Effective September first, Per Se, one of the most highly rated Manhattan restaurants, is instituting a 20 percent service charge to all checks in lieu of a tip. The service charge will then be used by the restaurant to help pay all hourly employees -- kitchen staff, waiters, and busboys -- a flat hourly wage.
Management at Per Se doesn't seem particularly troubled by these concerns.
Chef Keller has said he instituted a service charge at one of his other restaurants, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, and it has gone well.
A spokesman for Per Se said the stable salary -- which also comes with benefits like vacation and health insurance -- would create a more professional environment and increase motivation. He also said the customers might find it convenient not having to contemplate a tip.
Instead of a service charge, why not just increase prices by 20% (and put up a sign eliminating tipping)