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'No Tip' Policy Attracts Flood of Applicants to Danny Meyer's Restaurant

By Savannah Cox | November 3, 2015 4:53pm
 Danny Meyer's
Danny Meyer's "no tip" policy has brought the restaurateur a wealth of high-quality cook applications at one of his restaurants.
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Ellen Silverman

"Pay more and they will come."

That seems to be what happened after restaurateur Danny Meyer announced in October that he would implement a universal "no tip" policy at his restaurants.

Two to three chefs, workers and non-waitstaff have applied to the restaurant each day since the Modern, the restaurant where the Union Square Hospitality Group CEO, announced that it will debut its no-tip policy starting on Nov. 19, Eater reported Tuesday.

The recent wave of applications comes after the upscale Midtown establishment found itself in the throes of a kitchen crisis: three months ago the kitchen was down 12 employees in a space that needs 45, Eater reported.

Since the group's October announcement, USHG chief restaurant officer Sabato Sagaria said that the Modern had received a wealth of applications from high-quality cooks. Meyer "wants to hire every one of them," Eater wrote.

Sagaria told Eater that the applicants who aren't selected to work at the Modern will be placed in one of USGH's other restaurants.

In lieu of tipping, USHG plans to implement a "Hospitality Included" program at all 13 of their restaurants, in which cooks start at $14 per hour — around double the national minimum wage of $7.25.

Meyer's move marks a major shift in American restaurant group policies, but it was a long time coming.

Eater reported that in 1994, Meyer penned in a restaurant newsletter that "the American system of tipping is awkward for all parties involved" and that "because our country has a longstanding tradition where a server's income is determined by guests tips ... we are at a disadvantage when it comes to recognizing and promoting outstanding service."

The policy shift does come with price increases — Sagaria said that menu prices could rise up to 28 percent — and mixed reviews, as a recent Quinnipiac poll revealed that a majority of those surveyed opposed Meyer's plan.

Meyer wasn't swayed by the survey results, equating tipping with smoking in restaurants, the New York Post reported.

"Tipping has been a longstanding American custom in restaurants, and so was smoking until New York City got rid of it," Meyer said.