Per Se in New York City … French Laundry in California … Alinea in Chicago.
What do these renowned restaurants have in common?
Michelin stars and eyebrow-raising menu prices, yes. But the three are now similar for another surprising reason: They are part of the growing number of establishments with strict no-tipping policies in place.
While this might seem like a radical move—have you ever come across a tip-free restaurant?—recent surveys show it might hint at something larger. In fact, some industry experts are now suggesting that gratuity might even someday be a thing of the past, MarketWatch reports.
For one, we’re generally becoming less inclined as diners to fork over an extra 20% for our meal. A new survey by vouchercloud.net found that a full 75% of Americans admit to routinely tipping less than the standard 20%, and almost half—46%—are leaving less gratuity overall than they did five years ago.
It’s not just diners who are getting fed up with the custom. As MarketWatch notes, gratuity can be a messy area for many restaurant managers and is filled with potential legal troubles when it comes to determining how the money should be divvied up among staff members. Some restaurant owners note that they’d prefer customers to devote their full attention to the meal experience—not to “grading” their server and scribbling math equations on the back of receipts.
Still, restaurants with tip-free policies are by no means problem-free. Defenders of the custom argue that there would be little incentive for staff members to offer stellar service without the potential of earning a hefty tip at the end.
And don’t get too excited: Dining at a tip-free restaurant likely doesn’t mean that your night out will be any less expensive. Establishments that have banned tipping have simply raised their menu prices to make up for it.
Whether the no-tipping trend lasts or not, make sure you’re always spending your restaurant budget smartly with these tips for saving on dining out.