Keep the change: a restaurant without tips
July 30, 2013 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Jay Porter had two restaurants: one used the normal restaurant business model and one banned tipping servers, which gained national notoriety for a practice that is all but unheard of in the US. Now that the gratuity-free restaurant, The Linkery, is closed, he is writing about the ultimate experience and the reasons for doing it.

There are only a few examples of American restaurants that add a service charge for all patrons and fewer that ban all tipping. The origins are up for debate but experts have at least proven that a practice ostensibly to reward for good service is rarely about that service and more about who is tipping, who the server is, and tricks for getting a bigger tip. Even so, a new restaurant that inherited The Linkery’s old space couldn’t afford to keep the policy when some wanted to give more and alienated others who said the fee was too high.
posted by Kaiverus (54 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think at least your second and last links are broken.
posted by emkelley at 7:21 PM on July 30, 2013


[Fixed some links, let me know if you want to add the last link back.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:21 PM on July 30, 2013


The broken link was to this NYT article, which is also linked in the first blog post.
posted by Kaiverus at 7:26 PM on July 30, 2013


One of my favorite parts of travelling abroad is not tipping. It's wonderful to sit and eat without having to endure interruptions and inquiries about our experience...
posted by docpops at 7:34 PM on July 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


How about you pay servers a livable wage and do away with tipping altogether? On preview, I second docpops comment.
posted by photoslob at 7:36 PM on July 30, 2013 [27 favorites]


You'd have to raise the meal prices to raise the server's wages and then people would complain that the food's too expensive.
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the reasons I wasn't surprised to find the linkery closed was the food wasn't that great for the price and the service was mediocre. The 18% service charge had little to do with it. Americans are weird about tips and the service charge may have irked some.
posted by birdherder at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2013



You'd have to raise the meal prices to raise the server's wages and then people would complain that the food's too expensive.


Did you read the blog post? They set a service charge of 18%, average tips before that were 20-22%. It was cheaper, and better for all the employees except the waiters (who still did fine.)
posted by hap_hazard at 7:47 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


You'd have to raise the meal prices to raise the server's wages and then people would complain that the food's too expensive.

A burger generally costs between $1 and $30 depending on whether you step into the restaurant to your left, or the one on your right. (More often between $6 and $16). 18% is invisible in that noise. But the dining experience without all the tipping baggage: priceless.
posted by anonymisc at 7:47 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


These two posts were cool, but I get the impression there's more coming? "This is a summary of the experiences I had in our no-tipping lab, and in my next few posts I’ll dig a little deeper into each of them."

He has only good things to say so far, so that's cool. Makes sense to me--does anyone really love tipping? He didn't say anything like "...and so from now on, every restaurant I run will work in this way," though. Maybe that's in part 3?

My first question after reading all that enthusiasm for going tipless was "So why did you close your restaurant, then" but I guess the tip strategy didn't have anything to do with it?

"Which brings us back to closing the Linkery. I made that decision that we would do so, when it became clear to me that, given the changes in the market over the last few years, I was no longer the right person to maximize the value of the work that our people could do. In fact, it was clear just about any other manager would do a better job at it. And, while there are markets in which I know I can help make people’s work much more valuable, those markets are not in San Diego."

Not exactly the most specific of reasons, but for anyone else who was curious, that's what I found.
posted by a birds at 7:48 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was never a big secret that the reason the Linkery banned tips in favor of the service charge is that they weren't legally obligated to share any of the service charge with employees. There are hints of this in the second link.

I'm glad that the space has been taken over by some very cool people who are unlikely to continue such employee unfriendly practices.
posted by Anoplura at 7:49 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Did you read the blog post?

Yes I did and I'm not saying that it's rational but people would complain. They'll see the higher prices and not factor in the amount that they would have tipped.
posted by octothorpe at 7:50 PM on July 30, 2013


It was never a big secret that the reason the Linkery banned tips in favor of the service charge is that they weren't legally obligated to share any of the service charge with employees. There are hints of this in the second link.

