Restaurateur Danny Meyer neglected to mention that he lost up to 40 percent of his longtime staff after adopting a no-tipping policy [“The culture of tipping is the problem,” Sunday Opinion, Feb. 25]. It’s no surprise why: When Mr. Meyer advocates “consistent and predictable wages,” he means a stagnant hourly rate that’s not maximized by your abilities or skill. Rather, it’s dictated by your employer or the federal government.
As a 32-year restaurant server, I can say that control over my earnings is one of the greatest perks of working as a tipped employee. The harder I work to show hospitality and graciousness to my guests, the better my “commission” (i.e., gratuity) on that meal. It’s not a bad bargain — I earn 20 percent or more on a typical bill, while restaurant owners typically keep 3 to 5 percent in profit.
Mr. Meyer used the example of a “slow Monday” with few customers as one reason for his no-tipping alternative. This is a red herring; all tipped employees are legally guaranteed to earn at least the minimum wage, no matter what state they live in — even if the restaurant has a slow night. More important, under the current system, these slow nights are offset by customer counts that double or triple on the weekends or holidays.
If Mr. Meyer wants to embrace the harmful no-tipping approach in his own restaurants, and suffer the accompanying loss of talented staff, that’s his right. But he shouldn’t try to ruin the full-service industry for the rest of us.
Simone Barron, Seattle
The writer is a founding board member of the Restaurant Workers of America.