Here's Why the No-Tipping Restaurant Movement Might Be Fizzling Out

Restaurants have been struggling to implement the new policy.

Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Boxers or briefs? Pancakes or waffles? There are some subjects people just have a hard time seeing eye to eye on. (Smooth, briefs, and waffles, by the way.)

And one of the biggest debate subjects, at least within the circle of food industry employees, is the tipping vs. no-tipping standoff. We’ve written about it before, but for those unfamiliar with the no-tip restaurant concept, allow us to catch you up:

Over the last few years many chefs and restaurateurs, including Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio and esteemed New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer (of Shake Shack fame), have adopted a “no-tipping” policy within some of their restaurants. By raising the price of menu items somewhere between 20 to 30 percent, these owners were able to pay their employees a much better wage, while also eliminating the need for customers to spend the end of each meal realizing how rusty they are at math as they attempt to calculate 18 percent of a bill.

The idea behind the move is that it provided stability for workers and promised them a fair wage, removed hassle for patrons, and, most importantly, raised the average pay of all the workers in the restaurant, including chefs and others relegated to the back of the house. Smart, right?

Well…maybe.

After a few years of experimentation, it seems that no-tip policies may have lost some of their shine. In a recent article, the New York Post wrote about the potential death of the no-tipping policy, citing the struggles many restaurants are now having trying to implement this strategy across the board. Many small businesses, for example, are finding that suddenly shifting their entire business model, while already operating on a shoestring budget, is incredibly difficult.

But even larger, more established restaurants are feeling the pressure to return to their old tipping ways. Popular Italian restaurant I Trulli in NYC's Flatiron District said goodbye to tipping, only to have it return six months later after regular customers complained about the new policy.

Looks pretty from in here....Come join us in our beautiful garden for lunch

A post shared by I Trulli NYC (@itrullinyc) on

Tom Colicchio took similar action, reverting his restaurant, Craft, back to standard tipping after experimenting with a no-tipping lunch policy for six months. As the Post reports, Colicchio found that while young people were more open to no-tipping, older customers weren’t ready to make the adjustment, and preferred tipping based on quality of service.

So, while some restaurants may have found ways to embrace no-tipping policies, it would appear that, at least for now, the scales are tipping in favor of gratuity.

Better keep your tip-calculator app installed.

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