Here’s a little tip: If you raise the subject of tipping in Las Vegas, you’re asking for a reaction.
And I received one after a recent column on New York star restaurateur Danny Meyer’s idea to disallow tipping at his popular dining spots, raise menu prices and pass along increased compensation to his wait staff.
The story has made the rounds in New York, but it’s an especially intriguing issue in Las Vegas with its long history of service workers living off the tips they collect. Some readers are calling the idea a real Meyer’s lemon. Others seem tired of the table side drama associated with tipping at some restaurants.
Here’s a sample served directly to you:
Robert King writes, “You can bank on all the warm fuzzy feelings you get for making someone rich, that’s the best benefit of the restaurant industry.”
Reader Jackie adds, “While being a Wall Street stock. … I don’t like this one bit. Las Vegas is a tipping town.”
Bob Sacamano counters, “He might be on to something. My god, there are a LOT of crappy tippers in this world. If you don’t know how to tip properly, eat in.”
And “DeDondeEs” observes, “What do you define as a crappy tipper, someone who is cheap and doesn’t leave enough, or someone who tips the same amount no matter what the quality of service? I think there are too many of the latter.
“I personally tend to overtip. … I mainly do that because I recognize that most of these servers are paid less than minimum wage and need that tip income to make a fair wage.
“I think a lot of other people are the same way. They just see the 20 percent on top of the menu prices as part of the cost of going out. So for that reason, I would appreciate a place that just built the fair compensation of the server into their prices. … If they have a bad employee, they need to get rid of them, don’t put their job of doing a compensation based performance review in my hands …
“Although in this town that will go over like a lead balloon.”
Joe Sea, clearly a longtime local, recalls, “When comps were easier to get I believe people tipped more. Don’t forget the casinos have tightened up the slots, changed odds on table games and sports betting. Unfortunately too many people take it out on working people that have zero control over odds.”
And “No. 1 Plumber” writes, “Heck, I think I am entitled to some free fried chicken and mashed potatoes after my wife has thrown away a few grand, but I do tip if the service is good, not as much if the service is bad. Never stiff in Vegas. That is breaking the law!”
Time Ranger writes, “I don’t tip based on the food or its prices … it is the quality of the service that earns a tip, nothing else.”
Mark Stern may need to wear a disguise the next time he eats out after posting, “Ten percent is the norm, 15 percent if you’re a fool, gosh and 20 percent you’re an idiot.”
Mr. Wickwire retorts, “Ten percent is the norm? Dude, you’re a friggin’ cheapskate.”
And finally, a reader calling himself “Napoleon Dynomite” moves out from behind the grill to write, “What has been left out of this particular discussion and the reason Mr. Meyer claims that it is needed is the disparity between front and back of the house workers. Many cooks and chef’s are skilled and educated at their craft yet walk out the back door with a small portion of what an order taker/food deliverer makes. Waitstaff tips have gone up 200 percent in the last 2 decades but back of the house wages have climbed only 10 percent. I personally heard a busboy bragging about how much he made a couple nights ago and it was more than I made that day, and I’m the executive chef.”
That makes me want to start tipping the chef, too.
How about you?
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Contact him at 702 383-0295, or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith