A famous NYC restaurant owner said he let waiters have a glass of wine before their shift, and found tips went up 5%

Waiter outside of Balthazar restaurant in New York City
  • The owner of NYC restaurant Balthazar let staff have a glass of wine before service on Tuesday.
  • He said tips were 5% higher post-rosé.
  • Balthazar, a swanky celebrity hotspot, closed early in the pandemic and recently reopened.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A swanky New York City restaurant may have discovered the secret to better tips.

Keith McNally – the famed restaurateur behind Pastis, Minetta Tavern, and Balthazar – posted on Instagram Wednesday that he tried what he called a “one time only experiment” with his staff at Balthazar this week: a glass of rosé prior to the start of service.

The result, besides a lightly lubricated waitstaff? A 5% increase in tips by the end of the night, according to McNally.

A post shared by Keith McNally (@keithmcnallynyc)

The brasserie, located in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, is famous for its power lunches and celebrity sightings. When the pandemic struck in March 2020, Balthazar closed its doors, and soon after, McNally was hospitalized in London for COVID-19. He told The Daily Beast that doctors told him he had a 50% chance of dying.

Balthazar didn’t reopen again until March 2021, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted some restrictions on indoor dining capacity.

“Balthazar is too large an organization to survive with anything less than 50 percent capacity,” McNally said at the time, according to the New York Post.

But now that New York State has lifted “virtually all” COVID-19 restrictions, it seems things are back in full swing at the legendary eatery – complete with a wine-fueled increase in tips.