RestaurantTip

A handful of local restaurants are planning to get rid of tipping, opting instead for a 20 percent service charge that would be automatically included on the bill. The restaurant owners say it would help spread the revenue more evenly amongst waiters and cooks, while critics say it reduces the incentive to provide good service.

Guests:
Gwyneth Borden, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association
Thad Vogler, co-owner of Bar Agricole and Trou Normand, two San Francisco restaurants switching from tips to a required surcharge
Saru Jayaraman, author of "Behind the Kitchen Door," co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley
Louis Riviere, has worked as a server and bartender for the last 20 years

  • thucy

    “The teams behind the five restaurants cited two sources of inspiration: Chez Panisse, which has long had a standard gratuity, and San Diego restaurateur Jay Porter….”

    I could be wrong, but is it not true that Chez Panisse had, at the time it set the standard 20% gratuity, a system wherein staff had some profit-sharing in the restaurant, along the lines of a co-op? If this is true, then it rather changes the discussion. I doubt that any of the “teams” behind the five restaurants have profit-sharing for their staff. Allegedly, Waters’ profit-sharing is what in turn prompted so many of her “children” (a.k.a. her former staff) to be able to graduate into their own businesses, some of which were also co-ops, but all of which have been incredibly high-quality, and which feed back into Chez Panisse (e.g. Acme Bread.)
    A casual glance at any of the special-edition luxury cars owned by so many nouveau local restaurant owners – and the minimum wage proffered to the brutally hardworking kitchen staff often operating in unsafe conditions – might indicate that, rather than imposing additional fees on the customer, restaurant owners might mimic Waters and kick back a wee bit of their own profits if they are truly interested in staff equity (which let’s be frank, they are not.)

    Of course, none of this will be relevant once the tech bubble pops, and restaurant owners come groveling back to their customers. You gotta laugh…

  • How about no “surcharge” and no schemes. Although I worked as a server and a bartender for 15 years, I think it’s a terrible system and it’s spreading. Every type of business feels it’s ok to have a tip jar now. Businesses are happy to have their patrons guilted into subsidizing their employees. Restaurants and other businesses should pay a fair wage and price accordingly. Listen to the Freakonomics podcast on tipping. Food for thought. http://freakonomics.com/2013/06/03/should-tipping-be-banned-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/

    • thucy

      I agree that customers should not be subsidizing wages, but implementing a standard 20% gratuity is not resolving that issue, merely cementing it.
      As for the points about tip inequities put forward in the Freakonomics link you provided, let’s not be naive. Those inequities reverberate in almost every US industry. Unfair compensation and hiring is EXACTLY why women with graduate degrees working in corporate offices (and even some men, sadly) are getting Restylane injections to hide their age. It’s why the non-merit-based finance sector is dominated by white males (and we taxpayers are highly subsidizing that industry, and never by choice, whether you’re aware of it or not) and conversely why the corps of young physicians (a merit-based system) are increasingly female and minority.
      I’m not saying resraurants don’t also need reform, but brother, you are reaching for some low-hanging fruit.

      • Bob Fry

        Customers pay for everything in a business, including wages, so of course they “subsidize” wages.

        • thucy

          Tell me, Bob:
          Do you pay for all of the petroleum in your gasoline? Or is it subsidized by my tax dollar? If I eat a tortilla, am I paying the full cost? Or is corn subsidized by other taxpayers? Customers do not “pay for everything in a business.” Not by a mile. You know better.

      • ES Trader

        Define non-merit based finance sector, specifically what positions? Commissioned financial sales or investment bankers, analysts and traders all of which are merit-based.

        The only jobs in financial services that are non-merit based are clerks, tellers and customer service all of which traditionally and currently are mostly female.

        • thucy

          As a former banking sector employee, I disagree. I’d add that the reason the sciences were disproportionately populated by Jewish Americns in the early 20th century, and Asian Americans in the late 20th century through today, is that finance – nearly every sector of it – has traditionally been restricted and discriminatory. Some barriers have broken down, but the sector remains what it is.

