The Starkside

More Thoughts on Tipping

I’m not clear why you and I are asked to subsidize sub-minimum wages for servers through tipping. The jobs they perform are every bit as essential to restaurant operations as those of cooks and dishwashers. Actually, the idea of increasing servers’ wages is catching on and there are now about a dozen restaurants in the country that have adopted the policy of forbidding tipping.

I thought you might be interested in an example. According to Gene Johnson of the Associated Press, the management of Ivar’s Salmon House on Seattle’s Lake Union decided to institute the city’s $15 minimum wage two years ahead of schedule. When they did this, they raised menu prices 21 percent, shared the added revenue among the hourly staff, and told customers they no longer needed to tip. The result? Owner Bob Donegan stated, “Revenue has soared, supportive customers are leaving additional tips even though they don’t need to, and servers and bartenders are on pace to increase their annual pay by thousands…”

If you read the opinion I expressed in my first blog post, you won’t be surprised to learn that I hope this becomes a national trend. How would you feel about food prices going up as tipping is eliminated? I’ll bet some readers would prefer to have lower food prices and retain the option of tipping.

Henry Stark has been a food and wine columnist, writer, and restaurant reviewer for the Ithaca Journal, the Ithaca Times, and The Good Life magazine. A teacher, advocate, and enthusiast, Henry shares his always well-considered—sometimes contrarian—views in inimitable style, opening the door to a robust conversation with fellow members.
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