The No-Tipping Point
The days of diners ending their meal with a math problem might be numbered. Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group, a collection of 13 restaurants that includes Gramercy Tavern and The Modern, are the latest restaurateurs to do away with tipping. The new system, called Hospitality Included, will raise the prices of dishes, and there will be no line to add a tip on the new bill. Because of Meyer's staggering influence, this decision could have a ripple effect around the country, with other restaurateurs following suit.
Meyer told Eater this was to help fix the pay imbalance between servers and kitchen staff, like cooks and dishwashers. Many of the back-of-house workers make the New York minimum wage of $8.75 an hour, while servers can make $40,000 a year, with the most successful clearing $100,000. Under Hospitality Included, cooks will make $14 an hour, while servers will make $9. Servers are included in a revenue-sharing program that Meyer hopes will match their current pay—the specific details of which aren't yet public.
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Hospitality Included debuts at The Modern next month with the rest of Meyer's restaurants following on a staggered schedule through the end of 2016. Other restaurants, like Dirt Candy in New York and The Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle, have also gotten rid of tipping, using a surcharge that's added to bills to pay their workers better, without reporting major problems.
The no-tipping trend coincides with the debate happening across the country over increasing minimum wage. Some expensive cities like Seattle and San Francisco are raising wages anywhere from $12 to $15 an hour, dwarfing the $7.25 federal minimum wage set in 2009. In New York, fast-food workers recently won the fight to increase their minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018, and back in March, the state ruled to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers from $5 to $7.50. Governor Cuomo is campaigning to set the minimum wage at $15 an hour for all workers.
What remains to be seen is if all servers will stay on board with Meyer after the new policy is implemented. After all, a server at Union Square Cafe who is regularly tipped 20 to 30 percent on hefty tabs could very well make less income under the new system.
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