. But the new policy is meeting with some resistance, reports Grub Street.

The new, higher-priced menus all include the line "Please note that our prices are all-inclusive," and the receipts remind diners they've just eaten at a "no-tipping restaurant." There shouldn't be any confusion, but as a survey of diners shows, the policy is not being followed yet.

"We left a [$20] tip," one couple said. "We forced her. We left it and ran. [The server] was very polite and did not want to accept it, but we felt she had made such beautiful wine choices and she needed to be rewarded for her extra effort." A different guest said he's "a little opposed because I don't really know what's going into the hands of the staff," so he left a 30% tip.

Other restaurateurs are likely watching this situation closely. There has long been a debate over tipping policy in the U.S. In most states, wages for professions that customarily receive tips are much lower than the non-tipped minimum wage (as low as $2.13USD per hour). This makes tipping less of a reward for good service than part of the wage. Many groups have lobbied to change this situation, but only a handful of areas have done away with a tipping wage (but tips are still allowed and even encouraged).

A recent poll of New York City diners showed that they actually liked being able to tip, so it will be interesting to see if Meyer's new policy will be accepted. Says Meyer, "I don't have a crystal ball. We could be dead wrong on this thing." Would you welcome a change to a no-tipping policy?

5 Comments

  • mr.paul  on  11/22/2015 at 8:32 PM

    Yes. I enjoy it when I visit countries where it is 'service included'. If the service is bad, I'm not going to stiff the person, I'm just not going to go back.

  • LorraineGarratt  on  11/22/2015 at 9:05 PM

    Re yr no tipping in NYC. I am English and we certainly don't tip for the sake of it, only if we think the service we received deserved one. If not then no tip. Also we don't give large tips - we can't afford it.

  • veronicafrance  on  11/23/2015 at 3:04 AM

    In France, service is always included, but it's not forbidden to leave a modest tip if you are really pleased with the service (a 30% tip is staggeringly high!). I dare say over time the NY situation may settle down to this. Much better than tips being necessary just to make a living wage.

  • JanGlen  on  11/23/2015 at 1:24 PM

    Living in New Zealand where tipping is not practiced we try our best to persuade our U.S. visitors to follow the local custom while here. We believe that the adoption of tipping would have a variety of adverse effects and we are happier without it. Some tourists do find it almost impossible to accept that a tip is neither needed nor expected but to anyone planning a visit, please, please do not tip in countries where it is not the norm.

  • nicolthepickle  on  11/25/2015 at 5:17 AM

    I prefer to tip only if the service is good. Here in Canada tipping is very common, and it hurts a little to tip if your server brought you the wrong drinks and cold pie. But you still do it. I'd rather have the option.

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