"Our servers' total pay rose to about $22/hour, most of the cooks started making about $12-14 depending on experience, and the diswashers [sic, though I didn't notice it 'til Chrome underlined it] about $10."

Oh yeah, I kind of skimmed over that. Well, that's not really very impressive.
posted by a birds at 7:58 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


He claims that the server-kitchen relationship was "parasitic", because humans do what humans do. In that case, what prevents the owner-staff relationship from becoming "parasitic"?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:59 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why did they do a fixed service charge instead of just having higher menu prices?
posted by jeather at 8:06 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


: "Oh yeah, I kind of skimmed over that. Well, that's not really very impressive."

Most college graduates these days would jump at the chance to make that kind of dough. What wages do you think the restaurant staff should have been making, ideally?
posted by mullingitover at 8:11 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


@octothorpe

I would really like to hear from staff at The Linkery because the negative reviews that I have read from customers were about the wait staff and the fact that there was gratuity imposed on them, and it is really hard to parse out how much is consternation that they have no control and how much is legitimate complaints of staff. One newspaper writer did say there were two times there were glaring problems with the server, so it seems as though service started to slide after a few years.

@jeather

He said in the NYT interview I think that he didn't want to impose the fee on take-out customers.

@ a birds

I didn't make it clear but this is a series of a few blog posts, but how many I don't know. I am also curious as to why he closed both restaurants (the second was rebooted and closed a few months later at the same time as The Linkery) because he has been very ambiguous with all his statements.
posted by Kaiverus at 8:14 PM on July 30, 2013


But the dining experience without all the tipping baggage: priceless

I wish the majority of America agreed with you. But if there are two things that people love, they are: being fawned over and bargain food.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:14 PM on July 30, 2013


I went to French Laundry a few years back and it was the same way. No tipping. I'm pretty sure it's still open.
posted by jonclegg at 8:19 PM on July 30, 2013


Most college graduates these days would jump at the chance to make that kind of dough. What wages do you think the restaurant staff should have been making, ideally?

I dunno, I've never made such vast sums myself. I guess I expected more equitable distribution across the work categories (cook, server, dishwasher), but it's clear after a moment's thought why that's impossible.

Was there something about "not very impressive" that you felt was ungenerous...?
posted by a birds at 8:34 PM on July 30, 2013


Speaking as someone delivers pizzas, and who might make more money in tips than wages (I haven't worked it out) -- I'd much MUCH rather have the money in wages than tips. You're just that much less vulnerable to a string of jerks, it makes up for the chances of the occasional high tip. And I'd probably try to frequent a place that forbade tipping if I could be assured that they were paying their employees decently. If I had the money to eat in such places, of course.
posted by JHarris at 9:05 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only reason I like the tipping system is that it socially enforces the idea that a relatively high percentage of the total cost of services should go to the non-management employees providing the services. If I could tip 20% to the people involved with making my clothing I would, but because the process by which they get compensated is opaque and difficult for consumers to affect it can be pushed down to nearly nothing. A fixed tip at around what I generally tip anyway would be fine, but I would imagine that such a situation could easily devolve into a race to the bottom in terms of compensation in the industry as a whole.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:24 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


His blog is pretty good reading. It's just too bad there's not more of it!

The inverted pyramid for example, describes how he conceptualizes the relationship between management and workers.

Nobody knows anything - how we invent explanations for things that happen, with a connection to how we invent dreams.

As Colbert would say, it's "thought for food".
posted by etherist at 9:36 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been working as a waiter and bartender for close to six years now. I used to have regular office-type jobs, but since moving to a front-of-house (FOH) position (I was a cook previously for 2 years), I've found overall I love this type of work. The following is not exhaustive, but a good amount of what I've learned in my time doing this.

