One of New York City’s leading restaurateurs is seeking to set a standard for the restaurant industry by fairly compensating all employees and improving the dining experience across the board — and banning the tip.
Beginning in late November, restaurants in Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group will begin rolling out a new policy called “Hospitality Included,” in which diners are forbidden from leaving tips on credit cards and strongly discouraged from leaving cash tips. The policy will be accompanied by an across the board increase in menu prices—of as much as 35 percent—which, Meyer tells Eater New York, will more accurately reflect the true cost of fine dining.
The move will affect some of the most iconic restaurants in New York, including The Modern, the two-Michelin star restaurant inside the Museum of Modern Art, and 12 other full-service establishments in the restaurant group, including Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, and Porchlight.
Although tipping waitstaff has become standard across the U.S, tipping is not customary across much of the rest of the world and in some cases is even frowned upon, seen as undermining the dignity of working for a steady wage. When the Anarchists took control of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, one of their first acts was to ban tipping as a way of imposing their brand of revolutionary equality on the city.
Meyer, who was named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people this spring, is also hoping for a revolution of sorts. By banning tipping and raising prices, he says he’ll be able to fairly compensate all employees who contribute to the dining experience, from the dishwasher to the host. Tipping, he says, ends in underpaid cooks, which has contributed to a shortage in good kitchen staff in a high cost of living city like New York, he said.
It’s not the first time Meyer has moved to ban tipping—he tried a similar scheme in 1994, but he hopes the public and wait staff both are ready for it now. “We think that the more of our restaurants we do this with, the safer it will be for all of them,” Meyer said. “And we think the more of the restaurants we change over, the more courage, hopefully, that will create for other restaurants to join in, which would then turn this into a virtuous cycle.”