Restaurateur: Tipping has a racist history

Restaurateur: Tipping has a racist history

Restaurateur Danny Meyer, who famously ditched gratuities at several of his New York eateries, recently spoke out about the racist roots of tipping, calling the practice “one of the biggest hoaxes ever pulled on an entire culture.”

The Shake Shack founder explained on WNYC’s “The Sporkful” podcast earlier this month that tipping began in the US just after the Civil War as a way to get around the abolition of slavery.

“The restaurant industry, as well as the Pullman train car industry, successfully petitioned the United States government to make a dispensation for our industries that we would not pay our servers,” he said. “But it wasn’t considered slavery because we would ask our customers to pay tips and therefore no one could say they were being enslaved.”

“And no surprise, most of the people who were working in service professional jobs and restaurants and in Pullman train cars were African-American,” Meyer continued.

In October 2015, the restaurateur announced that he was beginning to phase out tipping by raising menu prices at his eateries, starting with the posh restaurant The Modern inside the Museum of Modern Art. Since then, he’s also eliminated tipping at Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe.

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