Do people want a restaurant with no tipping?

@pat__light/TikTok kckate16/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘People don’t like the tipping culture’: Viewers divided after bar owner blasts ‘tipflation,’ might make his restaurant no tipping

‘I get the most amount of hate saying that I don’t pay my staff a fair wage.’

 

Kahron Spearman

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Pat Light, a former Boston Red Sox pitcher and current bar owner, has sparked an interesting debate on fair wage questions and tipping culture with a viral TikTok video that has garnered over 91,000 views. In his video, Light questions the traditional practice of tipping in restaurants and bars, proposing a radical shift toward a no-tipping model in one of his establishments as a “sociological experiment.”

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Light expresses his frustration with the common criticism that he doesn’t pay his staff a fair wage due to the reliance on tips. He explains, “I own bars for a living and I get the most amount of hate saying that I don’t pay my staff a fair wage and yada yada yada, right? People don’t like the tipping culture. People don’t wanna be a part of it.”

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He further elaborates on the financial implications for customers, noting that “coming in is 20% more expensive because the cost of the drinks, and then 20% more.”

The former pitcher suggests eliminating tipping in one of his bars, allowing customers to simply pay for their drinks and leave. Light acknowledges that this approach would require increasing prices to cover staff wages but wonders if customers would prefer this straightforward pricing model. “Would you guys be so inclined to do that?” he asks his audience, emphasizing the need for customer support to make this experiment work.

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One commenter clarified, “You can’t do ‘does not require’ bc culture will still force everyone to tip. It’s gotta be ‘no tipping allowed.’” One noted that tripping culture isn’t necessarily occurring other countries: “There is no tipping in Europe and it works.”

“I prefer the [European Union] approach,” said another person. “Put service costs in the price, but make sure the staff is paid.”

A few other comments appear to intrinsically suggest that owners should be on the hook for paying fairly, but keep pricing manageable for customers: “Is the increase in price gonna be…..say 20% more?” The idea presents an interesting quandary in that it would mean the owner themselves would need to accept a decrease in profit margin.

Light’s proposal reflects broader sentiments about tipping culture in the United States. According to a Pew Research study, a majority of Americans feel that tipping is expected in more places today than it was five years ago, a phenomenon often referred to as “tipflation.” The study also reveals mixed feelings about tipping, with respondents divided on whether it is more of a choice or an obligation. Tipping has been a sore point partly because business owners have used the practice to utilize public charity to reinforce their inability or refusal to pay a fair wage in their establishment, adding to the tipflation image.

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@pat__light Tipping culture is a sore subject in the United States and abroad. I would be curious if I got rid of it in one of my locations if sales spiked and people loved it. Prices with naturally have to go up to cover labor costs, but the expectation of coming in and just paying for your drinks and leaving might be something people are interested in. ##patlight##hoboken##jerseycity##nycfood##tippingculture##tipping##restaurant##restaurantowner##foodandbeverage ♬ original sound – Pat Light

Pat Light’s TikTok video and the Pew Research study highlight a significant cultural and economic debate around tipping culture. Light’s willingness to experiment with a no-tipping model in his establishment could provide valuable insights into consumer preferences and potentially influence the future of tipping culture in the hospitality industry. Whether or not Light proceeds with his experiment, his video has contributed to an ongoing conversation about fair wages, customer expectations, and the sustainability of the tipping model.

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