Until very recently, leaving a tip was something you had to do after basically every meal. You’d eat, you’d pay, you’d attempt to do some math to figure how much you should add, maybe tacking on a little bit extra for good service or subtracting a little for poor. Any way you sliced it, however, tipping was just a part of life. Well, not any more. Restaurants all across the country are doing away with tipping for a variety of reasons, and we’ve tracked down 11 of them to find out why.
When we talk “banning tipping,” there are a two different possible approaches. Some places do away with tipping altogether, presumably, boosting the price of food to make up for the lost revenue and paying staff a full salary. Others add an automatic service charge onto every tab, or, for that small but increasing number of restaurants that operates under a "ticket" rather than a reservation system, include a tip in the total price. Either way, at the end of the meal, the diner doesn't have to worry about tipping, and believe it or not, just about everyone goes home happy.
There are plenty of reasons why a restaurant would decide to do away with tips. Most people don’t tip well enough for servers to earn a living wage, tipping is subjective and occasionally discriminatory (attractive blonde women have been found to make the highest tips), tipping encourages competition among employees, and in the case of Japanese restaurants, tipping isn’t aligned with Japanese customs.
For whatever reasons, more and more restaurateurs are doing away with tipping, or are at least expressing their support of the practice. Tom Colicchio, for example, recently told us that he would like to abolish tipping at his restaurants, but that “no [celebrity chef] wants to be the first to do it. It’s hard to be the first one to get out there, because customers still like to think they are in control of what their server makes,” he said. “But five years from now, I’d be surprised if tipping hadn’t practically disappeared altogether,” he added.
If that’s true, these 11 restaurants are at the vanguard of a full-fledged revolution.
Achatz’s legendary avant-garde Chicago restaurant requires that customers pay for their meals when making their reservation — which you might also call buying a ticket — and that fee includes the price of the tasting menu with tax and a 20-percent tip.
Bar Agricole, San Francisco
One of just a handful of Bay Area restaurants that don’t accept tips, Bar Agricole raised their menu prices by 20 percent in order to do away with tipping and pay their employees a living wage.