In 12 of the 17 restaurants surveyed, customers do have the option of directly tipping the server. In all 12, tips are added to a pool and evenly divided among those on the shift.
But customers rarely choose to tip after already paying the 10 percent service charge. “To be truthful, nobody tips us besides foreigners,” said a server at Trio Bistro Bakery & Cafe (TRIO義式庭園).
In some restaurants, like Wow Prime and Ishizen Japanese Restaurant, tips are refused outright.
“Tips are a bad idea invented by Americans, and our waiters are forbidden to accept them,” said the Japanese restaurant’s owner.
“Look at it this way: There is one person who serves you at the table, but behind him there are nine people who provide service. Why should just the one person receive a tip for service?” she said.
Liu, whose employer also enforces a no-tip policy, said that the effect of tips can be achieved in other ways.
“Restaurants can give servers the service charge, or offer good wages and benefits. Treat employees like a golden egg,” he said. “I think that if we had things like that, we would feel more of an incentive when we are on the job.”