May 12, 2016

Customers don't like the no-tipping policy at Joe's Crab Shack.

The restaurant chain raised prices by 12 - 15% and put the servers' wages at $14 an hour:
"We got negative customer counts between 8 percent to 10 percent on average among the 18 restaurants, and we tried it for quite a while, tried communicating it different ways," [CEO Bob] Merritt explained, adding that customers didn't like not being able to incentivize good service, and also didn't trust management to pay employees the higher wages.
Did they take steps to ensure the service was first rate? I would think that the new policy — presumably touted to the customers — pushes customers to notice what the service is like and to think about how they've lost control.  Were customers supposed to think of the place as benevolent in some special new way or just to enjoy the convenience of not having to figure out and add the tip? The scheme will obviously fail if the service isn't at least as good as it would be in a tipping situation. It might need to be better, because people may notice and be more irritated by whatever lapses there are. With tips, you get to work through whatever negative opinions you might have as you determine the final tally. Without tips, you take your bad attitude out the door like an unwanted doggy bag.

76 comments:

Oso Negro said...

Maybe it is just the difference between being compelled to pay for the incremental service versus having the option to pay for it. I pretty much resist anything that is compulsory, and I suspect others do, too.

Oso Negro said...

It is not about a desire to be in control, as much as a desire to avoid being controlled by others.

David Begley said...

But what's their bathroom policy?

rhhardin said...

It's a fake controversy, as is the controversy about wages.

It's all market clearing if left alone, as is every other thing in life that the government hasn't taken over.

rhhardin said...

The food is better at home.

AReasonableMan said...

Tipping is about class, you don't tip a surgeon or an accountant. It is about the need, of some, to experience fawning service rather than just getting the job done in a workmanlike manner. I much prefer restaurant service in countries that do not use tipping over the US experience of constantly having to tell the server that 'everything is fine'. The falsity of the smiles and dancing attendance is distracting from the meal. If you were going to tip anyone it should be the chef.

Ann Althouse said...

"The food is better at home."

So, rh, a lot of us would like to know: What do you eat? If we wanted to follow the better-at-home rhhardin food plan, what would we eat?

I mean, Meade and I agree that the food is better at home. For us, it's: 1. We know what all the ingredients are and take care with what we do and feel assured that it's all wholesome. 2. It takes much less time and trouble. 3. It's pretty much all stuff we know we like. (And, in my case, with anosmia, I have little chance of enjoying some new flavor and I'm very sensitive to things that a restaurant might not care enough about (temperature, texture, over-salting).

Oso Negro said...

I am guessing you do not spend a great deal of time in foreign restaurants, ARM. Given the choice, people prefer friendly service. As an example, I offer the opening of the first McDonalds in Kiev, Ukraine. Prior to that, you would not only have not gotten smiling service, but might have been chastised if YOU smiled. McDonalds changed everything. The kids who went through that program learned how to deliver friendly service and a generation down the road, no one is pining for the former. Perhaps the neutral/hostile service gives you extra satisfaction at dining abroad.

Fritz said...

Crabs are a lot of work, even though it's a Maryland tradition. Sitting around drinking beer and picking crabs, you barely break even on calories. We don't have crabs often, now that I don't get them free at work, but every year I splurge on a couple of soft-shell sandwiches.

Nichevo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hagar said...

Being Norwegian born and raised, I do not like tipping. It's not about restaurants, but a general thing. I do not like to haggle over the price of anything either. Just tell me how much you want for whatever you are selling, and I will decide if I want to buy. And if you try a second time and lower the price, I will leave the store.

Also I think that tipping leads to bad blood between the waitstaff and I trust them less to share as they are supposed to than I mistrust the management. The whole system just does not make sense to me.

tim maguire said...

Most servers make more than 14/hr total. This sounds like a plan to skim tips while seeming to care about paying a living wage. Meanwhile, as you accurately point out, a level of control has been taken from customers; but it's more than that. As Americans, we tend to be uncomfortable not tipping our servers. Many people will tip something on top of their inflated bills. To them, this is simply a gussied up price increase.

