Move to End Tipping Gains More Momentum

yI1Ya0x8QbiTi7potxLc_022.jpgDanny Meyer’s decision to end tipping at all his restaurants has already become the sort of high profile case that’s likely to spark conversation and debate in circles reaching far beyond the industry. As two more restaurateurs move to join him, it now seems like his announcement represents a major tipping point (pun intended) in what is considered standard.

This week both Gabriel Stulman and Andrew Tarlow announced that they would eliminate tipping at some or all of their restaurants. Stulman is the owner of six casual restaurants in downtown Manhattan, including Fedora on West 4th where he plans to eliminate gratuities in January. Stulman calls this a test drive of the new system, but ultimately he hopes to implement it at more of his restaurants as well. Tarlow, who is responsible for Diner and Marlow & Sons, said he plans to completely eliminate gratuities at all of his restaurants in 2016.

Although Meyer seems to have set off a domino effect, the trend is likely also due to the $2.50 increase in New York’s tipped minimum wage, which will go into effect in January. For many restaurants, it makes more sense to eliminate tipping altogether and hope that they can communicate the change effectively and avoid sticker-shock at higher prices.

Although the anti-tipping movement cites fairness as a major motivator, with higher wages for back of house workers as well as well as front of house, some employees may balk at the change, which puts more money in the employer’s pockets (at least until it reaches the workers paychecks). Stulman in particular is preparing for this backlash by offering “guaranteed wages for the members of our dining room team to be consistent with what they were averaging before the change.” To meet this requirement he’ll be increasing prices around 25% across the board.

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