Daring Restaurant Bans Customers From Tipping Waitstaff

tipsThere is a war against tipping being waged in our country, friends. Some hold that tipping leads to uneven service and keeps wages low. And one restaurateur feels so strongly about the issue, he's flat-out banned tipping at his restaurant. Tipping is not allowed at Packhouse Meats. And in case you don't get the message, there's a hand with a finger chopped off and the words "no tipping" painted on the floor of his restaurant. I do believe we are to interpret that image as a threat.

Good luck trying to tip anyway -- credit card receipts are printed without a line for tips, though no one will stop you from leaving a little extra cash on the table. Owner Bob Conway says tipping "takes advantage of the servers." Whoa -- hasn't he seen what a no-tipping policy did for Amy's Baking Company?


Like ABC, Packhouse Meats has gotten the hater treatment from Yelp. Some customers complain that the no-tipping policy means wait staff have no incentive to offer good service -- and it shows. But not everyone hates it. In fact, Conways claims customers seem to come around once they hear his reasons. "We wanted our servers to participate in our productivity by giving them reasonable compensation based on sales. It takes the whim of the customers out of it."

Meanwhile, Conway compensates by offering employees at least $10 an hour or 20 percent of their individual food sales per shift. He says his servers end up taking home an average of $15 an hour.

I have to say, the more I hear about it, the more I agree with the no-tipping policy. I mean, why is it okay to pay someone below minimum wage with the vague hope that customers will make up for the difference? That should be the employer's responsibility!

As for tipping affecting the quality of service, I don't think that equation is as cut and dried as we'd like it to be. I think the majority of people are fair, but sometimes people forget, or their math is off, or they're just jerks. And anyway, tipping is not the only way to ensure good service. A smart employer can come up with other incentives (like Conway does). And if you find your service disappointing, you know what to do: Complain to the owner. It's not like dollars are your only way to communicate.

There's little to no tipping in Europe, and the no-tipping movement seems to be growing here. I would love not to do math at the end of the meal (oy, the indigestion). Maybe this really is the future of eating out.

Which do you prefer, tipping or paying servers a higher wage?


Image via RachaelVoorhees/Flickr

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