It’s much like the 2 to 4 dollar fuel surcharge tacked on to almost every delivery that comes in the restaurant now days. When we shop for purveyors by the lowest price on dairy, meat, or what have you they can keep the cost to appear lower, retain our business, and then make up their own cost with the surcharge.]]>
Brett- Thanks, and this talk of mandated benefits is news to me. Do they simply have to offer benefits at a cost to the employee, pay half, or pay the full amount?
I hate the idea of tacking a service charge onto the end of the bill. To me things like this should be absorbed in the over all cost of the menu. It’s like the fuel surcharge I now see on all my delivery invoices. 3 dollars per delivery. I would rather see it absorbed blindly than feel nickle and dimed to death.]]>
I agree with your viewpoint entirely. Every employee of the restaurant, from the dishwasher on up, contributes to the service experience and deserves a portion of the tip pool. Service is a team effort. Unfortunately, in California at least, the law sees things differently. I don’t know how the law is interpreted in your state, but in California tips are officially the property of the server who receives them, not the restaurant. Legally, restaurants cannot dictate a policy mandating or even suggesting how the server distributes those tips with other restaurant staff. Granted, many restaurants thankfully ignore this law and encourage servers to share a small portion of their tips with cooks and dishwashers. Unfortunately, the government (I forget which branch oversees this) is cracking down on restaurants that do this.
The only way around the law is to do what the Laundry, Chez Panisse, Coi and a few other Bay Area restaurants do. They tack on a “service charge” of 18-20%. Service charges are legally different from tips. They become the property of the restaurant. The management can then distribute the tips in a more equitable manner. It’s kind of a bummer that it has to be done this way, because it leaves open the possibility of abuse from greedy owners. But, so long as the process is open and transparent and their is some oversight, it can work. Some San Francisco restaurants are adding smaller service charges to help cover the cost of the newly mandated benefits for restaurant workers. But that’s another more complicated issue and I’ve gone on long enough. Keep on writing your excellent behind-the-scenes viewpoints!]]>
P.S. For less bitchy commentary on tip-sharing (and I will now be listing the above post among my favorites in that category), I really like The Linkery’s “About Our No-Tipping Policy” and their Q & A pages on the subject.]]>