Restaurant Banned Tips & Got Some Surprising Results

cash bill restaurantBack in June, a NYC restaurant named Sushi Yasuda made headlines for doing away with tipping. They explained to customers that "following the custom in Japan ... service staff are fully compensated by their salary. Therefore gratuities are not accepted." Instead, the restaurant began charging a bit more overall -- and including a service fee. Of course there were people who balked at the idea, but it seems like even more have come out of the woodwork to say they're down with it. Including restaurant owners, who say that going tipless is good for everyone -- patrons and restaurant staff alike.

One such owner, Jay Porter, wrote a piece in Slate this week, explaining how he ran a restaurant called the Linkery for six years without tips. Every dine-in check included a service charge of 18 percent, and they refused to accept any tip beyond that. He says service and the quality of food improved as a result.

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Think about it: It's not all that surprising ... Because the service charge led to equal opportunity tip revenue for all staffers, the cooks were being paid more and didn't feel taken for granted. Good food equals more patrons, and Porter says that the servers made more money than they had been making when they were tipped, which I'm sure boosted their morale!

He also argues that contrary to popular belief, tipping is NOT an effective incentive for performance for servers. In fact, he says it creates an environment in which patrons who aren't white guys -- in other words, women, people of color, old people, young people, and foreigners -- often get poorer service, because they aren't perceived as good tippers. Plus, non-white servers end up making less than their white peers for equal work. Ugh!

When you think about it that way, it seems to make so much more sense to skip tipping altogether in lieu of a built-in 18 percent service fee! I'm sure there will continue to be resistance to the tipless model, because people are so used to it -- and like Porter points out, it also allows patrons to feel like they have "power over" their server ... Ridic.

Call me overly optimistic or naive, but I really do feel like most people would prefer to go with what Porter describes, especially if the upshot would be as positive as he notes. And the sooner we realize tipping is only serving to hurt our dining out experience, the sooner the antiquated practice may be on its way out! 

Does this convince you that restaurants are better off banning tips?


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