The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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4  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2015 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR IN CHIEF A Tip The announcement that Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group is eliminating tipping at The Modern, with the group's other twelve restaurants soon to fol- low, is a seminal moment for the U.S. dining industry. This move by such an important and influential player would indicate that a major revision of the entire domestic tip- ping procedure may be imminent. As his main reason for this move, Meyer cites the basic inequality between the compensation received by waitstaff versus the pay of kitchen help, from cooks to dishwashers. But it may be a harbinger of an impend- ing sea change in the entire structure of the restaurant experience. Originally the idea of a tip was conceived as a reward for service well done, but do people withhold tips for bad service? Not really. Most people tip 15% to 25% no matter what—whether out of habit or out of fear. Meyer plans to add 21% to his customers' checks, which is the average that most people tip these days. I am definitely in favor of this forward-thinking and logical move. Restaurant workers across the spectrum should be fairly compensated for their labor and this is a step in the direction of making that a reality. But, speaking as a frequent restaurant-goer, I have a major caveat. The other night I went to a place that has adopted the no-tipping policy. By the time the check came we had consumed a significant amount of wine and food. Without paying too much attention, I added a 20% tip to the total and handed the bill back to the server. I then realized that the amount seemed high so I looked at my copy of the bill and saw, at the bottom in small print, "18% added for service." I had essentially tipped more than 40%. I asked for my signed check back and, after much hemming, hawing and scuffling, I got it back and removed the extra tip. I think it's only fair, in the early moments of this tipping changeover, that the server verbally inform the customer of the fact that the tip has already been added. Otherwise, even though it may be an innocent omission, it looks like it might be an attempt to scam the diner. —Anthony Dias Blue

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