I'll Bite

What do you think about the end of tipping?

Are you ready to be done with dinnertime math?
Are you ready to be done with dinnertime math?

When you see this line pop up in your inbox, it tends to get your attention:

“A Letter From Danny Meyer.”

Meyer, of course, is the leader of all leaders in the restaurant industry. Even if you’ve never eaten at one of his New York restaurants, from the old Union Square Cafe to The Modern to Shake Shack, you’ve been influenced by him. He’s smart, savvy and an expert on service, what the restaurant industry calls “front of the house.”

(A quick Danny Meyer story: For 15 years, I’ve traveled to New York several times a year to do volunteer work for the James Beard Foundation, and I find ways to mine those trips for stories back in Charlotte. One year, I did a story, “Bright Lights, Pig City,” on how New York restaurants interpret N.C. barbecue. Meyers’ barbecue restaurant Blue Smoke had just opened, so I included it. The smoky pulled pork was solid, but like most New York restaurants, the cole slaw was wrong. They treated it like a side dish in New York – coarse, large pieces – instead of the finely minced condiment it is here. A year later, I was at The Modern, at the Museum of Modern Art, with a group of New York editors who were far better known than me. Meyer stopped by our table to say hello and I was introduced. Without missing a beat, he smiled at me and said, “Thank you so much for your advice on the cole slaw – you were right.” That, folks, is the consumate front-of-the-house guy.)

So, what Meyer has taken on is nothing short of earth-shaking in the restaurant industry: He’s ending tipping at his restaurants. He wants to raise prices slightly, and in exchange, pay both the kitchen staff and the service staff in a way that is fair to all.

You can read more details about that here. But it also makes me want to know how that would play here in Charlotte. Servers, customers, chefs: What do you think about that idea? Drop me a line at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com, or add your comments below.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis

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