CStanley said...

As Americans, we tend to be uncomfortable not tipping our servers. Many people will tip something on top of their inflated bills. To them, this is simply a gussied up price increase.

This would be it for me. Whenever I see signs indicating no tipping my first thought is that the base rate is higher than it otherwise would have been, and my second thought is that some people probably do tip anyway so the employees probably do still have some expectation or at least hope for a tip. This leaves me feeling like I'm getting hosed, having to pay more to start with and then having to choose between adding more to my cost or leaving an employee feeling resentful.

AReasonableMan said...
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MayBee said...

Having lived in Asia and the UK, where tipping the server isn't the norm, I have to say I really dislike tipping. You don't leave enough, it hurts the server. You leave 20%, it's just what they expect. In order to leave a tip to delight them, you have to leave way too much. It is an awkward end to the meal. And confusing to foreign tourists who are here.

Rather than win-win, tipping is lose-neutral.

Tank said...

I think it's just what you're used to. In America we're used to tipping. It would take a while, probably quite a while, to get used to not tipping.

I'm surprised at how infrequently Mrs. Tank and I get service that is bad enough to notice. On the other hand, we're relatively undemanding (based upon our observations of other diners over the years). Our impression has been that the quality of service isn't any different overall in the places we've been to where tipping is not expected (various places in Europe) vs. here. Customs are different, so if you don't know what they are, it's easy to think you're not getting good service, even when you are.

I like to eat out. I like it a lot. It's often one of the best parts of travelling. Sometimes you get extraordinary food, more often it's no better than you make at home. But the experience of being waited on, enjoying a cocktail or two, is, to me, conducive to good conversation and good feelings with friends.

JAORE said...

It will add to the servers tax burden. None that I know of ever reported more than the mandated minimum percentage.

When I've traveled to places where tipping is discouraged it was fine. The service was, with rare exception, more than good.

Here in the States? Not so much. I tend to over tip. And I call the manager to complement exceptional service. I love to see their expression change from apprehension to joy.

But man, oh man there are times.... If service is bad enough I'll tell management, but that is a hassle. Usually I leave an obviously small tip as a message. Even if the service is bad, I don't usually strike a place from my list. I attribute the bad service to a poor server, or one having a bad day, unless it happens frequently. With no tipping, the bar for striking a place off my list will be lowered.

JAORE said...

Oh, and to ARM's point.

I don't like fawning service either. I usually dine with family and friends. They and the food are the focal points of the evening.

I like fast, efficient and helpful service. I don't want a floor show or my boots licked.

CStanley said...

To the point many people are making- I agree the biggest issue is change. It's likely that service, if it could be measured objectively, can be on par in places where tipping is the norm and places where it is not.

But the transition is difficult and awkward. I thin Prof Althouse is speculating that this could be a good thing, because servers and management will think they have to up their game in order to prove that the new system works well, but I doubt that's the case. Management has the incentive to do so, but not the ability to influence servers' performance.

Also being one restaurant adopting the change in a general system that hasn't creates confused expectations. It's like Arizona not doing DST- even though I dislike DST I think I'd dislike even more being in one state that doesn't change its clocks when it's neighbors do.

AReasonableMan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anglelyne said...

Oso Negro: I am guessing you do not spend a great deal of time in foreign restaurants, ARM. Given the choice, people prefer friendly service...

Perhaps the neutral/hostile service gives you extra satisfaction at dining abroad.


I haven't noticed good/hostile service to be correlated to tipping customs, though. Nor would I lump "neutral" service with "hostile" service. All rude/hostile service is bad service. "Neutral" service can range from "adequate" to superb. "Friendly" service can range from superb to godawful.

