If you think a restaurant no-tipping policy is a lousy idea that won't catch on, you might want to consider the man championing it. Danny Meyer, the restaurateur who's shaking up the restaurant business by eliminating tipping at his establishments says he might be ahead of his time, just as when he banned smoking at New York's Union Square Cafe 12 years before it became the law. Anderson Cooper profiles Meyer, who is also the founder of billion-dollar global burger chain Shake Shack, on the next edition of 60 Minutes Sunday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Meyer has been an innovator in dining out since opening his first location, the Union Square Cafe in New York City, in 1985. His ideas in food, service and hospitality have become trends and won his restaurants and chefs many culinary awards. The no-tipping policy is aimed at the pay inequities between front-of-the-house employees like waiters and bartenders and the back of the house staff like chefs, cooks and dishwashers.
Meyer says he's found that the front of the house staff sometimes makes 300 percent more than the kitchen staff. So he has increased the base pay of servers and kitchen staff to balance things out and increased menu prices by nearly 25 percent to compensate. He eschews the "no-tipping" phrase. He calls it "hospitality included." "It's basically saying, 'You see that price that it costs to get the chicken? That includes everything. That includes not only the guy that bought the chicken and the guy that cooked the chicken, but it also includes the person who served it to you and how they made you feel.'"
Menu prices are higher, but in the end, checks are roughly the same as if the diner had added a tip, Meyer tells Cooper. "By the time you get your bill, whatever shock you did or didn't feel when you saw the menu prices, should completely dissipate, because you should say, 'That's exactly what it would have been if they hadn't had this new system.'"
The policy is not catching on, but Meyer is not daunted. "It's almost immaterial who's doing it besides us. What matters is that we're doing it. It could be that we're slightly ahead of our time."