New York Restaurateur Eliminating Tips From All of His Restaurants

union square cafe

NY Post – Restaurateur Danny Meyer is doing away with tips at all his restaurants…

By the end of 2016, Meyer plans for all 13 of his eateries of his restaurant group, Union Square Hospitality Group, to adopt a European style of dining where the menu’s pricing is all-inclusive.

“I’d see nights where waiters were crying because somebody from Europe would walk out without leaving a tip,” Meyer told Eater.

He’s been thinking about changing the way Americans tip for decades, writing in a Union Square Cafe newsletter back in 1994 that our system is “awkward for all parties involved.” But this week, he made it official.

“Restaurant patrons are expected to have the expertise to motivate and properly remunerate service professionals,” he wrote. “Servers are expected to please up to 1,000 different employers (for most of us, one boss is enough!).”

Patrons will see some menu items increase as much as 35 percent.

Part of his tipless plan stems from the recent movement to increase fast-food workers’ pay to $15 an hour by 2018.

“Fine dining has an obligation to lead fast food in everything,” Meyer told Eater. “We can’t have a situation where we are asking someone to pay $40,000 to go to the Culinary Institute of America to then work for $12.50 per hour, when they could work in fast food for $15.”

“Fundamentally, the cost of going out to a fine dining restaurant is false,” he told Eater. “I feel that the prices on menus, for a restaurant that’s really trying to offer good value, don’t accurately express the true picture of what it costs for the people to make that happen.”

usq food

I’ve got a question: Does Danny Meyer hate America?  Sounds like he’s done pretty well for himself here, but ole boy is still trying to bring us down; trying to turn NYC into Paris, Jr. Do you see a baguette in my hand, Danny?!

I’ll admit that when I first read this article I was intrigued.  It’s ridiculous that employees at five star restaurants will soon be earning a much lower hourly wage than the stoned gentleman flippin’ burgers at Burger King.  When Meyer explained the job of a server or bartender as someone “expected to please up to 1,000 different employers” in a night, it sounds uber stressful.  But that’s capitalism, baby.  We operate on a structure that rewards our hardest working and most capable individuals. Do we really want to eliminate any incentive for employees to work hard?  Are we ready to sacrifice competition in the workplace?  Danny Meyer is.  Place your bets against Union Square Hospitality Group now because when Danny’s thirteen restaurants are filled with lazy servers and rude hosts, I’ll be the one who told you it was going down in flames.

Plus, do you think the best servers at Union Square Cafe are mad that they had to answer to “1,000 different employers” when they cash out hundreds of dollars in tips at the end of every shift? Hell. No.  Top level servers and bartenders want nothing to do with your bogus $18/hr wage.  They make at least double that in cold hard cash.  Sure, a $10/hr base wage sounds putrid when McDonald’s cashiers are making $15/hr, but McD’s employees will also never see a tip. Ever.  As for the fine dining employees that don’t make much in tips? The employees that suck at their job?  They’ll find a new career path. They’ll manage a McDonalds. That’s how America works.

Europe is a beautiful continent with an incredible array of culture, history, food, and nightlife. The time I’ve spent abroad was some of the best of my life and I envy the European lifestyle quite a bit. But if I want an $8 cappuccino and a skimpy, over-priced sandwich served by an inattentive waitress who takes two hours to bring over the bill, I’ll fly to Spain.  Grab me a jamon y queso on Las Ramblas and hit up Opium late night. Here in the U S of A we enjoy delicious, overindulgent meals at an reasonable price with service that makes each and every one of us feel like a king. Or at least a duke of some sort.

PS – I’m quite capable of calculating the total cost of an evening, too, so save that mess.  Total + 20%, don’t ever forget it.


One thought on “New York Restaurateur Eliminating Tips From All of His Restaurants

  1. We enjoy the culture of non tipping in Europe. Interesting perspective, and it’s very confusing to Europeans why American servers accept such an unlivable wage and then expect total strangers to be guilted into coughing up the salary their employer won’t pay.

    Also, European standards of service are very different. Many people we have talked to on our travels through 16 different countries in Europe find American service to be invasive and obnoxious. No one needs to be checked on every five minutes; if you need something, it’s up to you to flag your server down; the world is not here to serve you. You’re at a restaurant to enjoy good food, not to exchange pleasantries and life stories with a total stranger.

    In some countries here as I’m sure you’ve experienced as well, tipping of 10% is customary for excellent service. I’m curious to see how this restaurant will fare.

    Good read! Cheers

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