Nobody likes hostile service. I personally prefer "neutral", polite, professional, no-tip French service to the annoyingly intrusive "Hi, I'm your new best friend!" American tipping-system stereotype. (Then again, I'm one of those weird Americans who has never found the French to be rude or off-putting, quite the contrary, so I guess it's a matter of temperament.)

And it's true that there are always some jerks who want fawning, ass-kissing service, and who appear to eat out mainly for the pleasure of treating people below them in the social pecking order disrespectfully. Anybody who has ever been a waiter knows that.

Anglelyne said...

On the other hand, I preferred the tipping system when I could make beaucoup bucks working in a nice joint during tourist season, while in school. (Those were the days when good waitressing tips could cover college costs.)

Amexpat said...

Reviewing servers, like what's done at AirBnb and Uber, would be more of an incentive for good service than tipping, especially if reviews were linked to pay.

Chip said...

It's funny how opinionated people are about tipping. I personally love America's "tipping culture." If you have dinner out once a week and get good service it's fun to leave a big tip.

Hagar said...

Professional service should be attentive, but unobtrusive.
I am a customer, not your long lost cousin.

Bobby said...

Anglelyne,

They don't tip in South Korea, either, and yet the service there is ludicrously good. Japan considers tipping to be rude- again, I'd be hard-pressed to say you get better service in the US than you do in Japan. Nor is tipping customary in New Zealand in Australia (it certainly is not "expected" as it is in the US). I tend to be a very generous tipper, so I often feel awkward dining abroad, but when in Rome and all that...

But I'm with JAORE- I haven't noticed a correlation between "good service" and "cultures that tip."

rhhardin said...

So, rh, a lot of us would like to know: What do you eat? If we wanted to follow the better-at-home rhhardin food plan, what would we eat?

Oat bran, egg whites and Morningstar veggie bacon and butter in flat bread, cereal. Dog gets the yolks.

Steamed brown rice and veggies (peas or lima beans, usually) and chicken, shared with dog, her favorite meal; I add salsa, tumeric, pepper, oregano, garlic to mine.

Morningstar prime grillers, heated and then cooled down to room temperature and eaten straight.

Bob Boyd said...

I agree with Oso Negro. It rubs me the wrong way to have the business owner reach into my pocket as though I can't be trusted to do what they have determined is the right thing for me to do. It feels adversarial and patronizing. It feels like they have reduced all their customers to the lowest common denominator.
But they also deprive me of the pleasure of giving the tip and disrupt the brief, but often very enjoyable, customer/waitperson relationship that develops over the course of the meal.

Michael McClain said...

I routinely tip 20%. If menu prices were increased by that much and the servers pay was increased, then I wouldn't feel the urge to tip at all. My son's experience as a server has made me sensitive to the poverty-level wages paid to servers.

tim in vermont said...

I kind of agree with ARM, it's happening more and more. At first I thought he was trolling for Trump to help Hillary. Now I am beginning to think he has stopped trolling.

Also, to many it's a price increase, full stop.

tim in vermont said...

I always tip a breakfast waitress folding money, even if I just get coffee.

AJ Lynch said...

I actually tip sometimes at the drive in window at Wendy's when I get a $15 or more order. I wonder if Bernie or any of the other Dems calling for a $15 minimum wage have ever considered tipping at a fast food joint. That would be one way to show your support for a higher minimum wage and put your money [alost literally] where your mouth is.

Big Mike said...

I routinely tip 20%, since server wages are low and the Washington metropolitan area features a very high cost of living. Consequently if prices are raised by 15% and tips are forbidden, then I'm money ahead. Of course here in Fairfax County they are proposing a 4% meal tax, so wife and I will mostly eat at home anyway.

I partially agree with ARM (not quite a first!) in that I get annoyed when servers "work the tip" and hover around the table or attempt to engage us when we'd rather be chit-chatting among ourselves.

Steve said...

The people I know that want tipping to remain the norm are people that actually work for tips. The people that think it is an abomination are the ones that would never let their kids work in the service industry.

