Is service charge still necessary in restaurants?

More and more of our local restaurants and eateries are using technology to step up their productivity, relieve the labour crunch and cut costs.

A typical dining experience would be like this:

A waiter would lead us to an available table. We would read the menu and place our order through a tablet.

The waiter would then deliver the food to our table. In future, even this may be done by a robot.

We are told at the restaurant that we are free to help ourselves to more water or rice at the serving station.

At the end of the meal, we make payment at the cashier on our way out.

Such a dining experience is becoming more and more common. It is close to the fast-food style of dining, with minimal human interaction and attention.

Is there still a need for a 10 per cent service charge?

Kevin Chua Hock Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Is service charge still necessary in restaurants?'. Print Edition | Subscribe