Red letter day
Yesterday I received an e-mail from
Mr. Danny Meyer. Hearing from the
proprietor of several of my favorite
Manhattan eateries made me feel
special. You see, if I miss anything
it's an evening on the town at a place
that knows how to show you a good
time. Service ultimately is what most
separates a tiny nibble from a hearty
meal. I'm not suggesting that what's
on the blue plate isn't important. But
often how it's dished out is what in
the end makes most meal satisfying.
At your service
Since opening the Union Square Cafe
Mr. Meyer has created a plethora of
quality establishments - all unique
yet with an equal level set of polished,
courteous, and impeccable service.
Something that is sadly lacking in the
majority of dining establishments all
across this fair country. Somewhere,
somehow we lost or rejected the true
art of hospitality. Whether that's due
to a lack of training or an absence of
civility is questionable. All I know is
that poor service is most distasteful.
But back to Mr. Meyer's missive.
It outlined a dramatic departure
from the traditional art of serving
the public. Soon his restaurants
will no longer allow tipping. All
prices will be raised twenty five
percent and the added revenue
will be shared by one and ALL of
his employees. Meaning that now
every patron is forced to reward
his staff whether they deserve it or
not - tipping the scale in their favor.
Which means the winner takes all.
A tip is monetary recognition for a
job well done. And for a very long
time help staff got whatever they
deserved. I've always felt it is my
responsibility to reward any effort
above and beyond basic service. A
creature of habit, my partners in
crime slowly get to know me - my
wants, needs, and foibles. Hence
upon arrival, my favorite cocktail
arrives soon thereafter. Just as no
whip cream ever dollops it's way
onto my creme de caramel.
For that and much more those who
feed me are rewarded generously.
After all, if they win... I win. Sadly
not all diners share my commitment
to financial recognition. In fact I've
seen many leave little to nothing on
the table. Ultimately my hope is that
I do my part to leveling the playing
field. However that has always been
my option - not a required price of
entry. Now Danny Meyer's approach
to tipping leaves me no option but to
ante up. Which seems a bit thankless.
Prohibited from rewarding excellence
automatic tipping may only encourage
mediocrity. Without a motivating factor
to push oneself above and beyond, most
will simply do the minimum required.
Sans any incentive it seems that once
again, the customer will get less while
the management gets more. Therefore
I hope said approach is an experiment
at best. Take a tip from me Danny -
good intentions aside, one usually gets
only what they pay for - nothing more.