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Liz Johnson, Food Editor/blogger from the LoHud.com, here in Rockland County, posted an interesting comment / question on her facebook page this morning:     What are your predictions for the resta

(The difference being that a mandatory service charge still makes the employees' daily compensation dependent on the amount of business done each day. To my mind, under capitalism, that's a risk that

Burying the lede!

Employers don't (legally) steal tips. And you can't impose a wage hike - with the commensurate increase in prices - and then expect people to tip on top of that. Of course nothing is stopping employers from giving raises right now, except for the fact that there's no shortage of people willing to work these jobs for peanuts.

It would be like Europe, leave a few coins, etc. The nontipping habit of Europeans in NYC has become an irritant...

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Interesting how so many other countries manage to pay servers a living wage while not having a comparable tipping culture. There must be some trick to it, if only we could figure it out.


and waitstaff service is considered a profession in many places. an honorable occupation on which one can raise a family

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Interesting how so many other countries manage to pay servers a living wage while not having a comparable tipping culture. There must be some trick to it, if only we could figure it out.

How much do they pay waiters in Europe? And remember, other countries also have a social safety net

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To get started, here's the first of my back and forth with Meyer's outfit

Dear Friends,
I am writing to share some important news about Union Square Hospitality Group that we want you to understand before your next visit to one of our restaurants.
Recently, our entire company has been engaged in a robust conversation about how we can provide even more meaningful career opportunities and advancement for our 1,800 employees. It has become increasingly clear to us that a major obstacle in this endeavor is the practice of tipping.
There are countless laws and regulations that determine which positions in a restaurant may, and may not share in gratuities. We believe hospitality is a team sport, and that it takes an entire team to provide you with the experiences you have come to expect from us. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues—our cooks, reservationists, and dishwashers to name a few—aren’t able to share in our guests’ generosity, even though their contributions are just as vital to the outcome of your experience at one of our restaurants.
After a thoughtful, company-wide dialogue, I’m proud to let you know that Union Square Hospitality Group will eliminate tipping throughout our family of restaurants. Starting at The Modern in late November, you will no longer find a tip line on your check, and there will be no need to leave additional cash at the table, the coat check, or the bar. Our other New York
will make this change over the course of the next year.
Once these changes are implemented, the total cost you pay to dine with us won’t differ much from what you pay now. But for our teams, the change will be significant. We will now have the ability to compensate all of our employees equitably, competitively, and professionally. And by eliminating tipping, our employees who want to grow financially and professionally will be able to earn those opportunities based on the merit of their work.
We are making a bold decision for our team and our guests, and we don’t take this lightly. We encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback at a Town Hall Meeting we're hosting for guests on November 2nd at 7:30pm in the Martha Washington Hotel. Space is limited, so please
. You can also email us your questions at
We remain more committed than ever to our promise of delivering excellent dining experiences with warm hospitality—and we hope that you will both support our team and join us on this journey.
With gratitude,


My first of several replies. More later.



In paragraph 5, line 3 what do you mean by "competitively"? Is that within the organization or compared to restaurants in general or that comprise your competition? Also this:


And by eliminating tipping, our employees who want to grow financially and professionally will be able to earn those opportunities based on the merit of their work.


Does this mean that someone will be comparing one person's work with others? Who will be doing the judging? How do we know it will be fair?

When I tip, the amount I give is often determined by the specific actions and skills of a specific person or two. Why would you want to take this away? Because it appears that a waiter or wine server won't directly be receiving tips, are you going to raise their wages?

Let;s see how all this flies on some of the food boards.


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It is my very deepseated belief that the fairness of the employee evaluations of a company in which you are not an investor is none of your business. I don't think you even have standing to ask. Not your affair.


(I mean, you're free to speculate and worry and such. But they have no obligation whatsoever to "assure" you of it. And surely you don't make such inquiries of every business you patronize.)

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Here's Mr. X's reply:


Dear Robert,


Thank you for your note! First, we aim to compensate our people competitively – by this we mean not only inside our restaurants, but inside the hospitality industry in general and other fine dining establishments in particular. We believe strongly that by taking care of our people and each other we can create better experiences for our guests.


Hospitality Included also creates an opportunity for us to professionalize the industry we love. That means promotions, advancement, and financial rewards based on merit. We already have a strong group of managers and leaders in each of our businesses that currently provide feedback to our teams daily, Hospitality Included allows our teams to better plan their individual progression and advancement, just like in so many other industries.


Finally, yes, we will be increasing compensation for our teams, both in an hourly wage as well as revenue sharing.


I hope this answers your question!



Here's my reply to that:


​Thanks for the reply, although you could have told me who you are and addressed my specific questions. Is your reply what you send to the multitudes?
On Mouthfuls I raised the question of how much are you going to raise wages; i.e. what, for example, will be the increase in the hourly wage of a waiter, busboy, commis,etc? You wrote in your mass e-mail that your clients won't see a meaningful increase in their checks. As I also posed on Mouthfuls, how do you reconcile this? To me the answer is something you probably won't go near, which is that your overwhelmingly-naive customers will have their experiences degraded in "subtle" ways that carry on the practice of chipping away, which is to say tasting menus. more sous-vide, small plates, less diner autonomy, and whatever else there is that increases the profits at the expense of the diner. Not to say that any of this is new, but that your new policy portends more of the same degradation as there seems to be no limit in the ways restaurateurs can find ways to shortchange the hands belonging to the mouths that feed them.
All the best,
Robert Brown
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Sneakeater, at Untitled they are charging a la carte prices for dishes they tell you are somewhat-smaller main courses. Offered a la carte, of course. And the beat goes on. The one trick I haven't seen in the US is the French one of offering a few tasting menus, any one of which has to be for the all the convives while at the same time offering a token number of a la carte dishes at inflated prices; i.e. two appetizers and two main courses, designed to dissuade you from ordering them. There's a la carte and there's a la carte. I'm happy to pay a lot for dish that I can choose, is well-made and doesn't stint on ingredients.


As for the evaluation reports, I didn't ask to see them. I asked the question out of compassion because I know how unfair or irrational sentiments toward a person can be used against him or her in judging job performance.

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I'd be willing to bet that waiters in the US take home more, at least in busy restaurants.


That's only the beginning of a long discussion--including, for example, cost of living and especially rent--which I certainly don't have the energy for.

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do people really care about waitstaff? since the no tipping letter was released i've heard a lot of people debating the issue but many of these are the same people who when asked where their cleaning lady or children's nanny lives, or if they are being paid enough to cover their rent answer "i don't know".

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