Noblesse oblige is a funny, funny thing.

Steve said...

tim in vermont said...

I always tip a breakfast waitress folding money, even if I just get coffee.

-Nobody wants a tip hat jingles.


rhhardin said...

Morningstar prime grillers, heated and then cooled down

-Jebus, that sounds like a hate crime.

Jason said...

The best servers will go where they can earn tips. Joe's Crab Shack will be stuck with noob servers and people who never broke the $14 per hour mark.

Tipping also aligns the interest of the restaurant and the servers, because the servers are your sales staff. You want them selling your apps, that bottle of wine or cocktails and your deserts. You also need them to have the sales skills to subtly push your specials where you need to move a big hunk of fish while it's still good. Or in the case of a fish special on a Monday, at least still edible if you blacken it or sauce it enough.

The best waiters usually know when not to bother you.

Peter said...

By BUT because most customers tip a percentage of the bill, no-tipping removes an incentive for waitstaff to upsell the customer. Which at least has some potential upside for customers, as some waitstaff can be relentless in their efforts to get customers to spend more.

From waitstaff's PoV, they've been demoted from commissioned salespeople to fixed-salary; risk is reduced, but perhaps potential rewards are as well?

Unknown said...

You know that at a high end joint, say Peter Luger's steakhouse in Brooklyn, or Le Bernardin in midtown Manhattan, the waiters get their 15-20-? percent of those enormous checks. PL's management was once sued for skimming those tips - waiters making six figures is not unusual there.

Now the PL online menu doesn't have prices, but assume $50 a person for the classic steak. A four-top could run $400 easy with drinks, sides, desserts. So that should be raised to $500 for a table, and then we're supposed to believe the waiter sees another $100/table in his paycheck?

Alex said...

I wouldn't go to a no-tipping restaurant until we removed the social conditioning to tip. The food servers will still expect to be tipped and if not, resentful fucks. So no thanks.

Alex said...

Unknown - if you're some high powered Manhattanite what is $100/night at a restaurant? It's like McDonalds to you and me.

Michael said...

Who would have guessed that Joe's Crab Shack would have brought the European dining experience to our suburban shores. Stunning.

Now we can learn the European rationale of not tipping, a rationale that ignores the attendant lazy, indifferent, service. Why there is no need to tip! They have benefits! They have good wages. Do not leave a tip Mr Ugly American!! It spoils them.

Unexpected.

Unknown said...

Sure, Alex, and if the market was up, or the waiter struck a chord with them, or she said yes, they might tip the guy another $400 or any number. My point was not to be jealous of investment bankers or whoever scraped up their savings to go out for a feed. My point was, some waiters are doing very nicely under the tip system.

ARM, Nichevo,

Waiting, cooking and the other functions of a restaurant are all noteworthy and important. The cook is obviously the heart of the place, but he is paid better. The waiter's value is as the interface keeping the "this burger is too rare - now this burger is too well done - the burger is OK now but the fries are cold" customer from the "fuck you SERVICE ON 23 you fucking RE-FIRE BURGER stupid WHERE'S MY ADDERALL fuck" cook and vice versa. In other words, keeping the hot side hot and the cool side cool. (The experience at a French white-linen joint and a roadside stand will obviously be different for all concerned.)

What personally confuses me is tip jars.

Eleanor said...

Most of the people I know who actually wait tables for a living make more than $14/hour. Maybe that's not true at the Crabshack, but for a lot of places it would be a substantial cut in pay. Easier bookkeeping for the management, though.

Unknown said...

Read Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London" for a look from the inside.

tim maguire said...

Steve said...
tim in vermont said...

I always tip a breakfast waitress folding money, even if I just get coffee.

-Nobody wants a tip hat jingles.


