Two major restaurant trade groups — the 77-year-old United Restaurant Tavern Owners of NY and the much newer NYC Hospitality Alliance — which represent hundreds of bar and restaurant owners, merged recently, reports Crain's NY. The members plan to band together to fight the health department's letter grades and a move by the state towards possibly banning the tip credit (which allows restaurants to pay servers less than the minimum wage if they make up the difference in tips). Kathleen Reilly, who previously served as president of the United Restaurant and Tavern Owners said, "Most of our tipped employees are earning between $20 and $30 an hour....It would be a tremendous burden for our members," if the tipping credit were cut.
Others, disagree. Amanda Cohen recently announced that she will swap out tipping for a cover charge on all bills at Dirt Candy when it reopens later this winter. The state is still debating the tipping issue, with the last of four hearings on the matter set to take place on December 9. Meanwhile, some progress has already been made in the past year to reform the health department's restaurant grading procedures, and the City Council is forming a board next year to evaluate the letter grade system.