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rich

Per Se

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eGullet's Steven A Shaw ("FatGuy") has this editorial in Wednesday's New York Times about Thomas Keller's decision to "abolish the practice of tipping at Per Se, his luxury restaurant in New York City, and replace it with a European-style service charge." FatGuy thinks this change is for the better, noting studies showing that tips aren't well correlated with service quality.

The story was also covered in this NY Post Page Six story on Monday. The Post's writers aren't so hot on the idea: "Let's hope this trend doesn't catch on," they say. Quoting an "inside source," they add: "Most of the service staff are planning on quitting at the end of this month when the salary changes happen." I find that a little difficult to believe.

The service charge will be a flat 20% of the bill. This means that patrons from the "double the tax" school of tipping will be paying a shade more for their experience at Per Se. I presume that high rollers who want to be generous will still find a way to slip twenty dollar bills into the hands of waitstaff who've gone the extra mile.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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eGullet's Steven A Shaw ("FatGuy") has this editorial in Wednesday's New York Times about Thomas Keller's decision to "abolish the practice of tipping at Per Se, his luxury restaurant in New York City, and replace it with a European-style service charge."

. . . .

As I post, there are already well over 200 posts on the Per Se ends tipping in favor of service charge thread, starting on the 8th of August, about this subject in the Food Media and News forum. Fat Guy's op-ed piece in first mentioned in post #77.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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There is a bar where they serve little things (truffled potato chips, I believe) but do no do anything like the full menu at all. There isn't any space for walk-ins - the restaurant doesn't seat that many. Best bet would be to call 2 or 3 days before and hope for the best, but it's not likely - they guarantee a couple of days in advance with a credit card, so not much in the way of no-shows, I would think.


I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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The last mention on this board about prices at Per Se was that all menus had been bumped up to $175. I just looked at the website and it says that the 5-course, 9-course veggie, and the 9-course chefs menus are all $210. Those prices seem to be getting steeper by the month. I find it hard to believe that a vegetarian course can command the same prices as meat, foie, caviar dishes.

For those of you that have dined there, do you think this restaurant is above other restaurants charging $135 for 7-9 courses? When it comes to meals like this, money is fairly well spent, but i'm wondering why there is such a discrepancy from other restaurants such as Daniel, etc.


Edited by babern38 (log)

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The last mention on this board about prices at Per Se was that all menus had been bumped up to $175.  I just looked at the website and it says that the 5-course, 9-course veggie, and the 9-course chefs menus are all $210.  Those prices seem to be getting steeper by the month.  I find it hard to believe that a vegetarian course can command the same prices as meat, foie, caviar dishes. 

For those of you that have dined there, do you think this restaurant is above other restaurants charging $135 for 7-9 courses?  When it comes to meals like this, money is fairly well spent, but i'm wondering why there is such a discrepancy from other restaurants such as Daniel, etc.

The $210 price is with the new service charge included.


Robert R

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service charge meaning tip?

Exactly.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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. . . . When it comes to meals like this, money is fairly well spent, but i'm wondering why there is such a discrepancy from other restaurants such as Daniel, etc.

When Per Se was $175, I think we paid about somewhere around $168 for the long tasting menu at Daniel. It may have been a course shorter, but it's really hard to measure those things because of the size of courses as well as the fact that sometimes you get two separate preparations on a tray that could easily count as two courses from Daniel. Desserts don't seem to be measured fully either. My overall impression was that Daniel was the more solid meal although Per Se hit a few highs that I wouldn't have wanted to miss. The discrepency with Daniel is that it serves three course meals as a base. Per Se only serves that long menu. In fact, I believe Daniel doesn't serve the eight course tasting menu on Friday and Saturday evenings. In spite of the elevated price, they probably make less profit per diner, per hour on it than on the three course prix fixe meal.

From Daniel Boulud's web site:

Three Course Prix Fixe $92

Four Course Prix Fixe $103

Five Course Prix Fixe $125

Eight Course Chef's Tasting Menu $168

I think the math suggests the value meal is at the high end, although some times five or six courses is really enough.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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. . . . When it comes to meals like this, money is fairly well spent, but i'm wondering why there is such a discrepancy from other restaurants such as Daniel, etc.

