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Old 08-19-2005, 03:43 PM   #11
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I do understand both sides and its a hard one, I find it hard to expect tips because I have had Great food and service and I love to tip then, But when the service very poor to expect me to tip is somewhat unfair. I think if servers understood tips for good service that is what they would give.

Now this is what I believe to be true, We are to serve each other as if we were serving the Lord, If we did that the money thing would take care of itself.
I am not pushing anything here we just need to respect each other for who we are.
You will never get respect until you give respect!

Raine is so true, Most Restaurants have to work on a tip basis to get work. One of Barbara and my daughters is a server. Servers should be held to good service though just like anyone at a job!
I was a Packaging Manager at a Newspaper for years and always told my employees "I do not Fire you, you Fire yourself ! " I still believe That!
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:33 PM   #12
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I do agree about having the power to control the tip according to the quality of service, but I also agree about having the need tp protect the staff from guests who don't tip. That being said, restaurants like Per Se and French Laundry pride themselves on their service as much as their food so more than likely, the chances of receiving bad service is most likely almost nil. In high end restaurants, because they almost always give great service, the service charge is to protect the staff against stiffs from foreign travelers or uneducated guests who don't tip. A cook's salary is pretty much guaranteed as long as he is on the clock for his scheduled time. A waiter's however, is not. He could serve a party of 4 people, but because it is not customary to tip where they are from, the server gets $20 on a $400 tab. Most restaurants charge an automatic gratuity for parties of 6-8 or more, but charging for parties of any amount protects the service staff from losing out on cheap, uninformed, or uneducated guests. While a guaranteed tip can create complacency, this will most likely happen only in mid to low range restaurants, such as an Outback Steakhouse, Cheesecake Factory, etc. The majority of waitstaff that I know in high end restaurants take a lot of pride in their service. Management will not and should not tolerate apathy with their waitstaff, especially even more so in a place such as Per Se or French Laundry. You can bet that in those places, guaranteed tip or not, the FOH staff is constantly under pressure to perform because one bad experience can lead to thousands in lost revenue due to word of mouth advertising. Restaurants of that caliber cannot depend on walk-ins or on stictly volume like an Olive Garden can, so even more so they cannot afford any type of bad publicity which can adversly affect their reputation.

I do not agree with the excuse of trying the equalize the FOH and BOH pay since waiters make more than cooks, because no one is holding a gun to the cook's or dishwasher's head and forcing them to do what they do. If they want to try and become a waiter or busser than by all means, they are free to do so. Most often times, they do not have people skills or they are afraid to, or do not like to talk to strangers face to face. They may not even have sufficient language skills to be a waiter or busser. As a cook, your salary is pretty much set as long as you work 40 hours a week. As a waiter, your salary can fluxuate depending on business and the guests. You could be busy all night but end up with a section full of guests who just stiff you. What most people also don't realize is that a waiter also gets taxed on his sales, which is then taken out of the hourly portion of his paycheck. Most waiters will end up with a paycheck of $0.00. Anything and everything they make will depend stictly on their tips.

Regarding incentive for waithelp, it does not or should not matter if they do or do not realize what a guest will tip them, or if they do not find out until the end of the meal. In their mind, the good ones know that their service will affect the outcome so they work accordingly. Some waiters will pre-judge a guest based on ethnicity, English skills, etc. and it may affect their service but I think that most waiters go to every table with the mindset that if they take care of a guest, hopefully that guest will take care of them as well. If you find that this is not the case, then most likely that person is just a bad waiter or they shouldn't be in their current profession. Don't blame the system, blame the individual. There are bad lawyers, bad doctors, bad police officers, bad actors, etc.

Raising the prices and incorporating that into the waiters tips is also a bad idea, from both a marketing and accounting standpoint. How are you going to explain to a guest that your filet mignon is $60 while the filet at Charlie Palmers is $44? You can't give an honest explanation because that is just too tacky. What about for those guests who walk by the restaurant and browse the menu? Unless someone explains the reasoning to them, they will just take one look at it and walk right by. You could put up a sign but again, that would be tacky. More imporantly, on the accounting side of it, how would you do it without taxing both the restaurant and server for the 20% added increase if it's supposed to go to the tip? Because it is all lumped together, it would be a mathematical nightmare to have to allocate and distribute the tips from the sales every night. Plus, you can't pay out the waitstaff every night because you won't have enough cash on hand. Most people are not going to bring wads of $100's to Per Se, or a similar type restaurant. They're going to pay by credit card. You could always keep a running cash bank but then you'd always be at a loss since you'd be paying out the staff every night and it would make things difficult to balance. It could be done, by why bother? Restaurants are hard enough as it is to run, you definitely want to keep it simple.

