With all the rosy talk of a “living wage” being offered to wait staff and making restaurants more like “general business,” I think some very large issues are being ignored in this discussion [“The Tipping Point: Is Blue Dream Curry Paving the Way for No-tip Restaurants in Asheville?” Feb. 3, Xpress.] First of all, this is America, and why would I want to go to a restaurant that tells me I am not allowed to leave a tip if I feel like it? Last I heard, tipping is still optional.
What is not optional, however, is the price of a meal — and anyone who has done even a modicum of research into the impact of no-tipping policies in other cities knows that the no-tip restaurants have raised their entree and drink policies across the board. How else do you think they are paying servers over $12 an hour? Frankly, it’s also nice to have the option of rewarding good service or voicing our disappointment in bad. Do we really want dining out to resemble the one-sided frustration of a “customer-service” phone call with “general business”? As a restaurant-goer, I say, no thank you.
Another reason I like leaving a tip is because I like helping people reach their dreams. When I was in college, I worked as a waitress to pay for school. Many people in the service industry work for tips as they strive to become doctors, writers, teachers, musicians, actors, artists and [work at] other vocations that make our world a better place.
One of the nice things about going out to dinner is that I get to share the fruits of my own successful journey by giving back to people starting their own. As a waitress, I received several hundred-dollar tips — not because I was the fastest to get appetizers on the table, but because the people I served saw a young lady striving to make something of herself and doing so with grace and a smile. Historically, tipping has not just been about paying more for food, it has been an institutionalized way we as a community can support others in their larger dreams.
How many of you are parents who hope to send children to college? Do you hope that your son or daughter has the opportunity to earn tips as they strive to pay the bills for school? Or maybe you are a tourist who has come to experience the beautiful music and art of Asheville. Wouldn’t it be nice to support one of the many artists here making her way as a server?
We cannot overlook the role that tipping plays as the oldest and simplest form of crowdfunding — it is a way that we are able to give freely to the dreams of ourselves and our community. Remember folks, tipping is not the law. It is, however, like voting, a privilege.
― Cathy Nichols