Dining

The Tip-Off

Danny Meyer responds to critics by calling tipping ‘socialist'
Danny Meyer
Photo: Courtesy of Union Square Hospitality Group

Danny Meyer, the New York restaurant magnate behind Union Square Hospitality Group, is charging ahead with his campaign to end restaurant tipping as he stumps today in the New York Times magazine. Meyer responds to critics who have dubbed him a socialist because of his "Hospitality Included" program, which does away with tipping and raises prices, allowing him to pay front and back of the house workers a more equitable hourly rate

I would argue that tipping is far more socialist for this reason: In most fine-dining restaurants, tips are pooled. So when you leave your $50 tip, you think that you're giving it to your server, but that server is actually sharing it with everybody who can receive tips.

While Meyer will eliminate tipping at all of his restaurants before the end of the year, his support for the policy stops short of advocating for a law:

...if this becomes law and every other restaurant does what we do, my concern is we will lose one of the greatest commercial advantages we have. That's what happened with smoking at the Union Square Cafe. We banned it in 1990 and after the citywide ban, we weren't the one island you could go to to escape smoke.

Meyer's team hasn't released data on the financial impact of Hospitality Included, but his team is finding it easier to hire much needed cooks to fill their kitchens during the current "cook shortage." Case in point: Only two weeks after announcing his new program, applications for back of the house jobs at The Modern lept from two to three a month to two to three a day.

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