Leaving Tips: Here comes the service charge

Here comes the service charge

If customers walk out of Del Frisco's Steak House in New Orleans without leaving a tip, none of the waiters even raise an eyebrow. Nor do they at Cafe Provencal in Evanston, Ill., or Michael's in Santa Monica, Calif. Tipping is no longer expected at these establishments, but that does not mean the service is free. They are among a small but growing number of U.S. restaurants that are replacing the tipping system with a service charge, typically 15% to 18%.

The mandatory charge, which is widely used in Europe, is appealing to American restaurateurs, partly because it simplifies their bookkeeping...

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