Tipping was originally intended as an incentive for rewarding and encouraging servers to provide exemplary service. Unfortunately, that now seems to be the exception rather than the rule, thanks to restaurateurs who have unilaterally stripped that valuable power from their customers.
For example, one of my biggest pet peeves with respect to tipping is the “mandatory gratuity” (talk about an oxymoron) that most sit-down restaurants routinely tack onto bills for large parties.
On the other side of the spectrum, and just as irritating, are restaurants like Sushi Yasuda that institute a no-tipping policy.
In both cases, otherwise well-meaning restaurant owners have meddled with the dynamic between diners and servers, thereby disrupting an extremely reliable control mechanism that customers depend on to help minimize the risk of an unsavory dining experience.
When properly administered, tips provide accurate performance feedback to the server, which is why restaurants that implement a mandatory-gratuity or no-tipping policy — regardless of the level of service — end up doing everyone a big disservice.
Think about it. Why would any server go out of his way to give excellent service when he knows he’ll be getting the same pay regardless of whether he busts his hump or takes it relatively easy by doing just enough to meet the minimum standards?
One of Sushi Yasuda’s co-owners said that the restaurant had decided to go with a no-tipping policy because that’s how it’s done in Japan.
The trouble is, this isn’t Japan, folks; it’s America. Like it or not, when it comes to dining out, tipping is the custom here — and for good reason.
Photo Credit: Ethan Prater
(This is a repost of my op-ed piece that was published in the New York Times.)