          • ES Trader

            I am a ex banker ( back in the day when banking was still traditional with lending authority in a branch ) and also in the stock brokerage or in today’s vernacular “financial services”.

            If you define “discrimination” as lack of opportunuity or define discrimination as the lack of female C.E.O’s at the JP Morgans, Goldman Sachs, Citi Corp & BofA’s, it is an unjust charge.

            The road to the top or advancement can be fast tracked by a advance degree from Harvard & Wharton but once in the game does not mean that obstacles still remain. Those that advance and ultimately occupy the corner office are there because of their people skills, thick skin sharp elbows, and manipulative talents with others and rules.

            Learn a lesson from the Giants play-off success, they are not one of the two best teams in baseball this year. They simply made it to the playoffs, not as division champions but as a wild card selection and now they find themselves one game shy of their 3rd World Series title in five years.

            They took advantage of breaks and errors by their play-off opponents and minimized the penalty of their own errors.

            As I tell my GF ( an artist) constantly, women in particular that did not participate in competitive team sports or even play golf seriously really do not understand the world of competition and the winners; the race truly does not always go to the swift..

  • sstanley

    Why don’t they just pay decent salaries to their employees? In Europe tipping is almost an insult, although they are getting used to Americans.

  • ES Trader

    As frequent diners, we absolutely will not patronize a restaurant with a standard 20% surcharge, the only exception being New Year’s Eve. I often ask for a table served by a particular wait person.

    Tips motivate wait staff to be attentive and prompt and I tip accordingly.

    I tip in cash, and responsibility to share, and often tip the bus staff separately as they often seem harder working than the wait staff

    As for kitchen staff inequity, all organizations pay their “sales” people more than the support staff, sales staff depends on the reliability of the support staff and often compensate them

    So how valuable is the kitchen staff to restaurant proprietors?

    • thucy

      Kitchen staff is incredibly valuable – it’s the cardiac and the pulmonary system of the business. Owners don’t pay more because the workers are too weak.

  • Bob Fry

    Finally. I detest the tipping system, which rarely has any relation to actual service rendered. If you don’t like the service, tell them, or don’t return.

    The surcharge ideally should just be rolled into a higher price for everything, but whatever. A big step in the right direction.

    • thucy

      The real discrepancy is that any produce you eat in California is derived from what is little better than slave wages, with little – if any – protections for farm workers. You are not paying full cost for your food, Bob, nor for your gasoline. We never have.

      • Bob Fry

        Of course, but one problem at a time.

        • thucy

          Isn’t it remarkable that the problem you prioritize is one that will eliminate a working-class job rather than admit that your daily meal is founded on slavery?

          • Bob Fry

            Wut? Do you want us to quit eating so the farm workers will get a proper wage? I’m not prioritizing problems, tipping and wait staff is the topic today, not farm worker wages.

          • thucy

            No, but what you’re supporting is eliminating another working-class wage from the Bay Area, rather than asking why the owners themselves haven’t been compensating back-of-house. It’s like your claim that “customers pay for everything in a business” – it is so dissociated from factual reality that it beggars the imagination.

  • Sean Dennehy

    How cynical have we become as a capitalist society that we automatically assume people will phone it in without incentive. The surcharge won’t cause waiters/waitresses to be lazy or give shoddy service.

  • Sanfordia113

    This is just a copout sneak way to increase costs to cover increasing wages, when they full well know that tipping of good servers will continue, regardless of any schemes the owners concoct.

    If they really want to break out costs like an auto repair shop, where labor and parts are itemized separately, fine, whatever. Let their waiters begin serving mufflers and tires.

  • darqmyth

    Why not price the good or service you sell properly so that you can pay your employees and other business expenses? You know, like real businesses do? When I go to Nordstrom’s and buy whatever the hell I would buy at Nordstrom’s, I don’t have a service charge for the clerk who helps me. I don’t tip my mechanic or plumber or electrician or grocery store clerk or etc.. If a restaurant is a business…act like it.

    What a nonsensical and ultimately insulting system. Someone has a job, works hard and is transformed into Blanche Dubois, making a living from the “kindness of strangers”. What is that? Streetcar is a great play….but a bad business model.

  • Sandy Lee

    My husband and I spent 10 days in Amsterdam over the summer and we ate out for every meal. Though we had amazing food while we were there, we also had extremely poor service at most restaurants and the food servers there, as far as I understand, do not get tipped. For the few restaurants that we returned to on that trip — and we tipped the servers all the time — the service improved when the waiters or waitresses remembered us…

  • Chemist150

    There is no need to tip now. Considering you’re paying their healthcare premiums and On top of that, only in rare circumstances are all tips reported for taxes; thus, they’re not paying their fair share of taxes and they should serve you.

    If the restaurant is paying their healthcare, then 20 surcharge would be fine; but a surcharge is a good way to turn away customers. If you can’t afford to live in SF, move. It’s that easy. I refuse to go to SF because of the general mindset there.
    With no incentive to perform well, servers will take on attitudes that turn customers away.

  • Max Richard

    Discussion of equity skirt the issue of owner profits. What this change really means is that servers, bartenders, bussers, hosts and barracks to pay the wage of cooks, dishwashers, etc.

    • thucy

      Exactly. The owners take all, as is increasingly the trend.

  • Laura B. Werlin

    The first time I experienced a service-included policy was many years ago at Chez Panisse Cafe. I didn’t really think about it from the server’s point of view; I just accepted it as policy. And, I might add, we often added additional gratuity in cash when the server went above and beyond and/or when we brought in our own wine and knew the server wasn’t going to benefit much from the minimal corkage fee. Moreover, the service at Chez Panisse was and remains stellar and, ostensibly, loyal. Those servers seem to stay there for a long time. I realize the Bay Area is a very expensive place to live – I live here too and know it first-hand — but it does seem like a form of punishment for servers when the restaurant levels the playing field in this way. On the other hand, I can’t argue with the good news that the people who labor in the back-of-the-house will benefit.

    • thucy

      They’re asking servers to subsidize the low wages of the cooks, while the owners take all. This eliminates yet another decent working-class job, which pushes more middle-class and working-class people from the city, leaving only the tech and finance people.

  • Simon

    As someone who travels to Europe regularly, I have long suspected that the exceptional customer service I receive in California was a probably a result of customer’s being able to tip at their discretion. I am all for tip sharing, but I think I standards surcharge eliminates a great way to communicate to service employees. How do we deal with bad service under this new method? I agree about living wages for service employees but I think further pushing tips and gratuities toward a requirement is the wrong method. They should paid so that no tip still gives them a reasonable wage.

  • Ben Rawner

    I was a waiter for many years and the system seemed to work fine. Credit card transactions have already eliminated the two difference tax situations. If you ask any chef they would tell you they would never be able to deal with the stress, annoyance, and frustration of working in the front of the house.
    Waiters have to show up looking and acting professional, which costs alot of money. Where is the incentive for people to be a waiter. Restaurant owners Better tread carefully, because I have seen how difficult it is to find, hire, and train quality wait staff. Without the monetary incentive, you will find alot less people willing to please the ever more demanding yelping customers, and that can break a restaurant.

  • Sam Badger

    How about service staff get paid at least an actual living wage instead of a fraction of it, so if I don’t give a 15% tip I feel guilty for ripping off a worker. I might tip anyways, but I don’t want to force someone to provide me good service otherwise they can’t feed their kids. People should be paid fairly for their labor by their employer who is making money off of their backs

  • Guest

    What will be the effect on restaurant prices of a potential raise in the SF minimum wage to 15%? This, plus a 20% surcharge, could drive up the cost of eating out in San Francisco significantly.

