This morning’s newscast put forth an interesting dilemma. A well known sushi restaurant in Manhattan has decided to charge extra to their menu prices and asked patrons not to tip the wait staff. Their reasoning is that is how it is done in Japan and it works well there so it should work here as well. Perhaps, but the cultural differences may become a flaw in that argument.
Traditionally, a tip, (financial gratuity for a good job) at least in America, was left for the waiter/waitress in all restaurants. The amount was usually 10-15% of the bill for the meal. The better the service the better the tip. There are those who left little or no tip, but others would leave even a larger amount just because. Most wait staff work for less than minimum wage so the tips are supposed to offset the difference. A really good waiter/waitress can make an exceptional living by giving great service and being personable to the customers. The idea being that the better the job you do, the better you get paid. It encourages a person to work hard to gain financial reward. A great way to run a business of any kind, reward for hard work; the American Dream. If you don’t work hard to make your customers happy, they will not leave a good tip, or in any business, you get fired or the business closes down.
So if this restaurant does not allow tipping but just adds the cost of paying its wait staff onto the cost of the menu items, will service fall off? I have noticed in many restaurants, they are charging a gratuity onto the bill, usually 15-18%. I have also notice the service suffers. However, if I get exceptional service I will leave an additional tip over and above the already added gratuity. My concern with the restaurant charging a gratuity is who actually gets that money: the waiter/waitress or the restaurant management? This as well as pooling of tips leads to the poor waiter/waitress getting the same reward as the exceptional waiter/waitress. So what is the incentive to work hard? None and it only leaves me looking for a different restaurant so in the end it hurts the business.
I know the culture of Japanese people to be a lot different than America. America was founded on the idea of the dream that if you work really hard to can better yourself; both your station in life as well as financially. This is one thing that makes us truly American. There are those who would take the socialist route, equal pay regardless of the amount or quality of work, or equal pay for no work. The management of this restaurant seems to be promoting this. Indeed, it is a prevailing mentality within America. It is some within America attempting to change our culture.
I like Japanese people. I love Japanese food, especially sushi. I tip the maker of my sushi at the sushi bar extremely well because he does a great job. I have even learned a few words in Japanese so I can tell him how much I like the food and his work. He does special things like make favorites not on the menu just for me. And why does he do that? Because he is an exceptional waiter and I am a big tipper!!!