Earlier this month, Danny Meyer sent shockwaves around the restaurant world by announcing that he would be taking his Union Square Hospitality Group tip-free, making it the largest and most prominent group of restaurants to join in on the growing trend. If others follow suit, it could prove to be a major tipping point in how Americans think about tipping. If it does, we’ll all have some shirtless weirdo dancing at a concert to thank. Wait… what?
In an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News last week, Danny Meyer cited a 2010 viral video (which Meyer endearingly referred to as a “film”) as the embodiment of his recent thinking on tipping. “It’s really the next ones in who are the true leaders,” Meyer said, talking about the no-tip movement. “There’s an amazing film that I want to share with you. You’re going to look at it and say, ‘This is really silly,’ but if you’ve got two-and-a-half minutes you’re going to see how we’re thinking about this also.”
The film in question shows how one crazy shirtless dude inspires an entire mob of people to start dancing, but the commentary behind the video speaks to how it isn’t the first person to start dancing that’s most important: Instead, the first follower is the one who gives credence to the leader’s vision by joining in, transforming “a lone nut into a leader.”
Since Meyer didn’t invent the idea of taking restaurants tip-free, what’s not entirely clear is whether he sees himself as that shirtless nut or one of the first followers of that shirtless nut. But either way, I’m pretty sure he’s advocating that we all take our shirts off and start dancing, preferably in a Shake Shack.