  • John

    What will be the effect on restaurant prices of a potential raise in
    the SF minimum wage to $15? This, plus a 20% tipping surcharge, could drive up
    the cost of eating out in San Francisco significantly.

  • nick

    To comment on what the lady had said about the differences between the back of the house and front of the house in corporate places like olive garden being pennies on the dollar is absolutely absurd. I’ve been a cook/chef for 16 years, before coming to sf to go to culinary school, and then working in fine dining, I worked at olive garden…..the servers still made way more than the back, and they got less than minimum wage in ohio.

  • Arica Demarcus-Dadjou

    I appreciate the intent to solve the “tipping problem” but why the need for a surcharge? Run your restaurant like a business. Charge a fee, e.g. menu prices, for your services that covers your costs. One of your costs is paying your workers a living wage. Another of your costs is training your employees to provide the service level you have promised to your customers. Use your human “caring” as a marketing tool to reach your customers, provide excellent food and service and, believe me, you’ll have a waiting line to get in.

    • Another Mike

      It’s psychological. If the cost of service is rolled into menu prices, the average patron won’t be able to understand why the menu items are priced so high. Better to let the fellow peering at the menu posted next to the door be able to make an apples to apples comparison. (Before tax and tip vs. before tax and mandatory service fee.)

      • Arica Demarcus-Dadjou

        I think people are smarter than that. Particularly if the “no tipping allowed, we pay our employees a living wage” appears on that menu. If your issue is that SF restaurant patrons are too simple-minded to understand the concept, I think they need to be given more credit.

  • Most waitpeople would agree that tips do not just reflect good service, they reflects good food. Waitpeople are responsible for doling out a share of their tips to cooks and bus staff. If the food is late, cold, or unpalatable, the waitperson is the first to know about it, and will immediately escalate problems to the kitchen and if necessary, to management. Everyone listens to the waitperson because they are paying everyone a portion of their earnings. Making waitpeople less accountable for the overall experience is going to result in lower standards, particularly in middle and working class restaurants where power will shift from front line staff to management who less frequently understand or witness the customer experience.

  • Paul

    At risk of stating the obvious, I think your guests need to remember that these costs (surcharge, tip) will always fall back on the consumer in some degree, and as the price rises, we will JUST EAT OUT LESS. Not all restaurants in SF are like Nopa or Flour & Water – with a two month waiting list – and rely on the everyday customer to decide to eat out instead of cook in.

  • HSS

    Basically, the restaurant owners are unwilling to give up a portion of their profits to properly pay their workers and want to ‘stick’ it to their customers. The real problem is the greed of the owners. If they cared about their employees, they would profit share, provide health care and other benefits. They want the customers to pay rather than lose a penny of money going into their own pockets!

  • Cheryl Burr

    I own a casual restaurant in San Francisco and my payroll is consistently 40-45% of my revenue. I pay my kitchen employees $13-15/hr and servers the minimum wage. If I pay my employees more, it will put me out of business. If I counter that expense by raising menu prices (our burger is already $13) I will lose customers. The surcharge is an interesting idea but I worry about the customers that won’t see the value in the charge. People want their quality food cheap, but they also want wages to be higher. As of now, those two things can’t go together.

  • Bob

    Possibly off topic but I really think that the value of tip based services has been diminished by patrons and employees who insist on a tip for take away orders. You devalue professional servers by insisting that a person who hands you a box and runs a register deserves a tip!

  • ES Trader

    What would Milton Friedman have said about a mandatory surcharge ?!

    • thucy

      Believe it or not, Kiyoshi, not everyone worships at the feet of the Chicago School. For the generations younger than yourself, Milton Friedman has become increasingly irrelevant.

      • ES Trader

        Well Lucy, cycles by definition come and go and though Chicago School of Economics may be out of vogue is not proof of its validity.

