Respected US restaurateur Danny Meyer is to abolish tipping at all 13 of the restaurants in his Union Square Hospitality Group.
Meyer announced the changes, which are expected to affect almost 1,800 employees, earlier this week.
The move comes amid an ongoing debate about tipping in the US, where front of house staff can earn significant sums thanks to contributions from diners.
But Meyer said the disparity between what front of house staff can earn and what kitchen staff take home has caused problems for staff retention back of house.
“The gap between what the kitchen and dining room workers make has grown by leaps and bounds,” Meyer said. During his 30 years in the business, he said, “kitchen income has gone up no more than 25%. Meanwhile, dining room pay has gone up 200%.”
Instead of allowing tipping, the restaurant will factor into its menu prices the cost of an hourly wage for servers.
Menus will explain that prices include “hospitality”, according to the New York Times. Bills will not include blank lines for a tip. “There will be one total, as if you were buying a sweater at Brooks Brothers,” Meyer said.
The Modern restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art will be the first restaurant to effect the changes. The average hourly wage for kitchen employees at the restaurant is expected to rise to $15.25 from $11.75 as a result of the move.
Meyer said that restaurants such as his needed to stay competitive as the state of New York moved to a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers.