Tipping a thing of the past at some restaurants

No-tip policy takes effect at major chain

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Imagine leaving a restaurant without tipping. It's becoming more common in the service industry, and the policy has won approval from a major national chain.

Once considered a major faux pas, some restaurants are actually encouraging diners not to tip their servers.

"That would be a great idea, I believe. That way we wouldn't have to figure out what the tip would be, it's all taken care of, it's all in one pricing," diner Sandra Wilcox said.

Joe's Crab Shack recently instituted the policy at 18 of its 130 locations. Here's how it works: Servers get paid more than just $2 or $3 dollars an hour - more like $15 or $20. Then restaurants either increase the price of food or add a service charge to a bill, meaning the price you see on the check is the only price you pay.

Diner Tachelle Richardson says, "I don't think that's fair, why should we have to pay more? The company should have to foot that bill not us."

Drago's owner Tommy Cvitanovich is split on the idea, saying there are benefits and drawbacks.

"I've heard different reasons why they're doing it. I've heard they want to protect people in the service industry. I've heard it's a better number so it's more accurate for the accounting side of the restaurant," Cvitanovich said.

But will service suffer? Vincent's Italian Cuisine owner Vincent Catalanotto says, definitely.

"It's not going to work because I was a waiter before, and if I'm just getting an hourly salary, I'm not going to go the extra mile to give you that service because I don't care," Catalanotto said.

Service industry employees we spoke to agree.

"I know I'd make a lot less money so I'd probably get a different job, and I think service would go down at a lot of places because you have people that aren't as good at the job doing it," Katie Miller said.

Recently, restaurateur Danny Meyer announced he'd end tipping at his 13 New York-based restaurants. Analysts predict, there are more to come.

"I don't think it's a fad. I think it's something you're going to see because in Europe there's no tipping, tipping is included. It's not new to our industry worldwide," Cvitanovich said.

Although it's catching on in other parts of the country, so far, in New Orleans, no one is biting.

Danny Meyer raised the price on all items at his restaurants by 20 percent as a result of doing away with tips. Meanwhile, Joe's Crab Shack hasn't said when it'll expand the no-tipping policy to all of its restaurants.

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