Thanks in Advance?

The auto-gratuity debate reaches a tipping point at the city’s top new eatery.

select oyster bar

Illustration by Adam Avery

When you dine at Select Oyster Bar, the Back Bay seafood spot so solid we deemed it 2015’s Best New Restaurant, your check arrives with a 20 percent tip already figured in. Chef-owner Michael Serpa says he instituted the policy “to make sure our staff was taken care of” in a neighborhood teeming with out-of-towners who might be unfamiliar with local customs. Much like Uber, he adds, it streamlines the transaction.

This approach, predictably, has riled up the foodie community. Several dining-scene vets told me on background that they find the policy “­coercive,” and that it ­undermines the discretionary nature of tipping.

Personally, I’m sympathetic to the notion that one’s livelihood shouldn’t be tied to the whims of the guy gorging on bivalves at Table 8. But without a star-rating system like Uber’s to help keep lackluster service in check, it’s fortunate that Serpa will remove the gratuity if a patron complains about subpar delivery.