Servers break down into a few basic categories -

Young, good looking, college age, usually female - These servers are doing the job because they can flash a smile and possibly flirt a bit and make rediculous amounts of money at the right locations. Generally speaking these kids don't care if your order is wrong and know next to nothing about the food or drink they are serving.

Servers who are older, and still know nothing about food and beverage outside of their menu - These people have made serving their job, for at least the time being, if not a lifetime. You will often find these servers at established restaurants and bars that may really surprise you at how much the servers actually make. I've come across many servers that are quite well educated but would rather do this than whatever their degree would offer them for employment and are probably making more money. These people will care if something is wrong as this is their JOB.

The new guy or the burnout - either way something is going to go wrong with your meal. the new guy won't know why, or how to fix it, and the burnout won't care. Most like the serving gig is not their calling.

The professional - Usually only found at high-end establishments, these people are the reason tipping exists in this country. As we do not have a livable minimum wage for large swaths of service sector employees, and notoriously servers, these people have made serving or bartending their career. They care about what they are doing. About how you are doing. They know who wants to chat and who wants to be left alone. 'Reading' tables or people to determine this is second nature. They won't make a fool of you or laugh if you mis-pronounce an item, or order an odd wine pairing. In fact they probably know far more about food and wine than you might give them credit for. They make it their CAREER to know these things. They stop food going out to your table that looks wrong or is cooked incorrectly. They communicate with the kitchen and managers to make sure you're getting exactly what you asked for. When you go out for that special dinner, most likely you won't notice the attention to detail they are giving unless you know what to look for. When it pains you to leave that tip on a large bill, you're paying for that person's experience. the 3 other types of servers aren't likely to be getting jobs at the really high end places.

And that last part is really the crux of the matter, tipping wise. I do know of places (in America) that are frequented almost entirely by foreigners that rely on mandatory 18% service charges. Otherwise they could not get decent service staff whatsoever. Imagine any pleasant dining experience you've had. Now imagine it staffed by high school dropouts. Or people who are functionally illiterate. Or any given 16 year old. In many states, the minimum server hourly wage is as low as $2.13 an hour. That doesn't even cover the employees' taxes if they do make a whooping $8/hour with tip.

So here is what working in a tipped position offers me, in a country without subsidized or essentially free health care, a career without paid time off (which is huge, my last vacation cost me double - $1500 for the vacation, $1500 in wages and tips not earned), paid sick leave, or holiday pay: the chance to learn a lot of new things, the chance to meet and talk to people from all around the world, the chance to take my skills pretty much anywhere in the country, and the chance to make a decent living.

Ever since I moved to the FOH, I understand why people in the restaurant industry earn what they do. Years ago, cooks made about what they do now, and servers' hourly was a pittance. This imbalance pretty much evened out with tips. Over the last 30 years or so, cooks wages have been stagnant (along with many lower paid workers), while in some states, most notable the entire West Coast, servers have been given a decent hourly wage, ensuring that even the servers at very slow restaurants could eke out a living, and plate prices have risen with inflation, bringing up tips with them. This has created a rather large disparity in income between FOH and BOH.

However you feel about tipping, most likely you're getting what you pay for. If you're at a casual and inexpensive restaurant, and that 15-20% tip equals $3, the server was probably one of the first 3 types I listed. If that 15-20% tip is pushing $50, or even $100, it hurts, but most likely that server has been doing what they are doing for years and has honed their craft by slogging through any number of more menial and lower paid jobs, just like any other profession.

One other item to mention on tipping - I've never seen one place where the server is taking home their entire tip. Your tip is covering the bartender's service if you ordered alcohol, the busser's service of cleaning and re-setting the table, the host, if any, and hopefully money to the kitchen and dishwashing staff. A $20 tip to me, at my present job, after tip-out and taxes is really about $10 in my pocket. Everyone in this chain, except the cooks and dishwashers is likely making less than minimum wage hourly. If you want to save on tip, tip 15% in cash. I'll take that over 20% on a credit card slip any day.

