Dining

Tipped Out

Brooklyn restaurateur Andrew Tarlow will eliminate tipping at all of his restaurants in 2016
Photo: Tasting Table
The Tipping Ban Debate

Brooklyn restaurateur Andrew Tarlow is hopping on the no-tipping bandwagon. The owner of Diner, Marlow & Sons, Roman's and more will eliminate tipping at all of his restaurants by the end of next year. Though a number of individual restaurants have taken the plunge in recent months (Eleven Madison Park, Insa, Bruno, among others), Tarlow is the first major restaurant group owner in New York to make the move since Danny Meyer announced in October that he would phase out tipping at all of his restaurants.

"We've been talking about it for quite a few years internally," Tarlow tells Eater critic Ryan Sutton. "Having Danny out in front of it has been a huge impetus for us to take the plunge."

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Tarlow will start the transition on January 18 at his Italian restaurant, Roman's, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, raising prices 20 percent and eliminating the gratuity lines on checks. The new prices will allow him to pay his kitchen team and waiters $15 an hour, and at least some of those employees will be able to participate in a revenue-share program.

While the effort to end tipping helps even out the long-standing pay discrepancy between front-of-the-house workers and kitchen staff, it also helps restaurant owners like Meyer and Tarlow avoid dealing with new labor regulations that will raise the tipped minimum wage in NYC considerably starting in January.

How diners will respond remains unclear. A survey taken this fall by research firm AlixPartners found that while 65 percent of diners would prefer to eat at restaurants that allow them to control how much they tip, 51 percent agreed that there is need for higher wages in the restaurant industry. Convincing diners to share the burden for that raise may be a matter of education for many.

But Tarlow seems confident that diners at his restaurants will understand, telling Sutton, "Diners want to spend money where the people who work there are being taken care of. They want to know their kitchen employees are being well paid."

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