It's coming, guys. And by "it," we mean the end of tipping. At least ostensibly.
The move comes less than six months after Danny Meyer said he'd eliminate gratuities at all of his New York establishments, and just two months after Portlander Scott Dolich announced his restaurants, Park Kitchen and The Bent Brick, would do the same.
"For us, there's a big issue in the world—and in America—about pay equity," Fortgang explained over a phone call this morning. "Our hope is to continue to make our restaurant a better place to work."
To implement the program, Rucker and Fortgang plan on raising prices, but not by a lot. The idea, Fortgang says, is to raise them just enough to be able to pay back of house employees a better wage, and his front of house employees a competitive wage.
In other words, the cost of your dinner will soon include what in the past would have been your gratuity. To keep it simple for diners, Le Pigeon staff will explain the concept to its guests and will present them with checks sans tip line.
For now, Rucker and Fortgang's other restaurant, Little Bird, will stick to a tipping system, but Fortgang acknowledges that a tip-free policy will likely be implemented there, too, once he and Rucker feel like Le Pigeon's tipless kinks have been worked out.
Last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that restaurants cannot make servers share tips with back of the house employees like cooks. The court's ruling comes just weeks after the Oregon legislature signed off on raising the minimum wage for all workers, capping out at $14.75 an hour for people living in Portland.
The writing's on the wall, y'all. Soon, your food—like everything else you purchase—is going to be a little pricier. But the people who prepare it will be making a little bit more.