Or start campaigning for mandatory federal minimum wage for servers and bartenders, national health care, and accept that restaurants will be closed on hollidays, etc, etc. Or move to every other country where this exists and feel good about not tipping.
posted by efalk at 9:58 PM on July 30, 2013 [33 favorites]


I went back to waiting tables a year ago (after 20 years or so of "real" jobs), and part of the reason I did so was because I have more control over how much I make this way. I make a hell of a lot more than $22 an hour, and no way would I want to work at a restaurant where management decided how much I got paid for my work. My tips reflect how well I actually do my job, not how well some manager perceives I'm doing it. I don't wait tables in order to make a "living wage", I do it because it's something I have a knack for and can make better than just a living wage. But your average kid working at Olive Garden would probably be better off with a salary.

And just for the record, in my state (and others) the legal minimum wage for servers is $2.14/hour. Taxes are deducted from that based on how much your tips are, which means that our paychecks are always for $0.00, and at the end of the year we owe money to the IRS. So take that into account when you are tipping the poor kid working at Olive Garden.

Upon preview: there's a lot of truth in what efalk said above. However in my restaurant, the amount I have to tip out to the other restaurant staff is based on how much I sold, not how much I made, so whether I got 10% or 30%, I still tip out the same amount. Which also means that if someone doesn't tip at all, I've just paid for the privilege of waiting on them, because I have to tip the other staff a percentage of what the meal cost even though I got nothing.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:22 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What is special about restaurant staff that they have to be motivated by tips to do a good job? Conversely, why do customers object to a predefined service charge in restaurants in particular?

The mechanic fixing your car, your dentist's assistant or your kids' teacher do not rely on an arbitrary tip from you to make a living, why are waiters any different?
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:37 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


You could also just get rid of wait staff entirely.
posted by meowzilla at 10:49 PM on July 30, 2013


He claims that the server-kitchen relationship was "parasitic", because humans do what humans do. In that case, what prevents the owner-staff relationship from becoming "parasitic"?

"becoming"?


What is special about restaurant staff that they have to be motivated by tips to do a good job? Conversely, why do customers object to a predefined service charge in restaurants in particular?

The mechanic fixing your car, your dentist's assistant or your kids' teacher do not rely on an arbitrary tip from you to make a living, why are waiters any different?


Part of the whole point of service staff is reminding middle-class people that they're better than somebody and giving them somebody whose lives are, however pettily, in their hands.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:00 PM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


From the second link: "The Linkery’s most transgressive act was not in implementing a service charge. Our most transgressive act was refusing to allow our guests to pay our servers anything more beyond the service charge — this is where the angry came out. A certain small number of very vocal men (and it was always men) resented that we were not letting them try to exercise additional control over our team members. This was true even though compelling research has shown that servers do not adjust quality of service as a result of tips; instead the idea that the restaurant was not offering our servers up as objects of control, was heresy."

The original NYT Magazine article also talked about these types of diners. The Linkery's GM says that he offers to remove the service charge if there's a problem, but "Almost always, the customers’ issue isn’t about the service but about not being able to handle their loss of control. ... But it’s funny what usually happens when a diner asks why they can’t tip more. ... We tell them we’re comfortable with what we charge for service, and they’re free to donate to our charity of the month. Most don’t.”

No idea if these experiences could be studied more in some way, but it's fascinating to read about.
posted by book 'em dano at 11:11 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Re. the freakonomics podcast transcript...
Here in Ontario, minimum wage for everyone is $10.25 (as of 2010), and liquor servers get $8.90 (anyone who serves alcohol as part of their job). I (woman) worked in the bars for a few years, and found that I usually got a $1 loonie tip (20%) on a $4.00 drink. Someone handed me a $5 bill, and they rarely asked for the loonie back - I always offered it anyway, some people (usually women) took it back. Learned to give quarters to the women, and they would give me 50 cents (10%) (which was better than nothing). When drink prices went up to $4.50, I only got 50 cents back from most people paying with a $5 bill. People paying with $10 got loonies and toonies (no bills), so I would usually get a coin back. Had to adjust my "making change abilities" to the cash-only climate. I definitely noticed makeup/clothing/attitude impacted tips, so I always tried to bring the A-game - meant more cash in pocket. Similar results in restaurant end of things.

