The Tipping Game

Danny Meyer Wants All Hospitality Workers to Earn $15 an Hour

All in.
All in. Photo: Patrick McMullan

In a move certain to further antagonize the New York State Restaurant Association, Danny Meyer says the state should consider raising the minimum wage for tipped workers to $15 an hour. (That rate just went up to $7.50 on December 31, which restaurateurs moan is “hardship” enough.) In an interview with the national workers’ organization ROC United, co-director Saru Jayaraman, who’s praised Meyer’s tip ban before, asked him who else he thinks Governor Cuomo’s $15 wage should apply to, and his answer is everybody: “I would say that whatever a legislature decides should be the minimum wage should be the minimum wage for everybody. It shouldn’t be for hairdressers, but not for servers. For fast food workers, but not for lawyers. Whatever it is, is what it should be for everybody.”

Among the major beneficiaries of a $15 tipped wage would be servers at the mid-range chain restaurants — a group that can’t seem to find consensus about whether tipping is innately unfair or an important life lesson. As for the waitstaff themselves, they’re likely behind this idea of better hourly pay, especially since, as Meyer’s own stubborn customers have shown, the tips seem to just keep on coming, no matter how much servers are being paid.

Arguing for “one fair wage” in New York, as ROC United calls it, is more proof Meyer isn’t done pushing for fairer hospitality-industry pay. Fittingly, pay raises are also coming to Union Square Hospitality Group workers outside the state: Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti said during a conference yesterday that the “fine casual” burger chain is working to raise hourly pay in “major urban markets” now, before cities’ upcoming wage hikes start. “We know $12, $13, $15 an hour is coming,” he added. “We’re going to do it now and get ahead of the curve.” The Shack already upped starting wages for workers in D.C. to $12 this summer.

[ROC United via Capital NY]

Danny Meyer: Servers Deserve $15 an Hour, Too