Regarding paying everyone a set amount and doing away with tips, that will never happen for two reasons. One, labor costs. Why pay the waistaff a set high amount of $$ per hour when they can get tips? You can then pay the BOH staff more since you only have to pay the waiters/bussers minimum wage. Second, the IRS makes more off waiters tips than they would off an hourly wage, and even more so when they audit someone because they lied about their declared tips.

This may sound harsh, and is NOT directed to any individual but to rather as a whole, and keep in mind that is assuming you DO receive good or great service: If a person has that many issues about tipping, which as a result makes them tip less than they should or not at all, then they shouldn't eat out at places that incur gratuity.
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:45 PM   #13
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pdswife, because you listed everything it will make your points or questions a lot easier to answer so thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdswife
So, can someone tell me why it is harder to serve a party of 8 that are all
sitting at one table than to serve 8 people sitting all over the place? I'm not sure who gave you this idea, but is not easier to serve a party that is sitting all over the place, mainly because you don't want to take a table from another waiter's section because you'll be taking their money as well. The only thing I can think of is that the staff is too lazy to pull tables together. It is easier in the sense that the tables in your section will stay the same and you won't have to adjust. The hardest thing is pulling the tables together and then splitting it apart later. However, it is easier to serve say, a party of 16 broken up into two tables of 8, rather than one large table. I've never understood why guests WANT that big of a table. You can't hear or talk to most of the other guests anyway.
I've never really
understood that. I used to hostess at a resturant and often ended up serving the drinks, salads, soup, setting and clearing tables (all against the rules according to the big boss man but, someone had to do it!!) It was much easier for me to clear one table than three.

Anyway... I hate tipping.
But, I do it because it's expected.
I start out going in to the rest. with the intention of tipping well but, as the quality
of service goes down so does the amount of the tip.
A few things that make the amount of tip change are...
1. I always order hot water with lemon.. no lemon the tip goes down.
if they bring the HOT water in a water glass, the tip goes down YES, it does
happen. Wow. That should never happen. Period. What kind of restaurant was it, and did you bring it to the management's attention? I'll bet money that the management did not know that that was happening. Most likely it was only a particular waiter. If it was a restaurant standard, then I'd say stay away.
2. Paul always gets either cold water or pop. And gets refills very easily. If they
bring me more hot water the tip goes up, if he ignores me it goes down. Hot water may not be refilled automatically, but it should still be asked. Better restaurants will bring you a tea pot with hot water and leave it on the table for you.
3. I always ask for my salad dressing to be put on the side if it arrives on top
of my salad, the tip goes down. Could go both ways. Either the waiter forgot to specify, or the pantry cook did not read the ticket. Or, someone else took your order. But if the waiter was good, he'd have recognized it before hand.
4. I like nice a nice waitstaff but.. if they sit down to chat while taking my order
the tip goes down. I want to talk with my husband or friends not a stranger. This should not happen at mid-rage to high end restaurants. That is tacky.
5. If I hear the waiter talking about how much he hates his job or if he complains to
me in anyway the tip goes down. That should not happen period. Let management know right away.
If on the other hand he says something nice about his work or the people he
works with the tip goes up.
6. If the place is busy and the waiter keeps up even if we have to wait a bit longer
the tip goes up. BUT, if there's not many people and I see the waiter hanging
hangiing around doing nothing and we have to wait down goes the tip. That happens in every restaurant but at least you can recognize the difference. There are people who can't even tell if the restaurant is super busy, but still want to be treated as if they are the only guest in there.

