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Arbol Cafe


KatieLoeb
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Anyone else catch this glowing review in this week's Philly Weekly? The place sounds adorable and the food sounds right up my alley. Anyone been yet? Anyone game to go? I'll be pretty busy the next week or so with work, Bluecoat Bartender Battle and then Passover, but I'd gladly take one for the team and check this place out sometime soon if anyone wants to join me. I'd love to try some authentic yerba mate tea. Sounds delicious! Paraguayan cuisine has been sorely neglected here in my recollection...

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Anyone else catch this glowing review in this week's Philly Weekly?  The place sounds adorable and the food sounds right up my alley.  Anyone been yet?  Anyone game to go?  I'll be pretty busy the next week or so with work, Bluecoat Bartender Battle and then Passover, but I'd gladly take one for the team and check this place out sometime soon if anyone wants to join me.  I'd love to try some authentic yerba mate tea.  Sounds delicious!  Paraguayan cuisine has been sorely neglected here in my recollection...

Yerba mate is mos' def' an acquired taste, Katie. Although I suppose the stuff I've tried were all just poor and/or inauthentic iterations.

Place does sound fun, whatever Paraguayan food might turn out to be...

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thanks for the link. interesting discussion. i wonder if the owners are reporting those tips they're keeping on their 1040's. seeing as it's tax season and all.........

i would be really pissed off if i found out a tip i left was kept from the server by the owner. they need to disclose that practice to their customers immeadiately.

eta: is this practice even legal? not disclosing to patrons that their tips, intended for the waitstaff, are going into some renovation fund. just seems slimy to me.

if your paying your waitstaff enough so they don't have to rely on tips, they damn well better inform the customers of this fact. the customer should be able to make a decision if they want to leave a tip that amounts to a donation to a renovation fund.

Edited by wkl (log)
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thanks for the link. interesting discussion. i wonder if the owners are reporting those tips they're keeping on their 1040's. seeing as it's tax season and all.........

i would be really pissed off if i found out a tip i left was kept from the server by the owner. they need to disclose that practice to their customers immeadiately.

eta: is this practice even legal? not disclosing to patrons that their tips, intended for the waitstaff, are going into some renovation fund. just seems slimy to me.

if your paying your waitstaff enough so they don't have to rely on tips, they damn well better inform the customers of this fact. the customer should be able to make a decision if they want to leave a tip that amounts to a donation to a renovation fund.

I am reasonably sure it is outright illegal. I seem to recall at least one specific instance of exactly this practice making the news... Don't recall. Wish my brain worked better than it does.

Keller does something somewhat analogous, but he does it right: Per Se charges a sevice fee, and then divides the proceeds among the staff. As Arbol is doing it (and I simply cannot believe they confirmed it for the record - and seem proud of this) it is deceptive vis-a-vis the customer (the tip becoming in effect an additional, undisclosed charge), and it is outright criminal with regard to the waitstaff.

An above-the-board alternative would be to have a no-tipping policy, and then solicit donations, somehow. That way everyone would know where they stand.

I for one am not going anyhere near the place until I'm certain they've changed this practice.

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We haven't eaten there yet, but have driven by lately.

They have just finished building an outside brick pizza oven.

Or, that's what we thought it was, but we talked to someone as we drove by, and they are intent on grilling meats, etc. outside.

The concept and the actual oven itself, looks cool.

Philly Francophiles

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I am reasonably sure it is outright illegal. I seem to recall at least one specific instance of exactly this practice making the news... Don't recall. Wish my brain worked better than it does.

Keller does something somewhat analogous, but he does it right: Per Se charges a sevice fee, and then divides the proceeds among the staff. As Arbol is doing it (and I simply cannot believe they confirmed it for the record - and seem proud of this) it is deceptive vis-a-vis the customer (the tip becoming in effect an additional, undisclosed charge), and it is outright criminal with regard to the waitstaff.

An above-the-board alternative would be to have a no-tipping policy, and then solicit donations, somehow. That way everyone would know where they stand.

I for one am not going anyhere near the place until I'm certain they've changed this practice.

You may be thinking of Starbucks? The salaried managers were taking part (or all??) of the tips along with the employees who were paid hourly. That was in the news recently. I am all for an equal allocation of the tips a la Keller, as I know the back of the house often makes out worse than the FOH. However, I agree with you entirely that the customer should be aware of whatever is being done.

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You may be thinking of Starbucks? 

Thankyouthankyouthankyou! That's it, yeah. Although now my memory is jogged I also remember that this was not a criminal matter, it was an NLRB ruling. Which was memorable because you don't get many from this Board that are pro-labor. Which sort of goes to how not acceptable the behavior is.

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We haven't eaten there yet, but have driven by lately.

They have just finished building an outside brick pizza oven.

Or, that's what we thought it was, but we talked to someone as we drove by, and they are intent on grilling meats, etc. outside.

