Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group announced today that it was banning tipping at its restaurants, which include The Modern, Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Untitled.
"There are countless laws and regulations that determine which positions in a restaurant may, and may not share in gratuities," Meyer wrote in a letter posted on company's website. "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. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues — our cooks, reservationists, and dishwashers to name a few — aren’t able to share in our guests’ generosity, even though their contributions are just as vital to the outcome of your experience at one of our restaurants."
The company is starting the new policy at The Modern, located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, in late November. The tipping ban will go into effect at the other 12 restaurants by the end of next year.
"Once these changes are implemented, the total cost you pay to dine with us won’t differ much from what you pay now," Meyer wrote. "But for our teams, the change will be significant. We will now have the ability to compensate all of our employees equitably, competitively, and professionally. And by eliminating tipping, our employees who want to grow financially and professionally will be able to earn those opportunities based on the merit of their work."
An organization that represents 18,000 restaurant workers in more than 30 U.S. cities applauded the announcement.
Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), said today's announcement "to end tipping, raise wages for both kitchen and dining-room employees, and increase career-advancement opportunities for the company’s 1,800 employees sets a powerful example for New York restaurants and beyond," noting that the Union Square Hospitality Group is a member of ROC's employer association.
"In fact, eliminating the two-tiered wage system is essential to ensuring a fair and just future for the nation’s 11 million restaurant workers," Jayaraman said in a statement.