        Socialists by nature prefer that work be performed by someone else leaving them to stand aside to criticize.

        As Thomas Piketty points out the primary reason for the wealth gap is that the middle class did not own stocks the past 5 years and own less real assets in general.

        They prefer buying Giants season tickets, vacations and attire; Consumers not investors then wants government intervention to re-distribute wealth.

        If they ever become honest with themselves they would realize that much of Friedman’s conclusions on economics are facts.

  • Cassie spindler

    The argument that service will decline because servers will have less impetus to do their jobs well is ridiculous. One doesn’t expect a bridge will be engineered poorly because one doesn’t tip the architect. Bad servers will be weeded out like any other employees: through managerial involvement and service assessments.

  • Chiao Su

    Tip or service fee simply puts the burden of volatility of customer flow from the owner to the servers. Imagine if your wage gets deducted if no customer shows up for that day. Also, there’s no evidence to support higher tips leads to better service.

  • Stephanie

    I’ve been a chef in San Francisco I’ve been a server in San Francisco I’ve been a restaurant owner in San Diego cook chef server in San Diego the chef in Seattle a manager in Seattle and a server in Seattle and all I’ve learned going from place to place is at the businesses dictate to the employee what should be paid to employees. The consumer does not understand that employers will take money out of your paycheck money out of your tips to pay fellow employees to compensate for the restaurant having to pay other employees more so if you were tipped employee a lot of times you’re tipping the kitchen the bussers the food runners hostesses the captains and people don’t realize that if you make that you make $100 and $47 of that goes into other people’s pockets because the servers are compensating for the gap. I recently worked for a company one of the largest restaurant in San Diego and they would take 47% of my tip and I tipped to the other employees because they did not want to pay their professional employees. Look at the French laundry they have a auto gratuity.

    • nick

      Owners taking tips for tip share is illegal

  • Mark Bruce

    I don’t know anyone who balks at paying substantially more for “free-roaming” eggs. And that’s because we want chickens to have a decent life! If restaurants displayed a logo that they subscribed to a “fair employment pledge” and stated that none of their emplyees was paid less than, say, $30, and that tips were not expected, I would not mind paying more for the meal. And i would happily avoid restaurants that did not subscribe to that pledge. Just pay the higher wages and charge more for the food!

    Mark in San Jose

    • Chris J

      I balk. I’m well aware of the differences between cage-free and pastured, etc., but $5-6 for a dozen eggs vs $3.50? Plenty of people balk.

  • Stephanie

    As an employee…we are sub contractors. We pay to work. The employer also need consistency from the consumer.

  • nick

    The fact that bartender just called in and said that the cooks need to work their way up to become bartenders is the exact reason why are system is flawed, please enlighten me as to why becoming a bartender over being a chef is working your way up…

    • thucy

      I agree, but maybe someone can enlighten us why the owners aren’t compensating the cooks out of their substantial profits, rather than asking to eliminate another livable wage (bartender). Are you aware that bartenders already tip out a significant portion of tips to support staff?

      • nick

        I know every aspect of restaurant living and I am well aware of cash tip outs depending on where you are working….at a lot of places the bartender is the top, servers tip out the bartenders on drinks, bartender tips expo or runner and barback…but your talking 5-10% on $200-500 cash tip nights here in sf….they barely claim 10% on taxes and your walking away with 85-100k a year while your back of the house are getting 30-40k if their lucky….people don’t go to restaurants for drinks they go for food, or some go for both but your not getting your reviews on drinks, you get it mostly on the food, a good amount on the service and a little on the drink….but the pay is visa versa for the importance of quality, which in my mind doesn’t make sense. As for the owners paying more…most people that say this have never seen the books at a restaurant. Very few new restaurants make money and the older ones are probably making enough to support the owner with a 100k salary a year…..that’s it….they arent, for the most part, making millions of dollars like people think. It takes a lot and I mean a lot of money to run a restaurant. ..even if your grossing 1 million after its all said and done, 75%of that is bills and pay,a smart owner will put 15% away for rainy day funds and he has ten percent for himself. ….a meir 100k….your front of the house manager salary is almost as much as your and your bartender who probably has a degree in biology but decided to be a bartender cause it pays more is making more than you….sad

  • thucy

    Owner Thad Vogler’s claim that he’s just “breaking even” with his restaurant is pure horsepucky. What did he pay himself in salary and how did that affect profitability, and hold down wages for cooks?

