To tip or not to tip? It's hard to tell these days.
Some restaurateurs in the U.S. are starting to ban tipping and raise overall menu pricing to compensate. Danny Meyer's Universal Hospitality Group announced its decision to end tipping in its restaurants this week. It's an effort to balance wage inequality in the industry — chefs and kitchen workers often bring in less because their pay is not subsidized with tips.
"It's troubled me for 21 years that the tipping system is antithetical to creating a real profession for people who takes their jobs seriously," Meyer told CNBC on Friday. "You don't tip your doctor if they do a good job. You don't tip the airline pilot if the plane lands. ... It's actually a demeaning practice."
But unless broadly embraced by restaurant companies across the $730 billion U.S. dining industry — which restaurant experts are skeptical will happen — it's likely to lead to confusion among diners.
"People won't know whether to tip or not when they go out to eat," said Aaron Allen, founder of restaurant consulting firm Aaron Allen & Associates.
Of all the restaurateurs abandoning gratuity, the most notable is Meyer, whose company owns the famed Gramercy Tavern in New York, as well as The Modern, which will be the first of his places to abandon tipping. Meyer said he is eliminating tips across the Group's restaurant portfolio to balance wages among the staff.
"We believe hospitality is a team sport, and that it takes an entire team to provide you with the experiences you have come to expect from us," he said in a statement when announcing the move on Thursday.