Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees?

Season 6, Episode 5 This week on Freakonomics Radio:  We seem to have decided that ethnic food tastes better when it’s served by people of that ethnicity (or at least something close). Does this make sense — and is it legal? Host Stephen Dubner speaks with the owners of Elizabeth’s Neighborhood Table, which serves “thoughtful […]

Is It Okay for Restaurants to Racially Profile Their Employees? (Rebroadcast)

We seem to have decided that ethnic food tastes better when it’s served by people of that ethnicity (or at least something close). Does this make sense — and is it legal?

Should Tipping Be Banned?

Season 5, Episode 24

This hour of Freakonomics Radio is all about tipping. As we all know, the practice of tipping can be awkward, random, and confusing. What you might not know is that it is discriminatory, and according to at least one academic's research, correlates with corruption. We talk with a professor who has written over 50 papers on the subject.

Then, we explore the warped restaurant business model: kitchen wages are too low to hire cooks, while diners are put in charge of paying the waitstaff. So what happens if you eliminate tipping, raise menu prices, and redistribute the wealth? New York restaurant maverick Danny Meyer is about to find out.

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Appetizer: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

This week's episode of Freakonomics Radio is called “There’s No Such Thing As A Free Appetizer.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

It was inspired by an e-mail from a listener named Larry Tingen, a college math instructor:

My fiancee and I are avid listeners and lovers of Freakonomics. We were at a Mexican restaurant this weekend and the first thing that happens is we are given chips and salsa -- even before drink orders. Kelli asked me why I thought so many restaurants serve you free food (e.g. chips and salsa, bread, etc.) prior to taking your order? I couldn't come up with a good reason. To me, it seems to go against the restaurant's financial interest because most people will "fill up" on the free food, then order a smaller/cheaper meal. ... Does the free food make customers more likely to order meals that have a better profit margin? What's going on here?