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Restaurants

Another big-deal restaurateur will eliminate tipping next year

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Chef Daniel Humm at the kitchen of Eleven Madison Park in New York City. (Reuters)

Eleven Madison Park, the three Michelin-starred restaurant lauded for its seasonal tasting menus, will eliminate tipping in its Manhattan dining room in 2016.

The restaurant will raise the price of its tasting menu from $225 to $295 per person—an increase of 31 percent, reports Eater. Beverage pairings will go up by $15, from $155 to $170, while overall wine prices will rise by roughly  seven to ten percent, depending on the vintage. After the optional wine pairing, a table for two will likely cost over $1,000.

Owners Daniel Humm and Will Guidara are following in the steps of another Manhattan restaurateur Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard. Meyer has been mentoring Humm and Guidara, as well as chef and "Top Chef" host Tom Colicchio to eliminate tipping to help overcome the wage disparity between front-of-the-house workers like waiters and those in the back of the house, like dishwashers who tend to make less money.

"From a purist perspective, what I believe is right is ultimately moving away from tips," Guidara told Eater. "That said,  I don't think we're fully there yet, everywhere."

Guidara says that he plans to raise server wages by $2.50 and raise the wages of kitchen staffers by about $1 per hour.

Says the restaurateur, "If we have to do it for the servers, and I think the servers deserve it, then we have to do it for the cooks too.”

Eleven Madison Park is currently ranked fifth on San Pellegrino’s top 50 best restaurants in the world and the move to eliminate tipping pushes the establishment into the realm of the country’s most expensive places to dine.

The move should also encourage staff to take time off and wages won't be affected by slower or busier seasons. 

But Guidara is not ready to expand the gratuity-included model to his other eateries, including The NoMad, like Meyer did recently.

Says Guidara, "Maybe we're not yet at a point where the guest is willing to pay $115 for the chicken and we can give cooks the $5 to $7 raise they actually deserve. But I think that's a part of the next few years that's going to be good because I do think we're going to start to get there."