Surprise! Banning Tipping Doesn't Work. Could There Be Another Solution Entirely?

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Surprise! Banning Tipping Doesn't Work. Could There Be Another Solution Entirely?

Remember how restaurants have seemed to be steadily moving towards banning tipping? Yeah, not so fast on that one.

Back in November 2015, Joe's Crab Shack announced it was going to be testing out a no-tipping model at 18 select locations. Barely six months in, Joe's appears to be cutting that experiment short, dropping the number of stores participating in the program to FOUR. Reportedly, both diners and employees were unhappy with the change.

They're also not the only ones. New York restaurateur Gabe Stulman decided to go to a non-tipping model at the start of 2016 at his restaurant Fedora. He, too, has announced he's cutting the venture short -- not because of employee issues (he claims he hasn't lost a single staffer), but because customers weren't buying as much food.

There are a lot of factors at play here. The first (and this largely only applies to customers unhappy with no-tipping models, rather than employees) is an inborn human resistance to change in all its forms -- people are used to doing things a certain way, so the immediate reaction of a lot of people is going to be to shout "NO!" like a child who doesn't want a new blanket, they want the blanket they "accidentally" covered in peanut butter and set on fire. So that's part of the issue.

The other part is that maybe outright BANNING tips was a stupid move to begin with. Not because servers shouldn't make a living hourly wage; they absolutely should. But there's a middle ground between the current exploitative system and an outright tipping ban. It's almost as if there are other potential solutions to the issue some of us have been shouting about for literally years!

Paying servers a decent wage and lowering expectations of tip percentage works pretty well in a lot of other countries; why, exactly, couldn't it work here? Does tape not work when you apply it to signs that say "tipping is appreciated but not required?" And don't feed us some garbage about how restaurants couldn't survive if they had to pay servers a living wage -- there are seven states (states which run the economic and population density gamut from California to Montana) where there is no tip credit through which restaurants are legally allowed to pay servers $2.13/hour, and restaurants in those states do just fine. And despite the bullshit you may have heard, Seattle's $15 minimum wage is NOT forcing restaurants to close. Besides which, any business that stakes its survival on paying employees less than a living wage doesn't deserve to survive.

The worry here is that restaurants will see that the system we didn't think would work didn't work, and will decide there can't possibly be a solution to the problem. But just because the binary "ALL THE TIPS OR NONE OF THEM" idea was stupid doesn't mean there's nothing to be done.

[Nation's Restaurant News / Eater NY]


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