End of the night, tips were shared between all servers and some other staff- which usually worked out, as some nights there were so few patrons that only the bartenders made cash.

Re. no tipping...
For this reason, I like to be able to tip - knowing that I am currently making within about a dollar wage of the waitstaff of a restaurant, I don't feel significant "guilt/responsibility" to tip at this point in my life. I usually provide a 20% tip for above/beyond service, 15% for standard, acceptable service, and so forth. The only times I have never tipped have been for completely lousy service, no water, failure to take down my order at all, etc.

So when a new restaurant opened up in town with a built-in 18% tip tacked onto the end of the bill (as stated on the sign), I expected that service would be a priority with the staff. Wow. Worst service ever. With the guaranteed tip in place, it seemed like apathy just set in. No one bothered showing up to seat guests, pour water, take orders, bring the bill - just an exercise in utter frustration. If I had pulled that stuff when waitressing, I would have been canned!
I would have been happier if the restaurant had just said "no tipping", and had built the automatic tip into their menu prices. That way, I wouldn't be walking out, resenting that I had just tipped people well for truly wretched service. For me, ignorance of an auto-tip would be bliss.

(I get that tips are absolutely necessary in places with horrendous minimum wage laws - sad to hear that's still going on.)
posted by NorthernAutumn at 11:57 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want to know why the restaurant closed, because people will be thinking that that's what happens when a restaurant bucks the system.

If you need to give the power-mad customers some satisfaction, I'd rather have everyone get paid a regular wage but let customers anonymously vote on their satisfaction levels. At payment time, the waiter hands you the bill and a pad with a simple questionnaire, then walks away to give you time to get the payment together and answer the questionnaire. You press a few buttons to say that your overall experience was 5/10, cleanliness was 3/10, the food was 5/10, the service was 7/10, etc.

If the restaurant tracked these ratings by who was responsible for that customer's experience that night (cooking, washing, cleaning, serving, managing), over time they'd be able to rate everyone on the staff, from management to cleaning, based on customer satisfaction. You could also have the system weight the ratings of repeat customers to adjust for some customers just generally being easier or harder to please, so you wouldn't be doomed if, for example, the same table full of assholes showed up every Wednesday night when you were working and rated everything a zero every time just because they were assholes with nothing better to do Wednesday nights.
posted by pracowity at 12:05 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I manage a non profit that includes a for profit restaurant.

We--like many local restaurants (in BC) have a mandatory grat for tables over six people. We also have a mandatory grat for catered events. These grats are taxable income and also creditable toward EI benefits, which was great for our lead server when she went on mat leave (50 percent of your taxable income is the rate you are paid on mat leave-- in our case we top EI mat leave up as well, also based on the taxable at payroll income so they end up with 80% of their payroll income) So for career servers having a set wage would be even better for such situations.

We can't legally have any rules about how tips are shared between serving and kitchen staff unless we collect it all and deduct payroll taxes (and pay matching contributions). So looking at concerns of th staff in tjis case I think its noteworthy that there is a significant benefit to the employer in relying on tips for a significant portion (half?) of the wage as it reduces their contribution to EI, & Canada Pension Plan.

Minimum server wage in BC is 10.25$/hr. Our best server can make $30hr when we are busy.
posted by chapps at 12:17 AM on July 31, 2013


Imagine 0% maternity leave. and 0% for the husband. Also imagine these people having a marriage and taking a honeymoon, 0% of their base income.

