Cheesecake Factory(l), Fine print(r)

SarahJaneJ/Shutterstock Vivid_Papaya2422/Reddit (Licensed)

‘It’s always been an option’: Fine print about tipping on Cheesecake Factory menu leaves customers divided

'Why not let people always choose.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Mar 14, 2024   Updated on Mar 14, 2024, 10:47 am CDT

As the tipping debate thrashes in the United States, a thread on Reddit’s r/EndTipping sub has brought The Cheesecake Factory into the spotlight, not for its seemingly endless menu but for its tipping policy.

In a post by user @Vivid_Papaya2422, they shared an image of the restaurant’s menu, which clearly states, “Tipping is entirely voluntary. For the convenience of our guests, we add an 18% suggested tip to parties of 8 or more, but payment of that amount is not required. Our guests always have the right to determine how much they’d like to tip,” followed by other several other restaurant policies.

The subheader conveys the original poster’s pleasant surprise, hinting at a possible shift in the hospitality industry: “Pleasantly surprised to see this on the menu! I’m willing to tip in some circumstances, but glad the 18% auto gratuity is marked as optional!”

The stance of r/EndTipping, which campaigns for the elimination of the need for U.S. workers to rely on tips, resonated with many who were more than happy to share their thoughts on the thread.

A top commenter succinctly puts it: “Good. It should be voluntary. It’s always been an option not a rule.” This perspective echoes a growing sentiment among American consumers who believe that tipping, while customary, should not be mandatory, especially for less-than-exceptional service.

Another user echoed the sense of novelty this policy inspired: “Kind of refreshing.” However, not all were swayed by what could be perceived as merely a superficial change by Cheesecake Factory Corporate. One commenter delved a little deeper, criticizing the potential duplicity of the move: “I’d like to think this is a step in the right direction, but in some ways, it is worse than a forced 18% tip because this lets them ‘look good’ but also know that almost no one is going to want to look like ‘that person’ in a large party who refuses to tip.”

This discussion came about amid recent negative press directed at The Cheesecake Factory. After a lawsuit was filed by over 60 janitors alleging underpayment, the company’s tipping policy might be seen as a way to regain consumer favor or shift the narrative. The conversation is especially topical as it coincidentally collides with heightened criticism of America’s tipping culture in general.

A recent study highlighted that over 75% of Americans feel tipping culture has escalated excessively, with electronic tip requests appearing in seemingly every transaction, from bodegas to vape shops and every business with a POS system.

Cheesecake Factory Tip Optional!
byu/Vivid_Papaya2422 inEndTipping

Could The Cheesecake Factory’s approach be the canary in the coal mine for broader change? As this debate evolves, many will be watching to see if other businesses follow suit, turning the voluntary tipping policy from a unique selling proposition into a hospitality norm.

Reddit’s reception to this change is cautiously optimistic, with many not holding their breath. As one commenter puts it, “Why not just let people always choose. More people means more money. Cause bigger groups spend a lot more. Cause they often are celebrating something.” 

Here’s to hoping for some changes to in tipping culture that leave both people on opposite sides of the debate feeling less perturbed.  

The Daily Dot has reached out to The Cheesecake Factory via email and @Vivid_Papaya2422 via Reddit direct message for comment. 

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*First Published: Mar 14, 2024, 3:00 pm CDT