Irvington's Wolfert's Roost To Eliminate Tipping

The restaurant will shift to what is known as a service-included policy.

Famed restaurateur Danny Meyer (The Modern, Shake Shack) made waves this past October when he announced a service-included policy at all his restaurants and now, there’s a Westchester restaurant following suit.

Wolfert’s Roost in Irvington is set to be the first in the county to instill such a policy. What that means is diners won’t leave a tip, but some dishes on the menu will see a price increase (up to 25 percent, though some dishes won’t increase at all) and ultimately, according to Chef/Owner Eric Korn, the total price will come out to be about the same as if you left a standard tip. When you pay via credit/debit card and your receipt comes back, the tip line will be obsolete.

Before putting it in place, Korn did his homework on the whole idea of service included (or hospitality included) and talked to Meyer’s people at Union Square Hospitality to ask questions about the idea, how it works when applied to menu prices, and the philosophy behind it. Korn figured if big names in the industry like Meyer and Tom Colicchio (Craft) support it, and that they believe this is the future of the restaurant business, he wanted to be a part of what these undeniably successful guys are doing.

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From April 2014, Chef Jennie Werts—and the rest of the Roost’s crew—in the kitchen, preparing tea-brined chicken. 

Korn thinks eliminating tipping makes even more sense for his small crew at Wolfert’s Roost because they know the business. “We’re under 10 [on staff] and they all have a kitchen background so they’ve seen how unfair it can be,” he said. “On a bad night the kitchen staff earns, but the front-of-the-house does not. When it’s busy, the front makes a lot and the back of the house earns the same as they always do.”

Korn insists that this whole idea is not political (although he would like to be a leader in terms of passing on knowledge gained from the experience), but that it’s about consistency and positivity for his staff.

 “I just want my whole crew to know what they’re making, be happy with it, and know they can pay their bills with what they earn,” he said. “Everyone here will get a bump in income and stability, and that’s positive.”

The kitchen staff should see a 10 to 15 percent increase while the front-of-the-house crew will have more stable income streams—no more up and down based on busy versus slow periods.

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“I won’t see more money,” says Korn, “but my benefit is a more cohesive team long term and less staff turnover.”

Wolfert’s Roost plans to put the hospitality-included idea into effect sometime before Valentine’s Day.  

Wolfert’s Roost
100 Main St
(914) 231-7576

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