a repost: Does Tipping Have Racist Origins? This Seasoned Restaurateur Says Yes

Article posted on Atlanta Blackstar (click link for original post)




Most restaurant goers see tipping as a courteous practice to thank waiters for their service. But what many may not know is that the practice of giving your server a few extra bucks is actually rooted in racism.

During a recent interview on food-lovers podcast “The Sporkful with Dan Pashman,” Shake Shack founder and restaurateur Danny Meyer spoke about the racist history of tipping and why he finally decided to ban the practice in his restaurants back in 2015.

“Tipping is actually one of the biggest hoaxes ever pulled on an entire culture,” Meyer said.

He went on to explain that the age-old custom came about after the abolition of slavery, as restaurant owners and the railroad industry, which mainly employed formerly enslaved Black Americans, used abolition as an excuse to make them work for tips rather than paying them actual wages.

“It wasn’t considered slavery because we [the restaurant industry] would ask our customers to pay tips, and therefore, no one could say they were being enslaved,” Meyer explained.

“That’s the history of how it started in this country,” he added. “You don’t see it in Asia. You don’t see it primarily in most European countries. But that’s what it was — and it created a completely false economy.”

The Shake Shack founder also pointed out that tipping is essentially a “multiplier of menu prices.” As menu prices have increased over the past three decades, so have tip amounts, with tip-eligible employees, who usually work the front of restaurants, enjoying an income increase of 300 percent. However, tip-ineligible employees, such as cooks and dishwashers, have seen their incomes increase only 20 percent in the same time period. Meyer said that was ultimately what moved him to eliminate tipping from a number of his restaurants.

Podcast host Dan Pashman also highlighted the racial dynamic of many restaurants, noting that as you walk from the front of a restaurant to the back, the complexions of the people tend to get darker. He noted the income disparity between restaurant workers of different races, as well.

“In a tip-based system, studies have shown that nonwhite servers make less than their white peers for equal work,” Pashman said. A similar study published in the scientific journal Sociological Inquiry in 2014, also found that white servers are tipped better than nonwhite servers.

“There’s just nothing good about that,” Meyer said.

So how has the anti-tipping restaurateur managed to succeed after eliminating the common practice from his eateries? Attn: reported that Meyer has since increased menu prices marginally and started paying his employees a higher hourly wage.

“As with anything in life, if you want to make change, you have to make change in that,” Meyer said.

10 thoughts on “a repost: Does Tipping Have Racist Origins? This Seasoned Restaurateur Says Yes

  1. Yes this was amazing right here. If I go to the restaurant and they try and sit me in the back when there’s plenty of seats available I leave. Why are u putting me in the back when it’s not peak hours and there’s plenty of seats available?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hahahahah right. That’s why I don’t go out to places too often. Like if I go grocery shopping and I see 3 people in front of me at the check out counter. The clerk talks to all 3 people. But when it’s my turn you don’t say hi or good morning? I look for those little things and what I do is I just kill them with my checkbook. There’s this black owned clothing store in my old neighborhood and they don’t even greet you when u walk in. So I take my business elsewhere. I think we collectively as a people, must know our self worth. I just want equal service.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yea I know. I honestly just order shit online now. But it’s because our standards are low. If I owned a store and you was a potential customer I would greet you ask you if you need help and if we don’t have what you are looking for I would ask for a suggestion. I went into that store man, I wanted some jojoba oil and there’s no business sense. There’s boxes everywhere, garbage in the aisles and the music was too loud. I asked for help but the Lil homie at the register wasn’t too interested in helping. “Naw we don’t got ya size my nigga” I was like wtf?? He didn’t even know my size for the tshirt. I put the jojoba oil back and just bounce. “Awwww you ain’t tryna get that oil, bruh?” That’s what he said when I put the oil back.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. And here, the hourly wages for servers are so low it’s disgusting. They are essentially slaves working for tips. I’ve worked in a restaurant, as a hostess which was hard enough, but serving people is one of the most difficult jobs and should be compensated accordingly.


  3. I definately believe people can be racist when it comes to tipping waitresses. Some people could feel a certain way because the waitress person is a certain race, such as black. Or even because they are stereotyping because of something that they have felt in their past .This of course is unfair and unjust , I feel like if people are not going to be equal then these people shouldn’t do it at all. The fact that it says “studies have shown (non white) servers make less than theirs white peers for equal work,” this is the kicker, this is what really catches my attention towards this racism in resteraunts.

    Liked by 1 person

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