Are we near the end of restaurant tipping?

A recent move by Sushi Yasuda, a high-end Japanese eatery in New York, to prohibit customers from leaving gratuities — the restaurant raised menu prices by roughly 15% to cover waitstaff salaries — is prompting discussion about whether the no-tip movement could reach, well, a tipping point.

And it is a definite movement: Such renowned restaurants as Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York and French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.; Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif.; and Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago have similar policies in place. So did the recently closed Linkery restaurant in San Diego, where owner Jay Porter found that service improved because of the policy, despite widespread beliefs that the tradition of tipping fosters a culture of accountability.

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Porter’s argument? Having a reliable income is empowering. “If you don’t have to think about money, you can focus on doing your job well,” he wrote earlier this month.


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