Should Restaurant Tipping Be Eliminated?

February 6, 2015 – In The News
The Columbia Journalist

Carolyn Richmond was quoted in The Columbia Journalist article “Should Restaurant Tipping Be Eliminated?” Full text can be found in the February 6, 2015, issue, but a synopsis is below.

The newly renovated New York restaurant, Dirt Candy, is no longer accepting tips. Instead, the bill now includes a 20 percent “administrative fee” which is distributed to all staffers, including servers and cooks.

Front-of-house staff receives a standard $5 an hour base salary, a few dollars short of the city’s minimum wage of $8.75. It’s expected that they’ll make up the rest with tips, but tip amounts can vary.

“Servers are often big gamblers,” noted Carolyn D. Richmond. “They’re hoping for that big payday, that whale.”

Richmond doesn’t expect servers to be insisting for a no-tip model anytime soon. “We have had tipping for more than 150 years in the U.S. and service workers really do hope and expect that they’ll get that big customer that tips 30 to 50 percent. It’s hard to get rid of that mentality.”

Richmond advises her clients to either build the labor costs into the menu prices or to stick with tipping. She tells them that diners often don’t understand that administrative fees aren’t tips.