0%
posted by efalk at 1:58 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Part of the whole point of service staff is reminding middle-class people that they're better than somebody and giving them somebody whose lives are, however pettily, in their hands.

Your point perhaps.
My point is to do my job very well night after night and be amply rewarded for it by people who appreciate the service I provide.

Their pleasure, is in fact, mine.
posted by qinn at 2:41 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


The takeaway isn't the wages/tipping economics story.

It's the humans want to dangle money in front of other humans story.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:42 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


For restaurants that have an hourly wage for their servers and don't allow tips, why would anyone want to work Friday and Saturday night?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:09 AM on July 31, 2013


A paycheck?
posted by cjorgensen at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2013


Because they have to as part of their job? Mine requires that I go to the office every day.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:31 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


why would anyone want to work Friday and Saturday night?

Because your pay could be based on how much the place brings in during your hours.
posted by pracowity at 9:00 AM on July 31, 2013


If you need to give the power-mad customers some satisfaction, I'd rather have everyone get paid a regular wage but let customers anonymously vote on their satisfaction levels. At payment time, the waiter hands you the bill and a pad with a simple questionnaire, then walks away to give you time to get the payment together and answer the questionnaire. You press a few buttons to say that your overall experience was 5/10, cleanliness was 3/10, the food was 5/10, the service was 7/10, etc.

A relatively large number of restaurants already do this through optional paper or online surveys (especially chains that have high level managers that never set foot in the actual locations but still want metrics from them). Tipping is more or less a cash bonus for performance and I seriously doubt that good survey numbers result in significant cash bonuses for the non-management workers who are responsible for those good numbers. Personally I try to tip over what the average tip would be for any given server regardless of their performance so the survey thing would not really be any kind of comparable substitute, especially if the system was set to discount my always high ratings.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:55 AM on July 31, 2013


But the dining experience without all the tipping baggage: priceless.

Yes, yes, yes, this. Can we please get on board with the 20th century here? I'm so sick of this bullshit ancient Victorian power dynamic shuffle I have to deal with every time I go out to eat. That whole "dangle money in front of the staff" thing doesn't make me feel powerful, it makes me feel embarrassed. Come on, we're all just people here.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:23 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been to the Linkery a few times, and I'm curious as to why it's closing as well - I'm just speculating, but after reading an article in the local paper it sounded like ownership drama implosion, but only because they were extremely careful in their statements about closing to be extraordinarily vague, and the restaurant certainly wasn't having trouble drawing people in. The times I went, everything was perfectly fine, although a little expensive for the food, but you were paying for the ethos as well as the food.

When the place opened in '05, it was one of the only restaurants in town doing what it did - artisanally made food from local sources with as little adulteration as possible. They also started at the leading edge of San Diego's local craft beer wave and promoted that. All those things are quite commonplace with San Diego restaurants now, and you're just going to fail as an non-chain restaurant here if you don't have something like 5 local beers on tap.

The only time I had a problem there was when I went with my dad, who's diabetic and doesn't really care about how humanely treated his pigs are or whether they're from 60 miles away vs. 2000. Obviously, he can't drink alcohol; their only soft drink was Mexican Coca-Cola (has sugar instead of HFCS) so his beverage choices were limited to ice tea and water, basically because the restaurant wanted to be snooty. It also seemed really weird that the waitress was still selling us on the localness of our food as she was actually serving it to us, but that hasn't happened every time I've been there.
posted by LionIndex at 10:38 AM on July 31, 2013


Your point perhaps.
My point is to do my job very well night after night and be amply rewarded for it by people who appreciate the service I provide.

Their pleasure, is in fact, mine.


Uh... you don't need tips to be able to do a good job and take pride in your work. It's basic professionalism. Service-for-tips is the outlier, not the norm.

And you'll likely find that pleasurably rewarding professionalism easier without the tipping culture, because as the guy pointed out, part of tipping culture is that the people tipping you are made less inclined to view you as a professional.

