Since Danny Meyer announced in October that he’d eliminate tipping at all of his restaurants, reactions have been … mixed. Some people applaud the move; others worry that the quality of service will suffer if staffers aren’t incentivized. And, when Grub caught up with Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld at last night’s Baby Buggy Gala, they told us that they, too, don’t want to see the custom end.
“I was so broke my whole life that my great pleasure is giving big tips,” says Jessica, who worked as a waiter and busser. “I’ll be sad if that’s taken away from me.” Jerry, however, has other reasons: “Comedy-wise, I really like tipping. I like the arguments. I like the weirdness. I like the whispering — there’s no tipping without whispering. How much should I give? It’s always done like it’s illegal for some reason … like if you tip a car valet or a bellman it all has to be done like we don’t want to get caught doing this.”
Did Jerry ever have a job where he got tipped? “Yes,” he says. “I was a waiter. That was my last real job.” Any strategies for pulling in bigger tips? “Just ask them one time if everything’s okay. At the right time. You don’t wait until they’re just about done to ask how it is, and you don’t do it before they’ve really eaten. You’ve got to give them that five minutes so if it’s not good they can send it back. That’s pretty much being a waiter. And then, you know, you’ve got to run around.”
This, however, is no small matter for the Seinfelds. As Jerry explained later during his set, restaurants are a big part of life in NYC:
We live in New York. Every day of life in this goddamn city I gotta hear about a restaurant that’s great. “We got a great restaurant, everybody loves how great the food, it’s great. You would love it, Jerry.” This is another New York thing. People single you out. You. “You have to go to this place.” You alone. Did you like it? “I didn’t care for it myself, but you.”
I don’t want to go to the great restaurant. I don’t want to see them act out the specials. I can’t take the performance anymore. That it’s pan-seared and it’s herb-crusted and we’re going to drizzle it with something that’s a reduction of something else. Stop drizzling! Maybe if you didn’t reduce it so much you wouldn’t have to drizzle it. Just once I’d like to have a waiter say to me, “I got a piece of chicken, I’ve got a can of juice. I take a screwdriver, I pop the top on the can, and I dump the juice on the chicken. That’s the special.”
It takes two and a half hours, your ass is hurting by the end of it, it’s not half as good as a bowl of Lucky Charms and Pepsi anyway.