I'm with ya--the server at a diner can work just as hard as one in a nice restaurant, they shouldn't get docked because the food is cheaper. So my base rate at a nice restaurant is 15%, adjusted up or down depending on service quality. My base rate in a diner is 20%, adjusted, but taking into account whether the server is slammed. And my minimum tip is a buck a person plus a buck for the table.

Static Ping said...

Been to the Netherlands. Tipping is not required, though tipping a Euro or two for good service is appreciated. The waiters in the touristy areas love Americans because they often do not know the local tipping customs and leave 15%-20% tips anyway. Some of the Dutch people I talked to preferred the American tipping model, given that they often experience poor service. The no tipping model combined with a "cannot fire anyone" employment model is a recipe for annoyance.

For those of you comparing your service between countries, please note that if you went to a restaurant that caters to tourists, your experience there may not be reflective of waiters in normal restaurants serving the locals. Touristy restaurants that treat tourists like crap do not tend to stay in business. I ate in both the touristy and non-touristy parts of the Netherlands and was generally well treated at both, though the non-touristy spots seemed to have less patience with the dumb American who could not read the menu.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

How crabby. Tipping used to be Un-American, now it's Ultra-American.

jr565 said...

My guess is, they made more with tips and the low salary then with the 14 an hour at most restaurants. So, I'm sure they are LOVING that new pay cut. Thanks, minimum wage.

Anglelyne said...

Michael: Now we can learn the European rationale of not tipping, a rationale that ignores the attendant lazy, indifferent, service. Why there is no need to tip! They have benefits! They have good wages. Do not leave a tip Mr Ugly American!! It spoils them.

I haven't run into lousy service any more often in no-tip Europe than I have in the tippy U.S. It's not the tipping or lack thereof that makes for bad service.

Both systems have their upsides and downsides. There is no "right" way to do this. Amazing how pissy people get about everybody on the planet not doing everything in the exact same fucking way, i.e., their way.

dbp said...

"Without tips, you take your bad attitude out the door like an unwanted doggy bag."

How would you ever have an unwanted doggy bag? They can't make you take your leftovers.

Francisco D said...

I waited tables while working through my undergraduate studies. On a busy Saturday night, I made a lot more than $14 an hour, and that was in the early 1970's.

The good waiters will abandon places that limit their opportunity to make money. Restaurants that only pay wages will wind up with inferior staff. They have no incentive to learn the menu and wine list, no incentive to learn how to bone a fish or properly present a bottle of wine. As to the restaurant's bottom line, they will have no incentive to sell more booze. That is where the profile lies.

I worked in one restaurant that kept tab on our average monthly alcohol sales. If you were at the bottom of the list two months in a row, you were gone. As a diner, I am happy when the server asks if I would like another drink, regardless of whether I want one or not.

Brando said...

Tipping creates this idea that the waiter is an semi-independent contractor who is mostly compensated by the customer to work on the customer's behalf in getting food out properly and dealing with any problems with management. Severing that relationship and making the waiter more of a customer support employee answerable only to the restaurant takes away certain incentives. Even if like most people you tip automatically (even for poor service) you still like that idea that the waiter is incentivized to please you directly.

C Stanley said...

As a diner, I am happy when the server asks if I would like another drink, regardless of whether I want one or not.

We're in a growing suburban area with lots of new restaurants popping up and we eat out a lot. The growth apparently means a labor shortage (or maybe inexperienced management) because service is consistently bad- and I'm not talking about failure to kiss our asses, more like failure to acknowledge we're even there or failure to serve food. My husband commented the other night, when we noticed that our server seemed to be trying but was still failing badly (the problem was likely in the kitchen), that you would think they would know to keep bringing him more glasses of wine at least!

Fernandinande said...

Anglelyne said...
(Then again, I'm one of those weird Americans who has never found the French to be rude or off-putting, quite the contrary, so I guess it's a matter of temperament.)


I found that the French were rude when they assumed I was British or German (since there were very few Americans where I was, namely near Nice), and generally pretty nice otherwise; the Nice(an?) French said Parisians are rude to non-Parisians. A jacked-up American 4WD pickup truck (not mine) attracted large crowds of admirers in Nice.

