Waiters will no longer rely on tips at some of New York's iconic restaurants after an announcement today from restauranteur Danny Meyer:
Meyer owns the Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes some pretty fancy and pretty great restaurants like Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and The Modern at the Museum Of Modern Art.
"We believe hospitality is a team sport, and that it takes an entire team to provide you with the experiences you have come to expect from us," he wrote in a letter released today. "Unfortunately, many of our colleagues—our cooks, reservationists, and dishwashers to name a few—aren’t able to share in our guests’ generosity, even though their contributions are just as vital to the outcome of your experience at one of our restaurants."
He said the cost for diners at his restaurants "won't differ much from what you pay now," but that ditching tips means all employees will be better compensated. Meyer will roll out the policy in his restaurants over the coming year, starting with The Modern in November.
New York Eater writes that the move will "raise wages, save the hospitality industry, and forever change how diners dine." They explain:
Under the current gratuity system, not everyone at a restaurant is getting a fair shake. Waiters at full-service New York restaurants can expect a full 20 percent tip on most checks, for a yearly income of $40,000 or more on average—some of the city’s top servers easily clear $100,000 annually. But the problem isn’t what waiters make, it’s what cooks make. A mid-level line cook, even in a high-end kitchen, doesn’t have generous patrons padding her paycheck, and as such is, on average, unlikely to make much more than $35,000 a year.
Whether this will have a sweeping effect on the rest of the food service industry remains to be seen—but from the perspective of a regular customer who just likes to eat tasty food, taking the uncertainty out of the whole dining and tipping experience seems like a great plan.