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Old 08-23-2005, 01:04 AM   #91
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OK everyone, I just saw this thread and haven't read all of it just yet, but having spent a good deal of time working as service staff I can offer something from this point of view.

I know that a lot of people feel that waitstaff should just recieve a set wage. There's a few reasons I disagree with this. First of all, any waitstaff that is only at their job as a temporary employment type deal, won't try as hard to please their customers. But when you offer them a chance to basically work on comission, it's a different ballgame. The people that are really affected by recieving a set wage or not is the career waitstaff. You can always tell who the career waiters and waitresses are because they have a routine, and that routine always involves go way above and beyond their expectations. Career waitstaff are rewarded for their hard work- they get the best sections, they have customers request their service when they come to dinner, and a lot of times they often become managers of some form or another.

Another reason I think tipping is great is that the waitstaff make WAY more money than they ever would. The first restaraunt I ever worked at, waiters made about $2.13 and hour. After taxes, many of them recieved their payroll in the amount of 34 cents. The good news, is that when you added the money they made from tips, and averaged it hourly, it was often better than $10 and hour. I know that no restaraunt manager would pay their waitstaff that much (at your average $10-$15 plate restaraunt). Even the busboys went home with nearly $10 and hour after our tips.

That's not even the best news though. Some nights are special, and on special nights you can expect to make ****loads of money!! The steakhouse I worked at seatsour entire restarunt, plus 3 banquet halls to capacity for the entirety of mother's day, father's day, new year's, and valentine's day. The mexican restarunt I worked at sold 1/2 off margaritas every wednesday night, and had a live band, and extended their usual bar hours to as late as 4AM. A busboy that stayed till the end of the night could easily go home with $70 in his pocket, and the bartenders, $300-400. Cinco de Mayo, was a whole other story. We would usually handle anywhere from 4000-6000 people on Cinco de Mayo. It was basically guaranteed that bartenders would go home with nearly $1000 on Cinco de Mayo. Point is, there are great ways to make money on tips, b/c the restaraunt creates opportunities for the staff.

Finally, sometimes people like being generous! I remember a night where I got tipped $25 from a guy for checking basketbll scores for him, because he had a bet on the game. He won and was ecstatic, and I benefitted from that. Near the end of my stay at the mexican restaraunt, a new waitress was hired, and her first night alone was a normally slow night, but for some reason, we were on an hour+ wait in the middle of the week. She was freaking out, and since I still knew my way around better than she did, I gave her alot of extra help that wasn't required of me. She was basically stuck in a triple section, so I would start taking orders for her, brought out food for her, refilled tons of drinks for her, on top of my usual stocking glasses, napkins, and silverware, plus bussing all of those tables. Many of the tables tipped me directly, as well as the waitress, and at the end of the night, the waitress had made so much money, that she tipped me nearly 1/2 of what she earned!

I know the system can fail sometimes, and it can certainly leave its victims sore, but most of the time it works, and thats really the most you can ask, because nothing's perfect.

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Old 08-23-2005, 01:04 AM   #92
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Thats what I am talking about Mish ! But I have to admit I am in Grits Country and they aren't my favorite food! Sometime ask Barbara why I don't like Grits!

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Old 08-23-2005, 08:30 AM   #93
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Ok. for those who think waitstaff should be paid a salary like everyone else. Look at it from both sides.

1. From the waitstaff's side.
2. from the owner's side.

Let me put figures to it to maybe help.
1. waitstaff---make an hourly wage of 2.15 + tips.
waitress works 28 hours @ 2.15 = $60.20 tips = 237.00, which comes out to $10.61 an hour.

Now if we were paying that same waitress $6.00 an hour that would come to $168.00 (then take taxes out of that) for 28 hours.

2. from the owners side in example 1, the owner only has $60.20( plus taxes) to pay out of his profit, vs the $168.00(plus taxes).

Also remember that the taxes the employee pays, the owner has to match. So now the $168.00 becomes 168.00 + what ever the taxes were. anywhere from about $25.00 and more, depending on the salary and the deductions. Plus, if a company employs more than 3 full time employees, they have to pay workman's comp (which is very expensive).

In the above examples, everyone makes less money. Increase the price to cover the loss, then the customer leaves with less money.

Then there are the food costs. Also remember, in the food industry there can be a lot of waste, and food that has to be thrown away. Most other industries don't have that problem. Make a pie, after 3-5 days it goes in the trash if any is left over (there went costs & profit). Make a couch, and you can keep it until it sells.

