Tipping in restaurants is mostly an American practice, and one that often causes frustration and confusion for both customers and restaurant employees. Customers can feel obligated to provide money they may not feel is justified by the service. Employees may not actually participate in a fair share. Still the practice has remained largely out of custom, and because it allows restaurateurs to keep their prices and payroll lower by passing some labor costs directly to the customer.
A smattering of restaurants have adopted a tip-less policy, but many have held back for fear of scaring away customers with higher pricing. Until now. New York restaurant impresario Danny Meyer announced today that his entire Union Square Hospitality empire, which employs 1800, will cease their tipping practice by the end of 2016.
Meyer successes include the now-publicly traded Shake Shack, as well as Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Avenue, and Union Square Cafe--just to name a few--assured customers in an extensive letter that this will improve service and that the adjusted pricing will be comparable to what customers are used to paying. Meyer has earned a reputation for being unusually dedicated to hospitality, and, true to form, he invited his entire email list to discuss the tipping policy at a public forum in November.
Meyer clearly believes that the practice of tipping no longer impacts the quality of service. And perhaps his customers will feel less anxiety about being fair, generous, or having to pull out their 5th grade math skills every time they want to go out for a meal. But is this the beginning of the end for tipping?
Click on the below to read the letter in its entirety. Do you think other restaurants will follow Meyer's lead--and that tipping will go away for good?