This week restaurateur Danny Meyer announced that he would be abolishing tipping in all of the restaurants in his USHG, beginning with The Modern this November. The tipping debate has been gathering steam over the past few years. Tipping proponents say that cash incentives motivate workers, that tips supplement paltry wages and give diners a fairly reliable control mechanism for minimizing the risk of a bad dining experience. The anti-tippers claim that paying every one a fair base wage to begin with is not only the right thing to do, but it results in better service because servers can concentrate on actually doing their jobs well, not spending time upselling or being obsequious in an attempt to bring in the bucks. Here is the full announcement email from Meyer:
I am writing to share some important news about Union Square Hospitality Group that we want you to understand before your next visit to one of our restaurants.
Recently, our entire company has been engaged in a robust conversation about how we can provide even more meaningful career opportunities and advancement for our 1,800 employees. It has become increasingly clear to us that a major obstacle in this endeavor is the practice of tipping.
There are countless laws and regulations that determine which positions in a restaurant may, and may not share in gratuities. 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.
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.
After a thoughtful, company-wide dialogue, I’m proud to let you know that Union Square Hospitality Group will eliminate tipping throughout our family of restaurants. Starting at The Modern in late November, you will no longer find a tip line on your check, and there will be no need to leave additional cash at the table, the coat check, or the bar. Our other New York restaurants will make this change over the course of the next year.
Once these changes are implemented, the total cost you pay to dine with us won’t differ much from what you pay now. But for our teams, the change will be significant. We will now have the ability to compensate all of our employees equitably, competitively, and professionally. And by eliminating tipping, our employees who want to grow financially and professionally will be able to earn those opportunities based on the merit of their work.
We are making a bold decision for our team and our guests, and we don’t take this lightly. We encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback at a Town Hall Meeting we're hosting for guests on November 2nd at 7:30pm in the Martha Washington Hotel. Space is limited, so please RSVP here. You can also email us your questions at HospitalityIncluded@ushgnyc.com.
We remain more committed than ever to our promise of delivering excellent dining experiences with warm hospitality—and we hope that you will both support our team and join us on this journey.
CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group