Tips Appreciated

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Tip Jar

I recently told you about Posto 9, a casually upscale Brazilian gastropub in the heart of Lakeland. In that review, I noted the restaurant’s no-tipping policy. Instead of guests leaving a gratuity based on the check amount, the prices on the menu were a bit higher so that management could pay a better wage to more of the restaurant’s employees. A notecard on each table explained the policy and stated that any tips left would be donated to a local charity.

Experiment over.

A few days after the review was published, Posto 9 announced that it was adopting the industry standard of a gratuity based service model.

The policy shift was explained on Posto 9’s Facebook page:

“Since Posto 9 opened in December we implemented a non-tipping policy based on our objectives to retain talented professionals and to raise the level of quality of service. Both of these objectives were accomplished.”

It seemed to be going well. But then...

“However, once Posto 9 opened the Ipanema Rooftop Lounge in mid-March we encountered significant difficulties in finding talented bartenders. This scenario imposed a strain on the existing bar Team, and has put us in a position that our objectives must be changed.”

So in other words, good bartenders know they can make more money just by being, you know, good bartenders.

This discussion has been going on for decades. The non-tipping movement gained momentum in 2015 when Danny Meyer of New York’s Union Square Hospitality Group announced that all of his restaurants would go gratuity free. And they are still.

Others have adopted the policy and then switched back, just as Posto 9 has done. The casual seafood chain Joe’s Crab Shack experimented going tipless before Meyer did, though the New Yorker caused a media stir with his announcement.

But Joe’s Crab Shack soon discovered that not only were they losing talented workers at those restaurants where the policy was in place, they were losing customers, too. In an article published in The Atlantic, the chain’s CEO Bob Merritt said that the no-tipping policy led to a drop of eight to 10 percent in customer counts.

So apparently, we just like tipping.