A recent move by Sushi Yasuda, a high-end Japanese restaurant in New York, to ban tipping has prompted another round of discussion about whether tipping should be eliminated at restaurants and elsewhere.
Other restaurants prohibiting tipping include Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York, French Laundry in Yountville, CA, Alice Waters' Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, and Grant Achatz's Alinea in Chicago.
One reason given for prohibiting tipping is that it ends diners' chore over "grading" a server with each meal, the accompanying anxiety about under or over tipping, and then the math itself. Sushi Yasuda owner Scott Rosenberg, told Marketwatch, "The meal should be there for you to enjoy without doing this calculus."
The restaurant raised menu prices by roughly 15 percent to cover the servers' lost tips. Many other restaurants are adding a service fee of 17 or 18 percent to each bill.
Ending tipping is also expected to lead to fairer pay, with front workers (servers) estimated to be paid two to four times as much as the cooks and other support staff. It would also help reduce improprieties at restaurants where servers share tips.
Finally, some believe service would improve. According to a study from Cornell University, customers generally pay the same amount of tip regardless of the experience, removing the incentive for servers to work hard for an extra tip.
In a recent article penned for Slate, Jay Porter, owner of the Linkery farm-to-table restaurant in San Diego that recently closed, said that he initially eliminated tips at his restaurant to support better pay for his cooks. But he found the food improved "probably because our cooks were being paid more and didn't feel taken for granted," and servers' overall pay increased as well as the restaurant did better.
Also, Mr. Porter believes servers benefit from a more reliable stream of income instead of being "constantly distracted by compensation issues." Like almost all other jobs, motivation should come from a desire to keep that job, earn a raise, be successful and taking pride in your work.
"If you don't have to think about money, you can focus on doing your job well," he wrote.
Overall, do you see tipping as a positive or negative part of the overall dining experience?