30 Chefs Open Up About Tipping, Gen Z Cooks and You the Customer

So much to unpack in this (should be a gift link):


Eric Huang: “Nobody likes tipping. It sucks. It’s a stupid practice.”

I couldn’t agree more, especially after spending 2 weeks in Vietnam recently. I miss my $1.40 Banh Mi at Hoi An that Anthony Bourdain went to.


I don’t know if that’s truefor American consumers.

Would a large swath of people be willing to pay 20% more for food if we did away with the tipping system? I suspect ppl would dine out way less frequently and complain about pricing even more.

Also super depressing article really illustrates how hard running a small restaurant is. It seems like based on this article and economic trends, good dining will be reserved for the privileged and lower levels of food will continuously become commoditized.


In some ways the diner/consumer - restaurant relationship masquerades as friendly but is adversarial. That’s almost explicit subtext from this article. Maybe that’s obvious to most idk.

And to your point @hungryhungryhippos, there’ll be no middle. Like fashion, like housing, like a lot of things in our society.

Also left unsaid is how much previous iterations of the industry - pre covid pricing and service for example - were predicated on both restaurants and consumers benefitting from undocumented folks working below minimum wage off the books.


IMO one of the few paths where it’s possible is if legislation or some other factor forces all restaurants in an area to do away with tipping. Danny Meyer tried a service inclusive model in NYC and Pasjoli did as well when they opened and could not make it work and shift the industry on their own. The psychology of pricing is just not favorable when some people are including service in the price and some aren’t. If everyone had to include it into pricing, people would adjust, even if we complained about it. Just look at pricing in our current high inflation present. People complain about gas prices and higher menu prices, but they don’t stop buying. Restaurants are more sensitive to reduction in demand, though, so I think it only works if almost all full service restaurants in an area transition at once. Otherwise it’s the classic prisoner’s dilemma outcome :smiley:


I think that is the crux of so many problems currently. ::sigh::


I’d guess you’re right, but there’s the possibility that people, at least some subset, replace restaurant meals with eating at home, fast/fast casual etc. And while obsessives like us view restaurants as entertainment - food is the new rock or whatever - there’s fear people will replace entertainment spending at restaurants with entertainment spending deemed a better value, whether bars, concerts/live events, dinner parties etc.

1 Like

I agree, I think substituting for other entertainment or experiences would definitely happen and would likely result in a reduction in business for restaurants that could push places out of business. However the difference that at least gives it a chance to be viable is that if every sit down restaurant has to do it, you can’t substitute for a similar dining experience for less perceived cost. You need to pick something else which is a bigger barrier. Over time, people would adapt though, and I expect would start coming back because the total cost isn’t actually going up, just the perceived up-front cost. In contrast to a single restaurant group that implements a service included model, if people don’t want to adjust their expectations it’s really easy to go to another restaurant down the street that doesn’t give you sticker shock. I was really hopeful that Danny Meyer could prove it would work in the US, but it seems too hard for even a highly successful restauranteur to drive that kind of change alone. :frowning:

1 Like