The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Monday, October 31, 2005

Well Allow Me To Retort!

Well hello friends...

As you can see I like to stir the pot, both here and on message boards I hear about tipping. I had a post on it a few months ago but decided to try to see other's perspectives from both a staff and customer point of view.

So no it's not a cop out post...

These are my thoughts on the state of service in relation to tipping. About 2/3rds of those that commented prefer the system as it is.

I prefer it as well, though it has its down falls and I think at times I deserve more than I get, tipping is subjective.

I think I may have stated before and I know many that commented with me agree that under a service charge or check increase the server actually makes less.

Several people made a case for servers getting paid a living wage and while that intention is noble, well we all know what the road to hell is paved with.

An example would be Per Se in NYC. I've read about their system on both Bitterwaitress and Waiter Rant (Check them out if you haven't on my links).

Several private clubs in my area use the same system as well.

That would be a solid 18-20% Service charge on the bill, no option to not tip, and not much of an encouragement to tip.

Per Se did it because the owner/operator, Thomas Keller was a Chef by trade and didn't like the disparity between back of the house and front of the house wages. He went to a straight fee to divide the tip between the front and back of the house.

Now I did a little research and the type of restaurant is heads and tails above what most of my readers work at. Each dinner costs $210 per person, that is a significant price, thus nearly a $45 tip per person.

If half of that goes to pay for other salaries that does leave the wait staff with with a hefty amount in there pocket, Thomas Keller says he is doing it for his staff and to change the view on tipping in this country.

It's bullshit I say. He just wants to pay his kitchen out of the server's pocket rather than his own. Hell, you wait on just 10 people a night 5 nights a week that is a bit of change you'll get, but remember that living in NYC isn't cheap either.

I have had several friends of mine work in private clubs with a similar system. Here's how it goes. They get paid 18%, but it all goes through payroll and that's where the server gets screwed. Very little stands in the way of an owner lining his pockets with that service charge. In all cases that I have heard of they do just that.

Since everything is on tab they are paid for with credit cards, the owner makes the staff pay the credit card service fee out of their own pocket, so you're down to 15% right off the bat.

Then they pay the support staff, bussers, hosts, food runners...

Out of your tips as well.

Then you're down to 10%.

Then you get your paycheck, maybe it's $10-12 an hour, and there's no accounting for what the owner keeps for profit on top of that. Since its a service charge collect by the owner technically he is only obligated to pay minimum wage, so it technically isn't stealing or bilking the staff due to technicalities.

That is the main reason I'm against a service charge, you pay the same amount with the staff receiving as little of it as possible, and it quickly would go that way in other restaurants.

What of the good owners and managers you say, surely a businessman wouldn't screw over his own employees would he?

For money??

Turn on your TV, it happens everyday with pensions, 401k's, stock options, hell how many of you have lost your job or know someone who has because it was outsourced overseas?

All for money, you really think taking a kid's tip is anywhere in the same league as the money that is gained by things like that? Well it adds up, and any CEO of a chain restaurant would take that $5 you left on the table from that college kid or single mom if it meant his stock would go up 1/8th of a point.

I'd rather get screwed by the occasional asshole customer that with every table that walks in the door by an asshole owner that wants to pay the staff out of my pockets, which by the way are considerable more shallow than his.

So that's my position on why I want to work under the tipping system. Many of you made interesting comments and on teh next post I'd like to respond to several of them, I'll have it up in the next day or so...

Plus this is a bonus, many comments were made on how much you should tip and on what kind of service, as a waiter I have my opinions as well an will relay those!

Secret Server


At 12:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, in general, with your post here. However, I think the incentive is there also for servers to not pay taxes on most of their tips, which I think is crap (the rest of us have to pay taxes on everything we make).

Please notice I used "their tips". You used "there" in your post- "in there pocket" (shudder). Please learn how to use English. You might get better jobs, or fewer anonymous people complaining about your shitty writing! (not "you're shitting writing"!!)

At 12:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...'re right. Maybe as many as 1-2% of business owners screw their employees in one way or another.

Having never owned a business, you are sure quick to lump us all in the same shitpile.

At 2:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

seriously, fuck off if you think the main point here is if I fuck up on a point of grammer.

And every person I know who has worked for a establishment that has a service charge has been screwed out of what they earned. Also if I did own my own business I would always treat my emloyees fairly and not make a profit out of what is owed to them, such as make them pay a credit card fee out of their own tips (notice I said their, not there)

Are you happy?


At 1:23 PM , Blogger Sondra said...

Sheesh, Insane, why are people so mean to you? What does grammar have to do with finding a good job these days? There's always spell check and and editor and shit. I am not one who has ever had a problem with spelling but I knew what he idea Insane meant to convey. Leave him alone, for fuck's sake.

At 1:24 PM , Blogger Sondra said...

P.S. I just reread my post. It was stupid but I hope I made my point and made SOMEONE laugh and go, "What the hell did she just say?"

At 1:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding you statement
"taking a kid's tip"
A large number of servers are not "KIDS" and they make more money per hour worked than most office workers. I would say a part time server at most resturants can haul in around 30 to 50K a year (remember not full-time)!!

At 1:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting tipped is a great racket...
We are made to feel obligated and we should not be obligated!! I would rather get and order my own food rather than have some greedy waitperson kissing my ass for money.

At 1:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waiters are just hustlers or scammers living off of crums that we throw them. But if we don't throw big enough crums,WATCH OUT!! They get all PISSED!!

At 4:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you two are destined for a life of reheated Banquet t.v. dinners. Perhaps a buffet would be right for you?

At 4:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting (and predictable) that the waiters/waitresses feel that the tip system is better. Twenty years ago, 10% was a good tip, then waiters would have you believe that 20% is the base for adequate service. I don't hear anyone making the point that as food prices rise, so does the amount of the tip...and when you increase the percentage also, servers are cleaning up...and we're sure that the fact that they'd be paying taxes on all of their income has a bit to do with it! I'm sure that any decent server in a mid to high-end restaurant would want to keep the tip system (high prices = high tips generally). Also, have you noticed that whenever the Server speaks of receiving a low tip, it's always because the customer was cheap? Never that the service was bad.

At 9:28 PM , Blogger Sketchy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who the hell do you think you are taking a stab at diner servers? I personally serve at a local diner and I feel that my service is far superior to that of the average commercial sever working at the Olive Garden having someone else run their food from the kitchen, mix their drinks, clean their tables etc. Several affluent customers have said I have given them the best service they have ever had. So get off your high horse and kiss my ass.

At 9:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason the tip should go up to 18 to 20 % is because, for the last 20 years we are still only making 2.35 an hour!
Its called a cost of living allowance. Everyone else gets one .


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