I'm sure there's more but that's what I can think of right now.
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironchef
pdswife, because you listed everything it will make your points or questions a lot easier to answer so thank you!
Originally Posted by pdswife
So, can someone tell me why it is harder to serve a party of 8 that are all
sitting at one table than to serve 8 people sitting all over the place? I'm not sure who gave you this idea, but is not easier to serve a party that is sitting all over the place, mainly because you don't want to take a table from another waiter's section because you'll be taking their money as well. The only thing I can think of is that the staff is too lazy to pull tables together. It is easier in the sense that the tables in your section will stay the same and you won't have to adjust. The hardest thing is pulling the tables together and then splitting it apart later. However, it is easier to serve say, a party of 16 broken up into two tables of 8, rather than one large table. I've never understood why guests WANT that big of a table. You can hear or talk to most of the other guests anyway.

ironchef,

Maybe I'm the one who read it wrong, but I think what pdswife was getting at was the line on menus that says that a tip will be automatically added to parties of 8 or more. I've always wondered about that too. The only thing I can think of is that they are worried that they won't get as large a percentage with a larger group.

Barbara
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by htc
"The owners of those restaurants are making huge profits," said Guilfoyle. "If you have these huge checks and these huge tips, why can't Keller afford to pay his staff more?"
Too bad Mr. Guilfoyle is not a discusscooking.com member so that he can see my answer this question. There is a reason why he is an instructor and not in the industry anymore. You know that old saying right?

"Those who can do. Those who can't teach teach education."
--Nicolas Martin

Mr. Guilfoyle here is a lesson on restaurant management for you:
  • 1. Food Costs. Keller is dealing with ingredients such as truffles, foie gras, sea urchin, osetra and beluga caviar, kobe beef, matsutake mushrooms, etc. With those kinds of high end items, you cannot expect to charge guests with a reasonable food cost (say 30-34%) and expect them to pay $40 for an appetizer. You also have to charge according to competition and what the market is willing to pay for.
  • 2. Labor Costs. Keller uses way more pantry, line, and prep cooks than an average restaurant because of the amount of time and prep used in his dishes. He can only pay them so much before the labor eats away into a significant amounts of his profits.
  • 3. Overhead. This isn't McDonald's. Per Se more than likely goes through a huge amount of linen, candles, etc. not to mention costs to upkeep and to keep the restaurant looking clean and presentable. We're not talking about vinyl chairs here. Oh, and by the way, the restaurant is located in Manhattan. I can't even imagine what his rent costs must be. The restaurant also is probably nowhere near close to paying off the initial costs for equipment, china, stemware, etc. You know that their wine vault is top notch and that Keller is going to be using the finest ranges, salamanders, stand mixers etc. not to mention nifty gadgets like cold smokers and a pasta machine. There's also water, electricity, gas, recycling, etc.
Wow, you'd expect an instructor for the prestigious () CIA to be able to answer this question for himself.
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbara L
[/i]
ironchef,

Maybe I'm the one who read it wrong, but I think what pdswife was getting at was the line on menus that says that a tip will be automatically added to parties of 8 or more. I've always wondered about that too. The only thing I can think of is that they are worried that they won't get as large a percentage with a larger group.

Barbara
No, she was referring to the actual servicing of the group. That's why she talked about how it is harder to clear and reset three tables than it is for one.
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:34 PM   #17
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Ok, my mistake.

Barbara
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:34 PM   #18
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I have a problem with 'required' tipping. How is that different from a surcharge? I agree that food service personnel should receive a liveable wage. I think it's completely inappropriate to pay someone less than minimum wage with the belief/expectation that it will be supplemented by tips.

Additionally, I believe that tipping should be a reward for exceptional service that should go directly to the individual for whom it was intended. A lot of places require that all tips be placed into a common pool that is divided evenly at the end of the shift.
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:40 PM   #19
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Gosh what a minefield! We don't tip much here at all, you can if you want to but its not expected which make sit a lot easier.
I didn't realise that in the US they relied on tips to make a basic wage. Why can't the restaurant just charge more for their meals? I don't regard it as tipping if its mandatory- that seems like a surcharge to me. We do have surcharges for public holidays and in some places Sundays to make up for the higher pay rate staff gets on these days.
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsmac
Why can't the restaurant just charge more for their meals?
Because the U.S. economy sucks and the power of the U.S. dollar is worth about 7-10 times less than it was 50 years ago. Think about it: In 1955, a family of four could survive and live well with only the husband working, and with the wife as a homemaker. They could send their kids to college, have a car, a televsion set, own a home, and live comfortably well.

In 2005 we have a family of four, the parents both working, say pulling in a combined $80,000. They still live month to month on their paychecks, their kids need financial aid and scholarships to attend college, and they rent rather than own a home because the cost of living is too high.

Restaurants can't charge more because most people wouldn't be able to afford it.
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