  • Bert Macklin

    When did 20% become the norm? I don’t remember voting in the 18% rule either… What about 15% or pricing that allows restauranteurs to actually pay their employees?

  • David Fronval

    10% is bad service15% is average service, 20% is excellent, the waiter went out of his way to make your experience nice. I go to restaurants at least once a week, i may give 20% twice a years.
    If included in the price as a tax 15% should be the norm.

  • Kevin

    Servers and bartenders are the face of the business. They are sales representatives who must up sell items and always act friendly and gracious. As such, they are paid more than the back of the house employees who may or may not have the social skills or etiquette needed for being the face of the business.
    The people who work on a factory floor in production, work very hard yet make far less than the salespeople who sell the product of that factory labor. Working in hospitality slash sales, can be easy for those for whom it comes naturally to, yet nearly impossible for anyone else. Thus, compensation will naturally reflect the difference in skill sets.
    The typical server or bartender will also be more articulate than the typical BOH employee. In California especially ,there is a cultural component as Latino workers that are not fluent in English simply cost less to employ because they are plentiful and willing to work for less. It’s not fair but the market for anything seldom is. Many native English speakers work in the kitchen but the stereotype of white people who work the line is that of an anti social, neck tattoo, pirate, crazy person that would wreak havoc if they interacted with the guests.

  • Question… Why is the government taxing tips AT ALL?????? Tips are gifts. They are not mandated. They are not really “wages.” There is no regulation across the country. There are sooo many industries where tipping is done where the tips are undocumented. Taxi drivers. Hair dressers. Masseuses. Coffee baristas. etc etc etc.. This is really about the greedy government who wants more money to fund it’s ridiculous wars. Period.

  • s mannell

    I work for a small plates wine bar in a very, very busy public location. Not only does our employer pay us a significantly higher base wage but our avg tips / day are @20%. All of our cash and credit tips are pooled and logged each day by us and yes, taxed. We ALL get paid from the same pot. Granted none of us are “cooks” but each of us can scramble in any duty be it wait tables,sell retail, host, bus, bar tend, dishes, food prep and kitchen assemblage. Been 5 years..works for me. BOH contributes just as much to service. Without people hustling the kitchen you think the FOH would make guests as happy..they talked briefly about hiring a kitchen person just at base wage..I would have felt horrible for that person.

    • s mannell

      Oh and tips are averaged for pay period so we all get same tip out per hour doesn’t matter what shifts you get but we all get our share of hustle and calm. No fighting for better shifts.

  • John

    Is waiting tables really a “career” that deserves a middle class salary? It seems to me this kind of work is more for college students and other young people on their way up to a real job.

  • Julie Countryman

    I recently dined at a fairly nice restaurant near LAX (the now defunct Proud Bird) that charged a 20 percent surcharge (with no mention until I got the bill) along with a statement on the bill, “this surcharge is to guarantee that our staff earns at least minimum wage and does not replace tips. Please tip generously to ensure that your server makes a living wage.”

    So, what I ordered, soup and salad, plus a coffee, ended up costing me nearly $20, almost 1.5 times my hourly wage. I left no tip, a note thanking them for borderline service, and for the unique highway robbery experience, and that I would definitely never visit their establishment again.

    What they should have done is had their menus reprinted with new pricing that reflected the 20% increase.

