The lowdown: 20% service charge applied when booking reservation
Chi's Michelin-laden mainstay requires diners to pay for their entire experience up front -- tasting menu, tax, and tip. Multiple calls to Alinea were not returned, but according to Grub Street and a slew of anecdotal Yelp reviews, the gratuity charge is 20% of the menu price. It's unclear whether the money goes directly to servers or into the "general restaurant operations" fund.
New York, NY
The lowdown: Prix-fixe 18-course menu; tips not expected
Eater reports that when the doubled-Michelin-starred Tribeca hotspot reopens on May 12th, it'll do with a "European-style service-included system." The 18-course tasting menu will cost $235 (not including beverage or tax), and no additional gratuity is necessary. "We can even out the salaries among everybody and have the money to be able to add health-insurance on top of that," owner Jodi Richard Eater's Ryan Sutton.
San Francisco, CA
The lowdown: Prices calculated to pay living wage; additional tips not accepted
Back in fall 2014, SFGate reported that Agricole would be one of five Bay Area restaurants moving away from standard gratuities. The news was met with speculation over whether they'd be able to pull it off. Fast-forward a few months, and it seems to be smooth sailing, at least at Agricole. "[T]he price was a little high for what it was," writes Yelper David C. "but considering tip was included, it was well worth it!" Owner Thad Vogler told me on the phone that BA raised its menu prices 20%; their average gratuity before they changed their system at the beginning of 2015 was around 21%. There's no tip line -- a seamless dining experience.
The lowdown: BOH/FOH paid salaries; tips not accepted
The Strip District spot skips all gratuity in favor of a base salary (reportedly $35,000), plus 10 vacation days and shares in the organization. Any tips left by accident will be donated to an area food bank.
The lowdown: Living wage; tips not accepted
Everyone on staff at this not-for-profit brewpub is an employee-owner (hence "co-op") and draws a living wage, the extra revenue for which is derived directly from (slightly) higher menu prices. "The best way to support us [instead of tipping] is to come by," one employee-owner told me. "Even better -- become a member!"
The lowdown: 15% service fee on all dine-in meals; tips not accepted
"All the employees get paid between $12 and $15," an employee at this LA county bistro told me. "Even if we're slow, we don't send people home," instead training them up on different facets of the business to "make you more valuable."
The lowdown: Unspecified service charge when making reservation; extra cash tips accepted
Grub Street says this tough-to-land Boerum Hill reservation comes with an up-front service charge of 18%, which gets distributed evenly to front- and back-of-house. Yelp reviews vary on the point of gratuity (some putting it at 20%, others warning to bring cash for tips), and multiple inquiries with the restaurant went unanswered. I'll update when I know more.