When Per Se was $175, I think we paid about somewhere around $168 for the long tasting menu at Daniel.

The menu at Per Se is still $175. They have simply included the service charge in the price, which no other major New York restaurant does. Leaving that factor aside, there's only an irrelevant $7 difference between the comparable menus at Per Se and Daniel. (I realize Daniel has lower-priced options, and Per Se does not; in that sense, they are not comparable.)

Far be it from me to tell Thomas Keller how to run a restaurant, but I think it would have made more sense to say, "All menus are $175, to which a 20% service charge will be added," than to say, "All menus are $210."

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Far be it from me to tell Thomas Keller how to run a restaurant, but I think it would have made more sense to say, "All menus are $175, to which a 20% service charge will be added," than to say, "All menus are $210."

He could probably charge $250 and still be booked two months in advance.

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Far be it from me to tell Thomas Keller how to run a restaurant, but I think it would have made more sense to say, "All menus are $175, to which a 20% service charge will be added," than to say, "All menus are $210."

He could probably charge $250 and still be booked two months in advance.

Why stop there. My serious guess is price won't/doesn't affect Per Se's business until it reaches $450- 500 per person plateau. With the clientele he's now attracting, a $1,000 per couple is insignificant. Most of his clients use that number

as petty cash.

Hey, at that point all staff members' salaries should be at six figures based on the service charge. How do I become a busser at Per Se?


Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I just got back from a trip to Paris dining at several one and two star restaurants (Michelin) that made Per Se seem eminently fair and reasonable in pricing, relative to the food, space/ambiance, and service delivered.

New Yorkers should count their lucky stars. :cool:

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I just looked at the website and it says that the 5-course, 9-course veggie, and the 9-course chefs menus are all $210.  Those prices seem to be getting steeper by the month.  I find it hard to believe that a vegetarian course can command the same prices as meat, foie, caviar dishes. 

If you knew how much skill it takes to prepare vegetables like that, you probably wouldn't find it so hard to believe.
Far be it from me to tell Thomas Keller how to run a restaurant, but I think it would have made more sense to say, "All menus are $175, to which a 20% service charge will be added," than to say, "All menus are $210."
Like at the bottom of the Applebee's menu, where it says that gratuity will be added to parties of more than 8, and maybe add "$5.00 charge for splitting entrees?"

Imagine if they did put that blurb on the menu. Can't you see someone arguing with teh GM over their right to tip 15%? "How dare you tell me how much money to give your waiters."


"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office

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Far be it from me to tell Thomas Keller how to run a restaurant, but I think it would have made more sense to say, "All menus are $175, to which a 20% service charge will be added," than to say, "All menus are $210."

Imagine if they did put that blurb on the menu. Can't you see someone arguing with teh GM over their right to tip 15%? "How dare you tell me how much money to give your waiters."

I was referring to the website. I haven't been there since the changeover, but I'm sure that the restaurant menu makes clear, as they do in Europe, that service is included.

I was also responding to the person who said, "Those prices seem to be getting steeper by the month." This is not the case.

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fabfoodbabe--- as a cia girl yoself you should know that the cost of cook labor at per se (almost nothing for cooks), as opposed to the cost of protein....is significant. preparing vegetables definitely requires a lot of skills and time and labor, but the cost of hiring another cook or four (at what, $10/hr? $12?) is nothing compared to the cost of buying meat. is the price justified? maybe. i would never order a vegetarian menu. how silly.

getxo- maybe its just the shitty value of the dollar right now? if you convert euro prices to how much dinner costs you in dollars....thats a bad way to look at it, considering your income is dollars and not euros. then again, in france, if you are going to dine out, usually it is done proper, and so it costs more (on average).

rich--- you'd be surprised with regards to how much money from your tip does not go to the waiters who served you. tips get split between management (yes, they always take their share), sommeliers, bartenders, captains, front waiters, back waiters, busboys. also a percentage is taken out for credit card charges. and finally, all tips are taxed. heavily. so if you as a server may make $700 in service charges a night, you may only make $250 a night, before taxes. no 6 figure incomes there buddy. sorry to burst your bubble.

interesting to note.....

per se is currently hiring a service director, and has been constantly looking for servers since may 2005. (craigslist)

my $.02


Edited by chefboy24 (log)

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[...]rich--- you'd be surprised with regards to how much money from your tip does not go to the waiters who served you.  tips get split between management (yes, they always take their share)[...]

