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Top US restaurants with service included


Fat Guy
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It seems to me that, quietly, some of the top restaurants in the US have switched over from the gratuity model to the service charge model. Without passing judgment (we have several topics on that), I was hoping we could create a list of top restaurants that now have service charges. I'm talking about a service charge for all tables, not just for large parties.

French Laundry

Per Se

Charlie Trotter's

Others?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think this is a good thing BUT if service is included I hope, if it spreads, that they don't when the credit card bill arrive leave the gratuity space blank. In the UK if your not careful you can end up paying twice for service.

Also how is the money distributed, I've known a places where the staff got nothing, another where the manager (also owner) got 40% of the service charge, FOH 30%, BOH 30%, Receptionists 0% - even if the receptionist was given a cash tip it had to be put into the tip pool - if the didn't and found out, instant dismissal!

Done well it stops worker getting stiffed, can give recognition to BOH as well of FOH for a job well done and also allow the customer to add extra if service/food is excellent.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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What a horrible trend! If you want to raise the price then raise the price. Don't take my tip (I do 20% unless offended grossly) and make it a required surcharge.

And is the "tip" on the wine too? If I buy a zillion dollar bottle did anyone do more work than if I bought a $50 one? No I don't think so. Was I served any better? No to that too.

I've eaten at Trotters and it was just OK. Not worth the offense of a tax on my dinner.

Horrible horrible horrible offensive insulting idea from joints that will do whatever they can get away with.

Shame on them and their greedy clan.

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What a horrible trend!  If you want  to raise the price then  raise the price.  Don't take my tip (I do 20% unless offended grossly) and make it a required surcharge.

And is the "tip" on the wine too?  If I buy a zillion dollar bottle did anyone do more work than if I bought a $50 one?  No I don't think so.  Was I served any better?  No to that too.

I've eaten at Trotters and it was just OK.  Not worth the offense of a tax on my dinner. 

Horrible horrible horrible offensive insulting idea from joints that will do whatever they can get away with. 

Shame on them and their greedy clan.

Um, I think you may misunderstand the idea. The idea isn't really that a standard 20% gratuity is added to the bill, it's more like the "service charge" is included in the price for the meal. Like, the menus at these places are fixed price, so the service is just included in the bill. You pay 250 flat...service included. Not like, you order whatever and then they tack on the tip at the end.

Hope I made sense, I'm not really the best at explaining things.

I actually think it is a good trend, like I said, I obviously think that the cooks getting better wages is great.

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What a horrible trend!  If you want  to raise the price then  raise the price.  Don't take my tip (I do 20% unless offended grossly) and make it a required surcharge.

And is the "tip" on the wine too?  If I buy a zillion dollar bottle did anyone do more work than if I bought a $50 one?  No I don't think so.  Was I served any better?  No to that too.

I've eaten at Trotters and it was just OK.  Not worth the offense of a tax on my dinner. 

Horrible horrible horrible offensive insulting idea from joints that will do whatever they can get away with. 

Shame on them and their greedy clan.

Um, I think you may misunderstand the idea. The idea isn't really that a standard 20% gratuity is added to the bill, it's more like the "service charge" is included in the price for the meal. Like, the menus at these places are fixed price, so the service is just included in the bill. You pay 250 flat...service included. Not like, you order whatever and then they tack on the tip at the end.

Hope I made sense, I'm not really the best at explaining things.

I actually think it is a good trend, like I said, I obviously think that the cooks getting better wages is great.

Oh, that's different.

Nevermind.

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Incanto in San Francisco includes a partial service charge in their bill.

To quote their website:

Incanto is one of a small number of U.S. restaurants that includes a partial service charge (5% of the total bill) on each diner's check because we are concerned about the widening wage inequities that exist between tipped employees and non-tipped employees in San Francisco's restaurants. Although our talented, hard-working waiters and bussers deservedly receive much of the recognition and financial reward for serving your dinner, our equally diligent cooks and dishwashers also provide a critical part of your service. We use the funds from this service charge to offer comprehensive medical benefits to all our full-time employees and to share part of the rewards from each night's work with non-tipped kitchen employees.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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No. Incanto adds a 5% service charge to their bill. Fat Guy et al are talking about places that include service in the price of the meal. The French Laundry for example charges $240 for dinner and service is included (though tax isn't, and people frequently leave an additional tip).

Incanto in San Francisco includes a partial service charge in their bill.

To quote their website:

Incanto is one of a small number of U.S. restaurants that includes a partial service charge (5% of the total bill) on each diner's check because we are concerned about the widening wage inequities that exist between tipped employees and non-tipped employees in San Francisco's restaurants. Although our talented, hard-working waiters and bussers deservedly receive much of the recognition and financial reward for serving your dinner, our equally diligent cooks and dishwashers also provide a critical part of your service. We use the funds from this service charge to offer comprehensive medical benefits to all our full-time employees and to share part of the rewards from each night's work with non-tipped kitchen employees.