Yancey Ward said...

This is nothing more than an attempt by the restaurant management to skim the tip pool of the waitstaff while being able to crow about "increasing" the wages of its workers. The result is going to be predictable- the restaurant will end up employing as waitstaff only those who were unable to earn over the $14-15/hr before the change, while pissing off the customer base that had no problem with the tipping custom. It is short-sighted policy in any case.

Alex said...

You see this? *rubs index finger and thumb together*

This is the world's tiniest violin playing just for the waitresses.

mikee said...

The difference between superb service and ordinary, proper service in a restaurant setting is significant, noticeable, and deserving of reward when encountered. I always expect ordinary, proper service and complain or take my custom elsewhere when it is not offered. But when I am served superbly, it is a joy.

Joe's is trying to incentivize via paycheck their ordinary good service to move closer to superb, using the tried and true Deming methods of process control, implementation of standards and recognition of accomplishment. I applaud their efforts.

And when I "Eat at Joe's" and get treated better than I expect, I'm gonna slip that waiter or waitress a folded US bill, whether they are supposed to take it or not.

Titus said...

I noticed the sidebar story about U.S. poultry workers wearing diapers at work because they didn't get shit breaks.

nice.

Sigivald said...

I won't go to Joe's Crab Shack because they seem to think their ideal ambiance is 100db all the time, and making their staff sing things.

I am not their target market (which is a shame, since I like their food well enough).

Joe said...

Joe's Crab Shack is one of the most vile restaurants of all time, so not a problem for me.

Joe said...

"So, rh, a lot of us would like to know: What do you eat? If we wanted to follow the better-at-home rhhardin food plan, what would we eat? "

In the case of Joe's Crab Shack, just eat your own shit out of the toilet and it would taste better.

Balfegor said...

Re: AReasonableMan:

Tipping is about class, you don't tip a surgeon or an accountant. It is about the need, of some, to experience fawning service rather than just getting the job done in a workmanlike manner. I much prefer restaurant service in countries that do not use tipping over the US experience of constantly having to tell the server that 'everything is fine'. The falsity of the smiles and dancing attendance is distracting from the meal. If you were going to tip anyone it should be the chef.

I . . . you get attentive service in the US? My experience is that even at expensive restaurants in the US the service is nothing special, and at most restaurants it is actually quite terrible. Certainly not so attentive that one could describe it as fawning. Maybe you look like a better tipper than me?

In contrast, in countries with no tipping (mostly Japan), I'm used to much more attentive and discreet service. Smiles and attentive service and a quick gait signalling "haste" are baseline expectations. It's something that customers are laser-focused on too, in that market. I sometimes trawl reviews on Tabelog before picking where to eat, and people are brutal about what in the US would be considered minor faults in service, e.g. waitstaff engaging in personal chit-chat where the customers can overhear, setting down plates ungracefully, not greeting guests promptly with a warm smile, not making adequate chit-chat at the bar (e.g. for the itamae at a sushi restaurant) etc. Even in inexpensive restaurants, it's a priority. I took some US colleagues to an inexpensive Korean restaurant in Tokyo and we all laughed at the survey card they left for us -- it asked in detail about the attitude, poise, smiles, etc. of the waitstaff at all different stages of the meal, from the greeting at the door to the payment of the check.

Meanwhile in the US, I regularly get the strong impression that the wait staff are deliberately ignoring me. Sometimes I can't even get staff in the US to notice me so I can be seated. Frankly, part of the relief of getting out of the US is that service in restaurants is so much better. Like night and day. Now that I think back on it, the service I get in the US is actually so awful it's humiliating at times. I suppose this is what Black people experience when they talk about discrimination at restaurants, except I think in my case, this is just because service culture in the US is so bad (I guess it's my fault for rewarding them, though, because I consistently tip around 15-20%).

