Who wants to get rid of tipping now? Martha Cheng of Honolulu Magazine, and also California restaurateur Jay Porter. Porter actually abolished the practice of tipping at his now-shuttered restaurant the Linkery — instead adding an automatic 18% service fee to all bills — and he writes on Quartz "our service improved, our revenue went up, and both our business and our employees made more money."
Porter keeps a blog detailing his case against tipping, where blog posts are titled things like "Why Tipping Should (And May) Be Made Illegal" and "Sex, Power and Tips." His basic point is that the amount of a tip doesn't necessarily go up with the quality of service, and "tipped servers, in turn, learn that service quality isn't particularly important to their revenue." Porter says the Linkery closed because he moved to San Francisco, where health care surcharges are already added to restaurant bills. What would patrons there think of additional mandatory service charges?
Cheng's argument against tipping has more to do with food. With servers making more money than cooks on average, what incentive is there for cooks to stay in the kitchen? She talked to Kevin Hanney of Honolulu's 12th Ave Grill, who estimates his servers make an average of $35 per hour while his more experienced line cooks make $15. "This is not New York or San Francisco or Los Angeles, where passionate cooks beg to work in kitchens," Cheng writes. By her estimate, abolishing tipping and therefor leveling the disparity between front-of-house and back-of-house dishes, the overall quality of the food might improve.
Porter and Cheng are not the first to call for an overhaul of America's tipping system. Some higher end restaurants — like Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas' Chicago restaurants or, more recently, Trois Mec in Los Angeles — have turned to ticketing systems to do away with the problem. New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer has said he proposed banning tipping to his servers, who vetoed the concept. More and more, restaurateurs are at least floating the idea of ending the tips system, but is America ready for a brave new tip-free future? Especially if it's one that involves service fees?