As part of a growing trend, a new restaurant in Grand Rapids, Mich. will have a no-tipping policy when it opens next spring. According to MLive, Paul Lee — the restaurateur behind popular local restaurants like Donkey Taqueria and The Winchester — is opening a fried chicken restaurant, and it will be the first one in the city to not allow tipping. Lee instead will offer all of his employees — front- and back-of-house — higher wages. To cover the salary bump, Lee plans to raise prices on the menu. There will be no line for tips on credit card receipts, and cash tips will not be accepted.
Lee explains the decision to the news site: "Everybody's role from the front to the back of the house is important and the current wages don't reflect that." He adds that he is also motivated by the "service industry labor shortage" in Michigan. Lee believes that low wages simply make it harder to fill jobs. "If everyone is having trouble finding people, how can we all come together and groom people from the inside?" asks Lee. "We are interested in creating and maintaining a restaurant 'farm system,' like in sports, where we find people, even those with little experience but high motivation, and train them."
Lee says that his goal is to "pay all of his employees a living wage and train them in all aspects of a restaurant." He plans to to implement the system at his other restaurants if it proves to be successful.
The no-tipping trend is catching on across the country. Major New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer revealed last week that he is getting rid of tipping at all of his restaurants. Like Lee, Meyer also plans to increase the hourly wages of his employees and raise menu prices. Meyer will give employees revenue shares in the restaurant as well. Haymarket Cafe, a restaurant in Northampton, Mass., recently revealed that it plans to eliminate tipping, too. Instead, owner Peter Simpson will raise the starting wages of his employees to $14 per hour, a figure that will increase $1 per year for the next three years.
Video: The Argument Against Tipping, Explained