Anyhow, I shudder to think what scale of service you're thinking of where service in the US counts as "fawning" or attentive. Do you frequently dine in rural restaurants in Communist China or something?

Jason said...

A big advantage to the American tip system, with a reduced hourly wage, is that it substantially reduces risk to the restaurant.

If you're working your financials and you run your labor cost projections and you can see that your out-of-pocket labor costs are going to be $25,000 per month instead of $10,000, because now you have to pay $15 out of pocket per man-hour instead of $5 with the rest made up in tips, do you open up that other location? Do you start a restaurant in the first place? You can see what your margin is now. Is it enough to compensate you for the hassle and risk of opening up a new place?

At the margins, do you now close earlier on a slow night? Do you send waiters and cooks home at 9 instead of 11? Do you not bother opening for breakfast?

Do you not bother opening a breakfast place up, or any other place with a low price point, affordable for working people, when your higher labor costs are extremely large compared to and menu prices?

And how many managers, cooks, dishwashers, bussers and servers don't get hired? How many plots of real estate continue to go unoccupied and unrented?

I'm looking at you, libtard minimum wage supporters.

Owen said...

Oso Negro: "It is not about a desire to be in control, as much as a desire to avoid being controlled by others."

Bingo. The old system lets the customer and the server engage in an invisible silent but very real relationship. There is an open question there that both sides want to see answered in a successful way. Most people expect to tip what is expected of them (10-20%) and are not looking for ways to screw the server to save a few bucks. And only rarely are people feeling wildly magnanimous when they walk into a restaurant, looking to shower gold on the help. But even though the transactional boundaries are pretty predictable, the point is, they're not fixed. There is a dance going on, and it's part of what we call social life.

In contrast to what we call socialism, where there is no need and no opportunity to choose. No thought, no agency.

Hagar said...

The "normal" 20% tip is applied to the listed price of the meal, but the money is supposed to go to the waitstaff whose wages only represent a fraction of the price. Thus a 20% increase in the listed price, if dedicated to the waitstaff's wages, would result in a much larger wage increase.
Math is hard.

Hagar said...

There does seem to be something inconsistent about "minimum wage" plus tip. Why should restaurant workers be so favored over other minimum wage recipients?

Hagar said...

Or, have I seen something about a special minimum wage for restaurant workers and it is "assumed" that they make up a percentage of that to equal the general minimum wage?
So we pile fix upon fix until the whole edifice topples over.

Francisco D said...

Hagar,

I agree that there is a math problem, but it is more complicated than that. If my average bill is $150 and I serve 20 tables a night, I would expect to make as much as $600 that night (assuming 20% tips for my excellent service and charming demeanor). The lazy SJW who serves 10 tables and averages $100 per bill (because she doesn't ask or encourage cocktails, appetizers and dessert) can expect to make $150 (assuming 15% tips because people are just being nice).

At Joes' Crab Shack, we would be paid the same.

Oh! That's what socialism is all about!

Francisco D said...

Hagar,

The charm, hard work and attentiveness comes from my Norwegian side.

Col Mustard said...

Joe's Crab Shack is doomed.

Working as a "tipped" employee in many states means you're likely making half the minimum wage at best. Kinda bleak if you don't like your job in the first place and couldn't care less about anyone outside your clique. On the other hand, if you like people and have half a brain you have one of the greatest "jobs" in the world. You "own" a business and have zero overhead. My wife's been a server and bartender forever. Her "job" is to make people glad they came in the door (even if the kitchen's closing in 10 minutes) and leave, looking forward to coming back. Simple, right? Not so much if you come to work hung-over or want to leave early to go to a party.

She's seen every version of Joe's Crab Shack, tip-skimming and tip-sharing scam come and go. Just another way of saying "redistribution", "social justice" or "spread the wealth around". Such plans will not elevate the performance of poor servers; quite the opposite. And the good people end up carrying even more of the load... until they leave.

