Danny Meyer
Chief Executive, Union Square Hospitality Group
Is Tipping in Restaurants Going Away?

Danny Meyer From the RK Archives
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Is this revolutionary or just a much needed change to save fine dining? I can tell you from recent experience, the talent pool for cooks in fine dining restaurants is very dry. Restaurants in the bay area are scrambling to find and keep cooks. The problem is getting worse and worse. Is there a solution?

Earlier this week, Danny Meyer, Chief Executive of the Union Square Hospitality Group announced that the company would be eliminating tipping at all of their restaurants. The groups restaurant, Modern, will implement the change first as a pilot program and the rest of the groups outlets will be tip-free by the end of next year.

• Link to CNBC story featuring Danny Meyer's reason for eliminating tips

• Link to the press release from Union Square Hospitality Group

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(Here is our interview and profile [updated] of Danny Meyer back when he was publicizing his book, Second Helpings from the Union Square Café)

What would you expect a top restaurant-entrepreneur from New York City to look and act like? Hyper, "Type A", loud, brash? Maybe. How about gentlemanly, courteous, even soft spoken? The latter is the way I found Danny Meyer. At the time he was the owner of 5, restaurants including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, 11 Madison Park, Tabla, and Blue Smoke. Now the his management company have expanded to 12 restaurants and that doesn't include the hip and iconic fast food stands called Shake Shack. Shake Shack now has franchises in NYC, Las Vegas and Dubai. Did I mention he also looks way too young for an industry magnate? Ok, never mind.

Back for Seconds
Now we get to the cookbook, Second Helpings from The Union Square Cafe(Harper Collins), co-written by Meyer and Chef Michael Romano. The book has over 140 recipes from the restaurants kitchen. Yet, each were tested in a home kitchen, assuring that the recipes were accessible to the average home cook.

The book has no glossy, color pictures of food. Rather a series of very sharp, wry and clever photo essays featuring the restaurant and the characteristics of its patrons. You have to see the pictures! The recipes do not take a back seat to the style of the book. They are straight-forward, not a lot of convoluted restaurant recipes with multiple sub-recipes. These are mainly Italian-American comfort foods. Starting simply enough with 6 appetizers, 6 salads, and 6 soups. Not unlike a restaurant menu. The cold soups are intriguing, a melon soup and a vichyssoise, for example.

From there, the choices become more varied. The pasta and risotto chapter offer everything from classics (Linguine and Clams) to the sublime (Spaghetti all'Aragosta or Spaghetti with Lobster). There are FIVE risotto recipes. Check out the Eggplant, Anchovy and Mint Risotto for an unusual, yet classic taste combination.
The main courses are stripped of their accompaniment. That is to say, the things you might find on the plate at Union Square Cafe, are offered to the reader ala carte. You choose the side dishes for the main courses. A nice convention in restaurant cookbooks.

• Risotto with eggplant, anchovy and mint