Will no-tipping policies gain traction at NJ restaurants?
How would you feel about paying more for a meal at a restaurant, but then not leaving a tip for your server?
Some restaurants in New York, including those owned by Danny Meyer, have already adopted this business model, which calls for servers to be paid a higher hourly wage.
Last week, Joe’s Crab Shack, which has seven locations in New Jersey, announced a new wage model which involves raising the wages of servers and in exchange, telling customers they're no longer expected to leave a tip following their meal.
Kelli Kennel, a spokeswoman for Ignite Restaurant Group, the parent company of Joe’s Crab Shack, declined to be interviewed, but said in a written statement the no tipping policy is being tested in 18 restaurants around the country, and the results of this test program are still being measured. As of now, there is no timetable for a rollout in New Jersey.
Some in New Jersey have mixed feelings about the idea.
“It does not work for every business model. IIt might be a good idea, but in other situations, in other business models, it’s not going to work,” said Marilou Halvorsen, president of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association.
Halvorsen pointed out some servers like the idea because they could wind up making more money, but for waiters and waitresses in high-end restaurants, they could wind up taking a financial hit.
“Not everyone is happy about this idea.” Halvorsen said. “There’s a lot of unintended consequences to changing this business model, and also for the consumer.”
For consumers, it takes the tipping decision out of their hands.
"It takes control away from the consumer. I know I would be quite uncomfortable walking away from a table without leaving a tip because it’s just what we’re so used to doing in this country,” Halvorsen said, who added that some consumers want the ability to reward good service or not reward bad service.
So will this catch on in Jersey?
“I think this will be left up to the consumer,” Halvorsen said. " I think this will be driven by what they want to do and what they’re comfortable doing.”
Halvorsen said some customers might choose not to pay the higher menu prices and go to places that still allow tipping.
“I don’t think there’s a right or wrong in this, it’ll just be how each restaurant feels about what’s best for their own business model," Halvorsen said.
If the restaurants that dump tipping find it to be a successful business model, more restaurants might follow suit.
"It’s going to be interesting to track and see how those restaurants that do implement it will do. If it does work out well, others will follow suit, but if it doesn’t work out, restaurants will abandon the idea. Sometimes an idealistic change does not turn out very well in reality,” Halvorsen said.