By the way, I've lived in different Asian countries. Never even thought about tipping. Wonderful service. Different cultures. In Europe there is frequently small print on the menu or bill indicating "service included". Americans kind of mess up the system when they ignore that.

wildswan said...

I think the point about how tips are now going to be taxed salary at the Crab Shack is really important - it means that take-home pay is now actually decreased. So I'll avoid the Crab Shack. Waiters might be new and sort of OK - they won't be good. The good ones will move on.

Michael K said...

"you don't tip a surgeon or an accountant."

I have gotten several nice tips after successful surgery. The patients knew that Medicare or insurance would pay me a fraction of what I charged. Two gave me $500 cash in envelopes and one gave me an 18th century copy of Aesop's Fables.

I remember it after all these years because it was so rare. I still have the book.

There were a couple of other instances that are in my book.

Michael K said...

"In contrast, in countries with no tipping (mostly Japan), I'm used to much more attentive and discreet service."

That has not been my experience. For example, I can recall dining in Prunier in Paris, a very well known restaurant in the 70s when American were not popular in France. We were lucky to get served and they let us know it.

A few years ago, I had three teenagers and my wife in Tour D'Argent and the service was superb. I assume the staff knew a tip was on offer. Maybe they just liked Americans. The bill was 1500 Euros for dinner but it was worth it, almost.

I have not seen a European waitstaff turn up a nose at a tip. In Australia, of course, it is considered an insult.

Balfegor said...

Re: Michael K:

That has not been my experience. For example, I can recall dining in Prunier in Paris, a very well known restaurant in the 70s when American were not popular in France. We were lucky to get served and they let us know it.

Yes, that last bit is something I experience regularly at American restaurants -- when I say "humiliating" above, that is what I am talking about. I go in to ask to be seated, and the waitstaff (if they're even there) will not acknowledge me. And I am not talking about super-expensive, snooty restaurants here. I am talking about "nice" white tablecloth sit-down spots that are moderately expensive, but not particularly extravagant.

Anyhow I would consider Paris maybe a notch above NYC in quality of service, although the French are occasionally flagrantly rude (my father had a menu snatched from his hands without a word, once, when the restaurant ran out), so maybe those instances of rudeness ought to tip them below NYC. But yes, service in France is not especially good. Hong Kong and Tokyo lead the world in quality of service.

Col Mustard said...

"I think the point about how tips are now going to be taxed salary at the Crab Shack is really important - it means that take-home pay is now actually decreased."

That's funny. My wife's employer reports her earnings to IRS to include 8 percent of credit card sales. About $65K in her case. 8 percent... seriously :-) Want fries with that...

damikesc said...

I used to wait tables.

People "opposed to tipping" harm ONLY the server. The establishment got paid and, honestly, don't care if you tip the waiter.

However, once you get a rep of not tipping, don't be surprised if you get the bare minimum of service. My checks would be well less than $100 every two weeks if not for tipping. I wasn't being paid to be friendly or nice. I was being paid by the business to just be there.

Having lived in Asia and the UK, where tipping the server isn't the norm, I have to say I really dislike tipping. You don't leave enough, it hurts the server. You leave 20%, it's just what they expect. In order to leave a tip to delight them, you have to leave way too much. It is an awkward end to the meal. And confusing to foreign tourists who are here.

Not sure if you ever waited...but that is just not true. A small tip was fine. We recognized that not everybody had a ton of money (I personally bought a family a dessert who had won a gift card to my restaurant and couldn't normally afford to come). I declined their tip because they had very little money but were so exceedingly nice and friendly that it wasn't a big deal.

And the only waiters/waitresses who pulled the "forced gratuity" thing were either terrible or had dealt with the people who don't tip who decided to bring a lot of family to the restaurant and try and run you ragged (i.e, you're handing out drinks to a table of 20 and, before you're finished, one of the adults ask for a refill already).