A Tipless Restaurant

Jay Porter, owner of the Linkery restaurant in San Diego, details his decision to disallow tipping in favor of a flat service charge. Porter’s results show promise and he addresses concerns with his policy:

I can hear your objection now: How could servers be motivated to do a good job without tips?

This is a common question, but it is also a silly question. Servers are motivated to do a good job in the same ways that everyone else is. Servers want to keep their jobs; servers want to get a raise; servers want to be successful and see themselves as professionals and take pride in their work. In any workplace, everyone is required to perform well, and tips have nothing to do with it. The next time you see your doctor, ask her if she wouldn’t do better-quality work if she made minimum wage, with the rest of her income from her patients’ tips. I suspect the answer will be a version of “no.”

Earlier this year I argued for this very system:

Instead of simply adding a service line-item on bills, employers leave it to confused, math-challenged, and often immature customers to decide the service fee. Not only does that eliminate fairness, it leaves employees susceptible to the sexual and racial judgements of their customers. In short, it’s 2013 - tipping as currently constructed is dumb.

It seems, at least in Porter’s anecdotal evidence, that such a system can work. I hope more restaurants switch to a similar model.