Gratuity has been a buzzword in the restaurant industry of late, with culinary icons like Tom Colicchio, Thomas Keller, and Danny Meyer either beginning to phase out tipping or ditching it altogether. But Eric Ripert, owner and executive chef at the three Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, has never been one to follow the crowd. In the past, Ripert has sung the praises of tipping policies, and he will not change his opinion now.
“I think tipping is a better idea for many reasons,” Ripert said in an interview with The Daily Meal. “The vast majority of my employees prefer tipping and therefore I will not change the policy. The tipping policy is beneficial to everyone in my opinion, including waiters, customers, and owners. Only the government benefits from no tipping.”
Ripert also has spoken to regular customers about his unchanging gratuity policy. For the most part they agree with him because it gives them some semblance of control over their bill: “They like the idea of being able to reward good waiters, or not reward bad ones.”
The French chef also condemns new restaurant policies that ditch gratuity and instead raise menu prices:
“The customer is getting the same product for 30 percent more,” he said. “How is that fair?”
Although Le Bernardin will not be changing in terms of its tipping policy, it is currently in the middle of a seasonal menu revamp. In addition, Ripert’s memoir, 32 Yolks, will be released in May with Random House.