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KCRW's Evan Kleiman Thinks Tips Should Be Eliminated in LA Times Op Ed

It's a thoughtful argument for all-inclusive pricing, and tip elimination.

Herringbone, Santa Monica
Herringbone, Santa Monica
Wonho Frank Lee

Ever since the L.A. City Council voted to increase Los Angeles' minimum wage to $15 by 2020, the restaurant industry, one that is plagued with particularly thin margins, has struggled to adapt. Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW's "Good Food" and former restaurant operator of Angeli Cafe, writes an op-ed for the Times explaining why she thinks all-inclusive pricing is the most "honest" solution.

Here are Kleiman's arguments for the "all-in" model, where tipping is completely eliminated and menu prices are raised to include the entire cost of the dining experience, including service:

Closing the wage gap between front and back of the house

"Once the $15 minimum wage goes into effect, the difference in pay between front of the house and back of the house employees will widen as tipping is added into the servers' wages. This gulf in compensation will be particularly alarming at the restaurants that make up the upscale casual dining landscape."

The entire premise of tipping is odd

"There's another reason to abolish tipping. There is a strange dance — often sexist, sometimes abusive — that can go on between servers and diners. Diners want to judge; servers want to be tipped."

There's no need for tipping in most other industries

"Think about all the other services you pay for every day. You don't add on a separate tip for those; you simply pay what the business has decided the cost will be, and you decide to return based on the success and affordability of that transaction."

This model has been adopted by restaurant tycoon Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, which raised menu prices 21-25 percent, with the idea of raising wages for formerly non-tipped, back of house staff, and maintaining wages for the front of house.

Ultimately, as restaurants try to adapt to the impending minimum wage increase (as of January 1, 2016 it already increased to $10), it seems unlikely that the traditional tipping model will stand. Hopefully time will tell the best solution for everyone involved in the restaurant industry.