I thought that constituting tip-stealing and constituted a form of fraud. Waiters sending part of the tip to busboys, sommeliers, et al. is perfectly reasonable, though.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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there's no fraud going on.....

in the finer restaurants of manhattan all the service charges go into one big pool (cash and credit card). there are either point systems or percentage systems that split up the service money collected accordingly.....management will usually take a small hit, sommeliers too, front waiters and captains receiving the largest percentage, back waiters less so, busboys even less.

and then of course, taxes.

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I wonder what percentage of diners know that part of their tips always go to management, and what they would think of that. I think many of us know that tip-stealing takes place in a lot of Chinatown restaurants, but I doubt that most of us knew this was happening -- albeit at a lower percentage -- at high-end places. But then, I think perhaps this is best discussed on another thread, so I started one.


Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan

 

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Well I had my second dinner at Per Se two nights ago. In general I found the food to be outstanding, much in line with my first visit. There was however, a major glitch during dinner.

It's no secret that not everybody gets the same service and the same food in a place like Per Se (as it may very well be the case in many other restaurants). In the table right behind us sat a well known food writer who was being served, among other dishes not in the menu, a dish with white truffles. When I asked the waiter what they were having, he was somewhat evasive, but admitted that they were having a dish with white truffles that was off the menu. When I asked him why he hadn't mentioned it to us, he said that they had "just arrived, only 15 minutes ago" (note it was 9:30pm). When I asked whether we could order it (and pay whatever additional fee), he seemed evasive again, and politely responded that we could not. We weren't demanding a special progression of dishes like they were having, we just wanted to try ONE dish, and we couldn't.

This put a huge damper on the remainder of our dinner. Because we felt that we were lied to (about them "just arriving") and we felt like we were told "I don't care how long you waited to eat here and how much you are spending for your dinner here, you are not good enough to try our best dishes, even if you request them".

Sadly, it left me with very little desire to go back. The idea of going to a place like this, spending this much money and still not being able to try the best dishes is very disturbing. The whole incident just left a very bad taste in my mouth.


Arley Sasson

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THAT is interesting.

it's very hard to say no to a guest..... i've been trained and automatically i cringe when i say no. he should have at least told management what you were thinking and checked in the kitchen before saying no.

as a waiter, the only time i will say no...... is when a guest asks to make a ridiculous alteration to a plate.

for example one time on a lunch $20 prix fixe menu i had a guest demand a plate of sliced avacodo for her ap (isntead of the mixed green salad with wild mushrooms, avacado, and bacon).....saying that she couldn't eat anything raw.

i wanted to stick it to her and say "listen you dumb bitch avacado is raw and if you dont want this dish then order off the real goddamn menu you cheap jersey trash"

but out loud i actually said "unfortunately i can't create a dish for you, there are 2 options on the priced fixed menu for your first course, and we can also do a mixed green salad as well). then i smiled and bounced.

sorry to hear you got a firm "no" from the waitstaff.

then again they have been hiring waiters since may on craigslist, and i saw an ad for "service director" go up recently as well.

maybe the service really isn't what its cracked up to me. i wouldn't be surprised.


Edited by chefboy24 (log)

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It's possible that the restaurant got a very limited quantity in that first shipment -- a couple of days ago was when a lot of American places got their first, very small white truffles via FedEx, and they may only have received an ounce or two in that shipment. In which case, they may all have been spoken for. Although, if that was the case, it should have been explained to you that all the truffles were pre-ordered/pre-committed. Just saying no is not really the way to go.


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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