To Tip or Not to Tip: Changing Trends in the Food Industry

Are the days of leaving a 20% tip over? It’s possible. Many restaurants are experimenting with a hospitality-included menu. But phasing out the tipping habit is complicated, and many waitstaff would rather work for tips than a set wage. In the food service industry, fast cash is like a Michelin star. Waiters and waitresses don’t want to wait for a paycheck. They want to take their cash home at the end of the night.


We live in a tipping culture. From ice cream shops to coffee houses, everywhere you go there’s a tip jar on the counter. At Christmas, we tip the postman and the newspaper boy, and then we turn around and expect our boss to give us a bonus, which is just the fancy, corporate way of saying tip. The practice of tipping is embedded in our national psyche; it’s as American as baseball and apple pie. So is a hospitality-included menu the business model of the future, an offshoot, say, of Uber’s all-inclusive approach to pricing, or is it just a well-meaning experiment that’s bound to fail?


Danny Meyer, the restaurateur responsible for Manhattan’s Union Square Café and the Shake Shack burger chain, began eliminating tipping 18 months ago. According to Meyer, eliminating gratuities addresses the wage disparities between kitchen staff and servers. On the other hand, chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin says that most employees prefer the tipping system. In addition, in order for many restaurants to eliminate tipping, food prices need to be raised or wages cut. In the end, phasing out tipping can adversely affect customers as well as waitstaff.


The economy is changing. It’s important for the food industry to think outside the box. However, is eliminating tipping really the way to go? Let’s face it. America is a tipping nation, and giving a tip is an essential part of the dining experience.