Normally when we spill ink on one of Steve Cuozzo's adorable columns in the NY Post, it's to point out that he is the Mayor of Wrongville, a loner afraid of change who sits in the corner of his hovel surrounded by jars of urine, rocking back and forth on his heels whilst murmuring things about "pedestrian plazas." Maybe not! Today, Cuozzo is the champion of service employees everywhere in advocating for a mandatory, built-in 20 percent tip in New York establishments. "A mandatory service charge democratizes the restaurant experience for both customers and staff," Cuozzo writes.
But won't the servers just get really lazy if they know they're already being tipped? Don't sites like Yelp keep service in check? Not exactly. Cuozzo explains why: "In the US…waiters are regarded as lowly drudges who must grovel to making a living—and sometimes act that way…Can you reduce a sales clerk's or bus driver's salary if you don't like them?"
In our past experience, we can tell you that it's extremely common to be stiffed by ostensibly well-meaning tourists, with whom you practice your German and recommend your favorite bar, only to find a 1% gratuity and realize that this is their 15th trip to the Big Apple. They don't live here and they'll never see you again: why would they tip you? Because people are inherently good? HAHA.
"A uniform service charge would help codify exactly what waiters should be paid," and would solidify what is expected of them. It's difficult for a manager to motivate their staff or discipline servers in certain situations, because they have no idea if they're working for free (i.e. sans tip). And while Yelp and other review sites do keep a measure of pressure on restaurateurs to provide good service, there are just as many people in New York (see the tourists above) who could care less. Having a predictable percentage of tips on the books would also decrease the amount of legal disputes between staff and management.
Until the next time Cuozzo writes about how bike lanes are giving orphans brain cancer (AND THEY ARE) we'll throw our apron in the air and toast Mr. Cuozzo for actually making sense.