    I did a little bit of research after reading so much about “tip your waitperson” to see what they really make as base pay. In California, those who receive tips must be paid a minimum wage of $9.00 an hour before tips.

    Here is a table published by the DOL: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm.

  • Menelvagor

    I will never sit in a restaurant that charges a surcharge. It is not my responsibility to pay for your business a waiter I would not think it fair to share my tips–pool my tips. I earned that tip.

    When a restaurant pools tips, its confusing, creates hostility and resentment and everyone gets less, and the rest. takes more that it deserves.

    As a customer–i am outraged!! Restaurants are just passing the responsibility to pay underpaid slave laborers to the customer–one more example of this corporate trend to pass the cost to the customer–instead of paying taxes and paying workers. Why should a customer pay 20% more on the food bill? It’s crazy! And in these hard times.

    You GD rich restaurant owners better start paying the wait staff!!! They are not slaves!

    And patrons–you cheap people-you know who you are–tip the good wait staff. They deserve it. As a customer it is my right to deny a tip and my right to show my generosity if i feel like it–the custom ensures that restaurants provide better service–take away tipping and there is no incentive for the restaurant to serve the customer. Kitchen employees don’t deserve tips–they didn’t deal with the tables–they get paid more anyway. some chefs are pretty well off. dish boys get a salary. just pay them more–take responsibility you awholes.

    In business–the costs of running that business is the owners not the customers. the arrogance is astounding.

  • Menelvagor

    plumbers and mechanics can determine the cost of their service–they can charge more and expect more if their service is exceptional. A waitperson is a subject of the crown and has no autonomy. In Britain where there are no tips–service is terrible–miserable grumpy hostile waitstaff. In China-they waitstaff is not tipped and they walk around around like shambolic zombies. Service will be diminished! You clearly never worked as a waitress missy.

    Krasney, when i have lousy food i just go somewhere else. a chair is a chair. You cant expect them to be something they cant be. Why complain? Just vote with your feet. Everyone has different tastes. you complain–someone else applauds. So get over yourself!

    20% service charge is raising prices ma’am. whatever you call it.
    This is the business you choose. its not always profitable. Stop whinging. What will make it profitable is a co-op–all the waitstaff and cooks share ownership. Just like in politics, owners and kings, are unnecessary, and undeserving–its only profitable if you exploit workers for your greed. that’s capitalism. This is the crux of the argument. Boycott capitalist pig restaurants and support co-ops and everyone is happy and successful and employed and empowered. Cooks unite with the waitstasff and eliminate the owners.

  • I’m pro! Thank you, KQED, as always for producing on point topics

  • Chris J

    I am highly disinclined to dine at a restaurant that institutionalizes a surcharge on top of a meal’s charge. It takes away my choice to tip based on quality of service away. If I have a rotten meal because the server or the chef is having a bad day, I’m not in inline to subsidize that.

    I would prefer that tipping be eliminated, that restaurants simply provide a living wage, and then be done with it.

  • Bert Garibay

    As a restaurant cook in SF for 8 years, I react strongly to the idea pay inequality cannot get remedied without some kind of “wealth redistribution,” within the
    system. Everybody who dumps on the idea of the surcharge and tip pools just says kitchen workers should get paid more, or “what they’re worth,” but then business owners say they don’t want to raise prices (but considering the “poor margins,” what option do they have?), and consumers don’t want to pay more.
    Also, The argument that servers are going to lose money doesn’t mean
    much to me considering the significantly shorter amount of time they put in for the pay they get (at high end restaurants/fine dining) vs. the hours that cooks put in. Finally, I
    don’t understand this weird fetish that diners have about tipping. It’s
    basically a form of psychological ego stroking for the consumer, where
    their internal dialog says,” Yeah, that was SOOOO WORTH IT, and this
    extra money that I’m choosing to essentially throw away is how I’m going to show how
    good I feel about the choice I made to please myself. It’s amazing how
    institutionalized and normalized this ridiculous behavior is.

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