In restaurants , it is hard to know how to prepare, as you never know the volume of your business from day to day.
Also with eating out, when the economy turns rough, people cut out things they can do without. And eating out is up at the top of the list.

So, if we pay our wait staff $10 an hour, an order of fries might be $5.00.
Are you willing to pay $5.00 for an order of fries?
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Old 08-23-2005, 08:39 AM   #94
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Originally Posted by Raine
Are you willing to pay $5.00 for an order of fries?
LOL In the Northeast that is not out of the realm of possibility
You know you can't resist clicking
this link. Your eyes will thank you. VISUAL BLISS
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:49 AM   #95
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Quick question for those in the food industry...when we talk about a server getting less than min. wage does this go across to all locations? i.e. Dennys vs. a restaurant that serves entress for $25+? I've always thought that servers at higher end restaurants ALWAYS get paid a lot of $$ since they have more opportunity to get tipped higher. Am I wrong? Or is that about right?

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Old 08-23-2005, 12:27 PM   #96
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Perhaps another way to go/solution for Restaurant-Industry employees is to become Unionized. Guessing owners might not "buy" it or like it. (Please don't throw your spatulas at me.)

If I may express, from a patron's point of view, some observations, re tips/gratuities, etc.

Tipping, for me, is never about revenge or being in control. I would like to have the say control over how I spend my money, as I see fit. Because I mentioned I have not dined out in a while, really means nothing. I was a great eater-outer over the years, & have not seen any remarkable changes from this side of the table. (Unless I take into account the change in laws re smoking & having to alter my lifestyle -- but that's in part a different topic.)

Now, as a patron re tipping/gratuity (an Andy Rooney moment, if you will):

I picked an establishment I'd like to dine in, called & made a reservation (not all restaurants take reservations) & I arrive on time. I'm (on occasion) told I have a 20-minute wait & can wait in the restaurant's bar area. Now I've tipped the bartender of the establishment. (Think I've already mentioned on occasion there is a restroom attendant, requiring a tip.) If I drove to the restaurant & there is no ample self-parking space nearby, I pay for valet parking & tip the valet. Forgive my ignorance here, but should I tip the Maitre Di (spelling sorry)? & a corkage charge? If I recall, tax is added into the bill as well...and the tax here is approximately 8%.

Bottom line is, I try to allow a budget for my dining out experience, but please allow me to tip as I see fit. Hope this doesn't offend any one.

I have no solution as to how to make everyone happy. If you own your own business & don't have enough funds to pay a staff, perhaps rethink the whole situation & brainstorm with folks in your biz.

An afterthought - Vegas is a whole different ball game. The food & hotels are very inexpensive, because, my guess is, monies are made up for (lack of better description) in the casinos.
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Old 08-23-2005, 12:47 PM   #97
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And then the unions will put the restaurants out of business, just like the auto, airline industries, etc.

Unions are good when they are used to protect the employees from abuse, but unions usually go overboard and want to make demands that are really unfair to the owners.

Example: My first husband worked for a union. Some days they had a lot of work and worked overtime. The next day or next week, there may be days they came home early.
The last contract they signed, it was stated that anything over 6 hours in one day would be overtime (regardless if they had 40 worked hours for the week or not).
Even tho that rule benefited our family, I never thought it was fair.

Most in the biz pay just like everyone else. Wait staff works for tips.

Know how much it costs to start a restaurant? Know how much food costs are. Most restaurants try & hope to keep food costs at 30% or below and that is very hard. So out of the other 70% you have labor costs, utlilties, taxes, paper products, cleaning products, equipment or equipment repairs, rent, advertizing and any services you may be paying for, i.e. linen service, dishwasher rental.

My husband used to complain about the cost of food when dining out at some places. Now, he thinks if you can get a meal or entree for less than $10 each, you are getting a good buy.
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Old 08-23-2005, 01:10 PM   #98
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Sorry, Raine, don't agree. Unions should be there to protect employees. If they're not doing their job, they can be voted out. In my industry, we are all members of a union & the union locals are broken down into different catagories. Everyone from producers/directors/screen actors & mail room employees are unionized & have rights. Teamsters have a union too, no? If you want to see some changes, try to come up with a different game plan & keep the mind open to new ideas. We've all worked long hours & sometimes compensated, sometimes not...but for me, in part was a passion for what I do, & in paying my dues, theoritically having a system that should ensure everyone is compensated and treated fairly.
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Old 08-23-2005, 01:22 PM   #99
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My first husband was a member of the teamsters union, and the company went out of business, shortly after the overtime after 6 hours a day contract.

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