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What's the difference between an X% service charge added to the bill and an X% service charge added to every item ordered?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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No.  Incanto adds a 5% service charge to their bill.[...]

Yes, and for a good reason, as your quote explains. But doesn't it confuse some of their customers into thinking there's no need to pay an additional tip?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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What's the difference between an X% service charge added to the bill and an X% service charge added to every item ordered?

Huh? Maybe we're talking about two different things here...

The French Laundry offers two menus that change on a daily basis. The 9-course Chef’s Tasting Menu and the 9-course Vegetable Tasting Menu which are designed by Chef Keller and his staff to showcase the best seasonal products available. Both menus are priced at $240.00 each (service charge included)

The menu price includes service. It used to be added as a line item at the bottom of the bill as Incanto does (I agree with their reason for doing so, and no - I don't think people believe that the 5% charge is in place of a tip). I was under the apparently mistaken impression that this was the topic of this thread...

Are you trying to make a list of places that add a service charge to customers bills rather than leaving them to decide how much to tip or are we discussing restaurants that include service in the menu price?

Edited by melkor (log)
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Are you trying to make a list of places that add a service charge to customers bills rather than leaving them to decide how much to tip or are we discussing restaurants that include service in the menu price?

As there appears to be no real difference, both.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Are you trying to make a list of places that add a service charge to customers bills rather than leaving them to decide how much to tip or are we discussing restaurants that include service in the menu price?

As there appears to be no real difference, both.

At one restaurant you pay what is written on the menu plus tax, at another you pay what is written on the menu plus 20% plus tax, at most restaurants you pay what is written on the menu plus tax plus gratuity. Is there really no difference there?

The only restaurants I know of that include service in the price of the meal are Per Se and The French Laundry. Trotters, Moto, and others treat all customers the way TGI Friday's handles large groups and adds the service charge to the bill as a line item. I'd guess that the 17-18% service charge irritates people who normally tip 15%. I also suspect most people that normally tip 20% wouldn't bother adding another 2 or 3 percent to the total since service is already covered.

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If one restaurant includes a 20% service charge on a $200 menu and writes it on the menu as $240 including service, and another restaurant has a $200 menu and adds 20% service on the bill for a total of $240, then they are both charging $200 for food and $40 for service.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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But, are per se and The French Laundry the only restaurants on the list which only serve tasting menus?

(I could have sworn they used to have some sort of a la carte dining. Do they not anymore?)

I mean, that sort of simplifies things, if everyone is getting charged the same for food anyway.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Per Se charges one set menu price for everyone.

as a sidenote, there is a clear difference between having service included in the menu price and having a gratuity added on to the bill (as many restaurants do in tourist areas and many also do for parties of six more). the first is enforceable (its part of the price of the meal)...the second is not. now if a restaurant instead of putting the "gratuity" on the bill put a "service charge" or "cover" (as often seen in Europe)...that could change matters.

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If one restaurant includes a 20% service charge on a $200 menu and writes it on the menu as $240 including service, and another restaurant has a $200 menu and adds 20% service on the bill for a total of $240, then they are both charging $200 for food and $40 for service.

That doesn't hold true if you're ordering wine. With the 'service included' model the restaurant has much more leeway when it comes to pricing their wine program. If service is going to be calculated for the customer, I think it should be included in the menu price.

Another thing bugs me about the restaurant including the service charge as a line item - it's taxed differently. Let's say you live in some math-friendly imaginary place with 10% sales tax. You go to two different restaurants that charge $200/person for dinner. One place includes a 20% service charge, the other doesn't. The restaurant that includes the service charge brings you a bill for dinner that says $200 (dinner) + $40 (service) + $24 (tax), you pay $264 for your meal and go home. The other restaurant brings you a bill without service included, it says $200 (dinner) + $20 (tax), you leave a 20% ($44) tip, pay your $264 and go home. Both meals cost you the same amount, one server gets a 10% larger tip.

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But, are per se and The French Laundry the only restaurants on the list which only serve  tasting menus?

(I could have sworn they used to have some sort of a la carte dining.  Do they not anymore?)

I mean, that sort of simplifies things, if everyone is getting charged the same for food anyway.

I don't believe Per Se has ever had any sort of a la carte option and for at least the past decade The French Laundry hasn't either - before then, I don't know.

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If the price of every bottle of wine includes a 20% service charge, it's the same as adding 20% to the bill. If not, not.

What eje is probably referring to is that, when Per Se opened, it had a five-course menu option, with choices for each course. It phased that out, I believe last year, and now requires everybody to have the long menu.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If the price of every bottle of wine includes a 20% service charge, it's the same as adding 20% to the bill. If not, not.

I agree completely that if every bottle of wine includes a 20% service charge that it is the same as adding 20% to the bill. That has nothing to do with what I was saying, but I'll bow out of this conversation since clearly I'm not getting my point across.

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