tipping in restaurants

More and more restaurants are adopting no-tip policies in order to even out the pay unfairness between tipped and untipped employees, such as cooks and front of the house hosts.(Courtesy of Kody Gautier/Unsplash)

We’ve all sat around a table at a restaurant, trying to decide how much of a tip to leave for the waiter or waitress. If it was a delicious meal with spectacular service, you’d think that would constitute for a generous tip, right? Maybe not.

More and more restaurants are adopting no-tip policies in order to even out the pay inequality between tipped and untipped employees such as cooks and front-of-the-house hosts. While this is an issue that definitely needs to be addressed, getting rid of tips altogether is not the best way to solve the problem.

The idea of a no-tip policy is that restaurants would raise their menu prices by 15 to 20 percent, depending on the amount their customers usually tip, and divide the extra earnings more fairly among employees.

While companies like Shake Shack and Union Square Hospitality Group have had great success with the no-tip policy, other restaurants quickly decided to keep tipping as usual when customers and servers vehemently rejected the change.

Servers who were initially hired in restaurants with traditional tipping methods began to search for other jobs when their employers announced that the no-tipping policy would be the new way to go. Unsurprisingly, customers were also disappointed with the switch.

Diners who are met with exceptional service often wish to show their gratitude, which they should be allowed to do on their own terms. On the contrary, if a server is rude to a customer  and service is inexplicably slow, the customer should not have an obligation to leave a 20 percent tip if it is not deserved.

Higher menu prices turn regulars off of their favorite restaurants. Meals that have always cost one price and then suddenly increase by 20 percent are not worth it to an average or low tipper. If the new price exceeds the tip amount that a customer would normally leave, they will probably take their business elsewhere.

Servers normally make minimum wage and depend on tips for more than half of their earnings. Hourly tips account for an average of 58.5 percent of servers’ earnings and 54 percent of bartenders’ earnings.

College students who work in the industry rely on tips to help them pay their way through school. A minimum wage job does little to provide money for rent, tuition and living expenses, and tips are an immense help for covering all of that.

However, the no-tipping movement is happening for a reason. It is unfair for cooks to not receive any tips when they are providing the food, and restaurants are trying to resolve that issue.

But cooks also tend to have higher hourly wages than wait staff, and some restaurants have started giving raises to untipped employees if income disparity is high.

The pros of tipping in restaurants outweigh the cons. Customers are able to show their appreciation, servers can pay the bills and cooks could receive raises in the end anyway. Hosts at the front of the house end up taking the biggest hit in this scenario, but those positions are still able to receive tips if the customer chooses to give them extra cash.

Maybe it’s old-fashioned, but nothing says thank you like a few extra dollars on the table as a reward for hard work: compliments to the chef and 20 percent to the one who brought it to the table.

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