Should Restaurants Abolish Tipping?

Some of the most heated arguments I've ever gotten into have been over the appropriate way to tip waitstaff. Based on the comments on posts like this one, it's a topic that a lot of people feel similarly passionate about it. So what if restaurants did away with tipping altogether?

Riki Restaurant, a Manhattan Japanese dining establishment, has done just that — instead opting to up their food prices to cover the cost of living wages for their servers. It's a trend that, while not exactly catching on, is becoming slightly more commonplace.

From Raw Story:

The no-tip policy is especially being adopted by upscale restaurants, said Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. Folding tips into the meal tab protects waiters from being shortchanged by the occasional tight-fisted diner, said Lynn, who specializes in issues related to marketing and consumer behavior.

It's seen as an issue of equity, as restaurants attempt "to equalize the pay between the front and the back of the house," he said.

Lynn also adds that while many diners might experience initial sticker shock at these restaurants' new prices, they will ultimately paying the same amount.

"American customers tend to not think of the tip as an expense, and they don't really factor that into their assessment of how expensive a restaurant is," he points out. "It makes a restaurant look more expensive than a restaurant that has 15 percent lower prices, but expects tips."

Personally, I think Riki Restaurant's concept is a great one — mostly because I'm tired of stressing out over whether or not I'm going to have to shell in extra bucks because the company I'm with decides to tip poorly.

Seems like it would be an equal comfort to the waitstaff themselves, who will finally have an income that's not based entirely on the whims of their customers. As someone who waited tables for years, I can tell you that the difference between a 15-20% tip often has very little to do with service and almost everything to do with the person who's being served. (There are exceptions, of course, and I'm sure you'll tell me all about them.)

The chances of this no tipping trend catching on seems slim — there's not a lot of motivation for restaurants to pay their servers a decent wage when the law allows them to pay them $3/hour instead — but that doesn't mean it's not an interesting concept.

For now, the old adage still applies: Can't afford to tip, can't afford to go out to eat.

Image via Shutterstock.