The concept and the actual oven itself, looks cool.

Rick Nichols showed the restaurant much love recently, and discussed the outdoor grill plans here.

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I have been there many times and never had a bad meal. The owners are very nice and bruinch is great as well. It is a place i hope the NLIBS neighbors will support. It will be missed for me because i am no longer near by.

<span style='color:red'><i>Todd Lean

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I have been there many times and never had a bad meal. The owners are very nice and bruinch is great as well. It is a place i hope the NLIBS neighbors will support. It will be missed for me because i am no longer near by.

Sorry - I don't care how good brunch is, or how nice the owners may be - there is now a virtual picket line in front of the door that I just won't cross (and I love grilled meats). That policy of collecting their workers' tips for "renovations" is just wrong.

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Sorry for my comments above. I didn't read into the story enough. As a past owner of a restaurant and seen how hard some servers work in this city. I think i will forget i even said anything. I can't support any restaurant with those policies.

MAN DO I FEEL SMALL!

Edited by lamando (log)

<span style='color:red'><i>Todd Lean

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I'm with Capaneus. There is no way in hell I'd go anywhere that cheated my hardworking brethren out of their tips. Without disclosing it, no less. That's wrong on so many levels, I don't even know which one to address first. I wear those same well worn shoes. I cannot in good conscience support that practice in any way shape or form. Uh-uh.

Bummer. I was looking forward to trying this place, but until I hear that the tipping situation has been resolved, I'll neither set foot in the place nor recommend it to anyone. What they're doing is unbelievably sleazy and self-serving. And to try and paint it as somehow noble is both ridiculous and delusional. I'd have more respect for them if they just straight up admitted to what they were doing.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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The fact that the owners did admit to what they were doing makes me think that they are more deluded than just plain old greedy or evil. I think they sincerely think that what they're doing is OK. That doesn't make it OK, but I don't think they were scheming to secretly rip-off the waitstaff, it seems that the workers knew what was up.

If Arbol Cafe has found servers who are happy to work under their system, I suppose that's between them. But I agree that the owners need to be clear about what is happening. That's easy enough. They just need to write on the menu, or on each check, "service is included but we gratefully accept donations to help renovate the restaurant" or some such thing. That way the customer knows what's going on.

But it's not totally black-and-white: the fact is that all kinds of things happen to tips that you as a customer may or may not intend. A lot of places pool tips, so that fantastic gratuity you just left your server might be getting split with a bunch of folks who never did anything for you. Maybe your waiter was great, but the busboy dropped dirty plates on you, the bartender made you a terrible drink, and the host was a jerk. Guess what, those guys are getting some of whatever tip you left. So it's not as if customers have complete control over what happens to tips we leave.

That said, I'm in agreement with the above sentiments: the assumption is that tips go to the servers, and I'm not dining there until this issue is straightened out. If they adopt a service-charge-included pricing structure and pay their staff enough that they don't need tips, more power to them. If they want to solicit donations to help with the restaurant renovations, fine. They just need to be clear about what's what.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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It just goes to show that if you wait long enough, a totally delusional, off the charts restaurant owner will reveal himself. This guy is on another planet.

Rich Pawlak

 

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Food Writer At Large

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I for one am not going anyhere near the place until I'm certain they've changed this practice.

I wouldn't go that far... there's a great restaurant across the street! :biggrin:

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Philadining is correct. Whatever tipping/wage arrangement they have with their staff is fine as long as everyone is on the same page. I've seen plenty of strange arrangements, believe me. I'd even give the owner the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps this is a cultural issue/misunderstanding because he comes from a place/culture where waitstaff makes a living wage and tips aren't the majority of service staff income. But the wife is American, local no less, and even if she has never been a waitress, surely knows someone who has, grew up in this culture where tipping significant percentage is the norm, etc. She does know better. The lack of honesty to the customers is inexcuseable. She knows the guests think their tips are going to the waitstaff. That's not cool. It's deceptive in the best light and undoubtedly self-serving. No excuse.

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Philadining is correct.  Whatever tipping/wage arrangement they have with their staff is fine as long as everyone is on the same page.  I've seen plenty of strange arrangements, believe me.  I'd even give the owner the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps this is a cultural issue/misunderstanding because he comes from a place/culture where waitstaff makes a living wage and tips aren't the majority of service staff income.  But the wife is American, local no less, and even if she has never been a waitress, surely knows someone who has, grew up in this culture where tipping significant percentage is the norm, etc.  She does know better.  The lack of honesty to the customers is inexcuseable.  She knows the guests think their tips are going to the waitstaff.  That's not cool. It's deceptive in the best light and undoubtedly self-serving. No excuse.

Oscar (one of the owners) was a former waiter at Fellini's Cafe in Ardmore. Wonder if he kept his tips?

If you want to try their food, fine but tip the waitstaff directly and tell the owners why.

Edited by marinade (log)

Jim Tarantino

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