The management team at Sushi Yasuda in New York City made a bold move when they banned tipping in favor of paying the wait staff a salary. This sounds like a great plan; diners don’t have to figure out a gratuity and servers are guaranteed a fixed income, regardless of how slow or busy the restaurant is. But, is this a direction that the entire industry should take?
I wasn’t sure where I stood on that question, so I reached out to MNN readers to see what they thought of Sushi Yasuda’s decision.
Andrea shared her thoughts with me on Facebook: “For me, I can see both sides ... but the biggest thing to me is that in this business a tip should reflect the QUALITY of your service, from the time you walk into an establishment to the time you walk out.”
While Andrea sees both sides of the issue, Brian is definitely not a fan, “I've never had good service when a tip was automatically added in.” So, I asked Brian if he would purposely avoid a restaurant that banned tipping and he said, “Probably. I like rewarding good service and penalizing bad service. It's not the restaurants job to decide that everyone is equal.”
Robert, who just returned from a trip to Europe, chimed in to say, “That's how they do it in Europe, 'service compre'." Rebecca, an ex-pat living in France, expanded on Robert’s feedback, “Yes Robert its 'service compris' here in France. Doesn't always get you good service but the staff are guaranteed a fixed salary to feed their families. It is also customary here to tip 1-2€ on top of it if we appreciate the service.” Although tipping isn’t the norm in Europe, it is okay to tip for good service in some instances.
Brian still wasn’t sold on the idea, “Yeah...they do it that way in Europe...I spent 3 weeks over there and not once was the service as good as what you'd get over here where there's incentive to be good.”
I can see Brian’s point – if a server knows that he is going to receive a gratuity based on his quality of service, he may be more inclined to provide exemplary service. But I don’t think it is safe to make a blanket statement that just because a U.S. restaurant bans tips that the service is going to be worse.
After the lively Facebook conversation, I turned to Twitter, where I asked if diners would be willing to pay more to visit a restaurant that bans tipping. Kara-Noel Lawson respond that she might, so I asked her if she would feel bad about not leaving a tip if she received stellar service, which is usually when I leave a larger than normal tip so that the waiter knew I was pleased with the quality of service.
@mommymellie Not if I was asked not to. It's like the valet where they aren't allowed to take tips.— Kara-Noel (@KaraNoelLawson) June 11, 2013
Good point; restaurants aren’t the only service industry that can implement a ‘no tipping’ policy, and I’ve used valet services that don’t allow tipping. I didn’t feel bad when I simply thanked the valet and gave him my keys instead of my keys and a few dollars.
I’m still torn on the issue. I like the idea of a fixed salary, but I’ve never been a server so I don’t know if that is as big of an issue that I’m making it out to be, especially at a high-end restaurant like Sushi Yasuda.
What do you think of Sushi Yasuda’s tip ban?
Related on MNN:
- Who gets the tips at Starbucks?
- Virginia sushi restaurant bans kids. So what?
- Are well-behaved children in restaurants the exception?