Session Film: The Tipping Debate — How Does Eliminating Tipping Affect the Restaurant Industry? is the latest foodservice event made by industry leaders for industry leaders. Executives, master chefs, restaurateurs, mixologists, and filmmakers gather for a day of Food Theory: collaboration, education, and entertainment. Attendees participated in interactive panel sessions, where custom films preceded an expert-panel Q&A. Missed out? Never fear! Enjoy this featured panel film below and get ready for 2017.

A new debate has the industry at the tips of its fingers: to tip or not to tip? This game-changing tactic of raising employee wage and menu prices in order to eliminate tipping at restaurants is unfolding. Will operators and consumers alike tip their hats off to this new philosophy or will this be the tipping point into bad territory?

While some see this as a solution to balancing front of house and back of house wages, others see this as removing the incentive for better service.

Here are what some of our consumer interviewees on the streets of New York had to say about the tipping debate:

What are your thoughts on tipping?

  • "It shouldn't be on the customer to make sure there's livable wages for other people."
  • "If you're hiring people who will do the job the way you want them to do the job, you're going to get the same level of service no matter what.
  • "I like the concept of tipping. I think it's a nice incentive to go above and beyond." 

Would you rather pay more for food or tip?

  • "If the food is going up by only a few more dollars, I think it would be worth it."
  • "I'm more likely to tip them to say, 'Hey, I really appreciate your work.'"
  • "I don't want to tip on something I'm only going to spend $10 on. I'd rather just order take-out."

Still, the tipping debate is a hefty subject to chew over. Operators had their own views on the ideas of eliminating tipping.

"My servers do well because our customers tip well," Brian Keyser, Asellula proprietor and wine director, said. "In my restaurant, I haven't switched to a no-tipping system because the waiters are concerned that if we raise our prices so that we can pay actual wages, people will stop coming, and I think that's a legitimate fear. People will look at the menu and see a $12 burger,and say, 'Let's go down the street and get the $10 burger.'"

The future is still up in the air. How do you feel about tipping?