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Restaurant Owner's Decision to Go Tip-Free Ignites Online Debate

In his video, he proposes a radical shift towards a no-tipping model in one of his bars as a "sociological experiment."
UPDATED FEB 20, 2024
Cover Image Source: TikTok | Pat Light
Cover Image Source: TikTok | Pat Light

A former Boston Red Sox pitcher and bar owner sparked a debate online on fair wage questions as well as tipping culture with a viral TikTok video that has now garnered over 100k views. In his video, he proposes a radical shift towards a no-tipping model in one of his bars as a "sociological experiment."

He talked about how he hates when people assume that he doesn't pay his staff enough due to which they rely on the tips. "I own bars for a living and I get the most amount of hate saying that I don’t pay my staff a fair wage and yada yada yada, right? People don’t like the tipping culture. People don’t wanna be a part of it."

TikTok |
TikTok | Pat Light

The TikTok user says that eliminating tipping in one of his bars allowed their customers to simply pay for their drinks and leave. However, Light says that this approach will require increasing prices to cover staff wages and asks everybody if they would prefer this straightforward pricing model. "Would you guys be so inclined to do that?" he asked his viewers. 

Many people took to the comment section to share their views on the issue. One user wrote, "I prefer the [European Union] approach.” Another person said, “Put service costs in the price, but make sure the staff is paid." "The thing is it shouldn’t be a percentage. The bill being $30 and the bill being $300 doesn’t change the service given. A tip should be a $5 or $10 out of kindness, not a necessary thing," wrote another user, reflecting on the issue. 

According to a Pew Research study, a majority of Americans feel that tipping is expected in more places today than it was compared to half a decade ago. This is often referred to as "tipflation." The study also found that people had mixed feelings about tipping, with respondents divided pretty divided with their opinions. 

TikTok |
TikTok | Pat Light

However, the question remains, is the no-tipping movement a sustainable business model? A restaurant in Toronto adopted a no-tip model in 2022.  David Neinstein, the owner pays an hourly wage of $22.25 to his employees at Barque BBQ. The owner says that he always wanted his staff to have a predictable and stable income. “Why should restaurant employees take a substandard minimum wage and have their compensation based on strangers?” he says.

TikTok |
TikTok | Pat Light

Customers at Barque BBQ have responded positively to the shift. However, not everybody has had such luck. Another restaurant switched back to its tipping model after going tip-free as Vancouver-based restaurant Ritual did not receive a positive response. "It is awkward for people. We’ve had a lot of different experiences with customers where it’s weird," the owner of the restaurant Nevada Cope said back in 2016, per CTV News.

@pat__light Tipping culture is a sore subject in the United States and abroad. I would be curious if I got rid of it in one of my locations if sales spiked and people loved it. Prices with naturally have to go up to cover labor costs, but the expectation of coming in and just paying for your drinks and leaving might be something people are interested in. ##patlight##hoboken##jerseycity##nycfood##tippingculture##tipping##restaurant##restaurantowner##foodandbeverage ♬ original sound - Pat Light


A report by Dalhousie University revealed that 37% of customers liked tipping while only 10% said that they were not happy. 

You can follow Pat Light (@pat__light) on TikTok for more financial content.