Of course, given that you work for tips, it's preferable that you like your status quo - I'm not saying you're wrong to, just that the alternative isn't missing anything :)
posted by anonymisc at 11:32 AM on July 31, 2013


efalk: Or start campaigning for mandatory federal minimum wage for servers and bartenders, national health care, and accept that restaurants will be closed on holidays, etc, etc.

This works for me. When does the campaign start?
posted by kanewai at 12:16 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gasp, efalk, that's the F-F-F-French system! Zoinks!

Having spent a year as a server in France I actually think it would work even *better* in the US. Despite the nice living wage and free healthcare the service in France is notoriously bad, though a wee bit of tipping does actually occur at the hands of the (albeit EXTREMELY stingy) Parisians (tips which, it might satisfy you to know, I *always* shared evenly with kitchen staff even though I was neither obligated nor expected to). But the French are far less concerned with PR than we are, and doing your job well when you're a server here means exuding the Brand of your restaurant, be that the droopy-sad-failure ambiance at McDonald's, the I'm-so-happy-I-wish-I-were-dead atmosphere at a TGI Friday's or the genuinely-caring-about-food-and-your-enjoyment-of-said-food attitude of a farm-to-table establishment. Americans are great at Branding, so hire servers who are a good "fit" (as you would at any other company) and then pay them correctly for a job well done.
posted by Mooseli at 12:33 PM on July 31, 2013


What incentive do servers have to work at this restaurant? The pay is less than it would be at a comparative restaurant with normal tips.
posted by smackfu at 12:35 PM on July 31, 2013


Hip, trendy place in trendy neighborhood, probably doesn't frown on piercings/tattoos, ethos matches your political alignment somehow
posted by LionIndex at 12:43 PM on July 31, 2013


NorthernAutumn: “I (woman) worked in the bars for a few years, and found that I usually got a $1 loonie tip (20%) on a $4.00 drink.”

In what weird world is one dollar twenty percent of four dollars? I'd always thought that one dollar was twenty percent of five dollars. Have I been calculating tips wrong all these years? Are you supposed to add the tip and then calculate the proportion of the total amount you give to the server was the tip?

I mean – if so, then a 20% tip is actually 25% of the bill I am handed at the end of the meal. Isn't that weird? Again, have I really been looking at this wrong for 35 years?
posted by koeselitz at 3:19 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I guess at this point I'm going to start tipping 25%, just to be safe.)
posted by koeselitz at 3:22 PM on July 31, 2013


How about this then.
I suggest that the lot of you who are helpfully pointing out how I debase myself for tips, (who I doubt have had any experience in high level service*) should take a 20% paycut at your job and when you rightly complain about it, I will explain to you that a true professional should not care about these things. Tut-tut.
No one in this business will pay me what I now earn in this business. So, the issue simply drops down to you not liking how much I get paid. TFB.
I hear that crap about everyone from teachers to government employees, "blah, blah how dare somebody earn a decent living in a way that I do not approve".


* Wait! I shouldn't be making judgements about people whom I know nothing about.
posted by qinn at 4:15 PM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, koeselitz, you're correct. A $1 tip on a $4 item is a 25% tip.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 4:20 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Koeselitz - Lol, yep, you are right - silly me for trying to do math in the wee hours. It was indeed 25%. I always thought of it as receiving 20% of the $5 dollar bill itself. In the bar, the other waitresses and I always tried to exercise the full potential of a possible bill we got - you know, if you get a tenner for a $5 drink, you may get to keep the 5 - so that would be 50% tip of the money. Etc etc. Different way of looking at maximizing the potential for the tip, rather than the tip itself. I guess we were bored, haha - math games!
posted by NorthernAutumn at 9:50 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


WHERE'S MY DAMN SODA
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:54 AM on August 1, 2013


Today's new post about Sex, Power and Tips is very interesting.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:05 AM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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