In early October, Danny Meyer took the restaurant and hospitality industry by surprise, and announced that he would be getting rid of tips at all of his Union Square Hospitality Group's restaurants, such as, Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and more.
Today, his initiative will officially go into effect. The first restaurant to undergo the change is The Modern, located within the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown, New York City. Meyer hopes to stop accepting tips at the rest of his eateries by the end of next year.
Diners will expect to see increased prices on the menu. For example, lobster sausage, previously priced at $33, will now cost $44. However, customers in actuality won't be paying any more than before, because they no longer will be paying an additional tip. (The menus at The Modern have already been updated with the note: "The Modern is a non-tipping restaurant. Hospitality Included.")
Tipping has always been a hot button issue in the industry, but lately, the tide seems to have shifted towards being tip-free. Joe Crab Shack, a national chain, recently began testing no tipping at 18 of their restaurants. Others that have adopted the gratuity-free policy include, Per Se in New York City, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Bar Marco in Pittsburgh, and Alinea in Chicago.
The practice has also been picking up in pace due to the growing demands of restaurant workers, especially, back-of-house staff. By dropping tipping, wages potentially will be more evened out across all employees.
Meyer stated in an interview: "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."