Thursday, 13 June 2013

Can Sushi change customer behaviour?

I came across this interesting article about a Sushi Restaurant in New York City, bucking the American tradition of tipping.

Brought to attention by food critic, Ryan Sutton, Sushi Yasuda has implemented a “Gratuities not accepted” rule. In Ryan’s blog post, he goes into detail behind the owner’s decision to cut out tipping. The main reason, as explained on the restaurant’s receipt, is that service staff are fully compensated for their services with a living wage – so why the need to tip?

I feel this also addresses a very important internal communication issue. Whether the owner knows it or not, buy implementing this rule, his staff – from kitchen hands, to waiters, to chefs – are united under the same wage system. I know this sounds a bit stale, but think about it: when you go to a restaurant in America, you tip your waiter. But the experience is not solely reliant on their hard work. By treating all Sushi Yasuda’s staff as equal employees, entitled to a living wage, it unites them to do a better job TOGETHER.

With the minimum wage is still laughable in America; a few places are starting to implement the same strategy. Providing a living wage for your employees mean they are happier, work better and work smarter. What is difficult about America is that it is not only about changing the economics of the system, but to eliminate or alter the whole social custom.

So, although on paper it all sounds good, especially for the employees, but can sushi change customer behaviour?

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School


  1. In my opinion, there is no need to remove or discourage tipping as tipping is a sign of generosity.

    1. I agree, but in America it also goes hand-in-hand with the living wage issue. Tipping exists as a cultural norm now because employees in the service industries would not be able to survive on their wages if it were not for tipping. I guess tipping could be eliminated if the minimum wage in America was raised. This Sushi restaurant just demonstrates how a small company can treat it's employees with respect and address such a broader social issue.

  2. If your business has the right culture, I can see how this could work. Tipping often makes me feel uncomfortable, I never know how much to leave. Perhaps I may be more comfortable eating Sushi at Yasuda!