Tipping will be banned at 13 celebrated New York restaurants, from the Gramercy Tavern to the Union Square Cafe, a move that will result in higher prices but also higher wages for employees. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.
Tipping is about to become a thing of the past at some of the city's top restaurants.
Owner Danny Meyer said he will be eliminating tipping at The Modern next month and at his 12 other restaurants over the next year.
Outside Meyer's Gramercy Tavern, diners were mixed on the news.
"I think the servers work hard and some people are cheap," said one person.
"I think the current system is actually better," said another. "You can judge the service for yourself and then tip accordingly to the service."
Meyer's decision, announced on his website, has the potential to upend the city's tipping culture. While some high-end restaurants have ended gratuities, no restaurant group as large or as influential as Meyer's has adopted such a policy.
The change is expected to raise menu prices more than 20 percent, with the extra money divvied up among the servers and the rest of the help, like the cooks and dishwashers, who, by law, are not allowed to share in tips.
It's expected that the move will help make employees' salaries more equitable, resulting in cooks at places like Gramercy Tavern getting a much-need pay raise.
Meyer acknowleged this in his letter, saying, "Many of our colleagues...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."
Greg Morabito, the editor of the website Eater, says Meyer was also looking ahead to new regulations that are about to kick in.
"A large part of it has to do with the fact that, you know, fast food, the fast food minimum wage is going to go up, and so for that reason, you know, if a culinary grad is going to make $15 at a fast food restaurant versus much less than that at very good restaurant, then why would they choose the good restaurant over the fast food restaurant?" Morabito said.
Other restaurants may end up following Meyer's lead, but that will all depend on whether his customers are fine with the higher prices on his menus.