Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The concept of "pooling tips" in restaurants


Gifted Gourmet
 Share

Recommended Posts

the more this thread extends, the better the argument for the European system, which -- granted -- generally excludes the potential for 20 percent but also eliminates this sub-minimum-wage, minimal-health-care crud that's been allowed to flourish.

i say this as someone who'll top 20 for great service and seriously deduct for poor service. by that token, i guess i'm not an advocate for pooled tips, though i can't think of any other reasonable way for BOH, buspeople, sommeliers and the like to get their share. (assuming you think they should get a share.)

of course, my entire family has been known to dock the overall tip for lackluster service and quietly slip a couple bills to an outstanding server or wine steward. sure, it circumvents the system -- but it's a screwy system. this at least approximates the European version, in that individual performance can still be rewarded off the books.

but there must be a better way to attract more servers who consider the job a profession, not a waystation. maybe a proper wage, for starters?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting thread.

Minimum wage in British Columbia is $8.00 per hour. Our average tipo in my restaurant is 18.5 %. This is not bad. The waiters "tip pool" 3% of that to the kitchen which gets divided once a month. It is like an extra paycheque for the cooks.

As the owner of the restaurant , chef, wine steward, busboy and bartender at different points in the week, I do not think it any great hardship for the servers to share some of the gratuity as we all know that they did not complete everything on their own.

I have worked at places that ownership has used tip pool to top up a managers wage, keeping the owners management wage burden a little lighter. I do not think that that is right.

Are there occasions when I think a server might " throw a bone " to the manager who just sold, poured and topped up a $1000.00 of wine on a table that the waiter will see at least 15 % on. Sure why not , there is lots of money to go around and it would certainly make for a better working enviroment , with less resentment but that is between them and not for ownership to step in and decide that.

Once the house decides a tip pool policy, they owner should rarely step in and make adjustments. Over the long run , it always works out.

Family run restaurants are a whole differnent ball of wax - I am looking forward to having my kids was dishes and bus tables but that is at least 15 years in the future :biggrin::biggrin:

I mean , hey , I gave them life, :raz: right ?

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Minimum wage in British Columbia is $8.00 per hour.

Nwyles, so does that mean that waiters in BC never get paid below minimum wage? (At least in the restaurants that are following the law?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not that I know of.

There is such thing as a training wage ( $6.00 per hour ) but I do not know if anybody has ever used it. It was something the government brought in to appease the masses who bitched about the $8.00 wage. It can only be used for 100 hours or 3 months as far as I am aware.

I think we have the highest Min. wage in Canada. The tough thing about that is when that went up , other staff were there with their hand out wanting a raise as well. It pretty much became an across the board raise and the only loser was the restaurant operator. IMHO

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The servers in your town are earning just $2.13 and hour AND 20% of the restaurant sales and sales tax.  Very profitable brow sweat. 

I feel a need to point out that not everyone, or even a majority of everyone, tips 20%, much less tips 20% on the total after tax. Some people tip 15%. Some tip 10%. Some tip less than 10%. Some regularly tip 5%. Some think 50 cents a person is still a good tip.

And some people never ever tip anyone under any circumstances. That's just the way things are.

When did it become customary to calculate the tip on the after-tax total? Or is it?

I've always calculated 20% on the pre-tax total because taxes vary so much across this great land of ours. (That 20% being the starting point, of course, the actual tip may rise or fall from there depending on the quality of service.)

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When did it become customary to calculate the tip on the after-tax total? Or is it?

Ok pre tax is $100 and lets say with tax is $110

So we are talking $20 to $22. Let your enjoyment of your food, service and atmosphere guide you in the spending of the extra $2.

Now that your understand that those $ have to go a little further, blow the budget and leave the money ! Or not if service sucked.

Now , how many people just leave a crappy tip and not say why. How many people point out the errors and the reasoning.

Don't get me wrong, I am not being snobby here , I am just curious. I for one have never pointed out the errors of a servers ways and hoped that the less than fantastic tip was message enough. But were they understanding that or did they just think I was a cheapo.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not that I know of.

There is such thing as a training wage ( $6.00 per hour ) but I do not know if anybody has ever used it. It was something the government brought in to appease the masses who bitched about the $8.00 wage. It can only be used for 100 hours or 3 months as far as I am aware.

I think we have the highest Min. wage in Canada. The tough thing about that is when that went up , other staff were there with their hand out wanting a raise as well. It pretty much became an across the board raise and the only loser was the restaurant operator. IMHO

Neil,

Actually, I think the highest minimum wage is either the Yukon or NWT - $8.50, with the lowest being Alberta, at $5.90. My impression is that the training wage is to offset the economic effects of high turnover in the restaurant business, and it is only in effect for three months. Quebec has a training wage too, I believe, and tips there are not, as I understand it, simply between the server and the customer. Employers are required to remit taxes on those tips, which makes it something of a bureaucratic nightmare. Quebec employers stagger under the highest payroll taxes in the country. BTW, though I have lived in Nova Scotia for 5 years, I am from Vancouver - shall look forward to a visit next time I'm home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The topic of "training wage" was recently touched upon. I believe this needs much more attention and I wonder why servers and line cooks don't raise holy hell over it, or the lack thereof. At least in New York.

It is customary not to pay anything to restaurant employees in training. Highly illegal, but it seems to be taken for granted and is accepted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to be a busser in a restaurant that tipped out the cooks and bussers, but not the dishwashers.

My mother works as kitchen managaer/cook at a tavern. She had worked for the owner at his previous tavern, which he sold. At that tavern, there was a counter/window that people could go up to and talk to her. It also had her tip jar. The second tavern didn't. They actually do a lot of business just because of the food, so the owner started requiring his waitstaff/bartenders to tip out the kitchen staff. For a while, they had to pool all of their tips because they had problems where some waitstaff would pick up not only their tips, but they'd go to other sections and pick up other peoples' tips.

Misa

Sweet Misa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the explanations. I get the difference now.

This is the reason that so many hotels use the term gratuity not service charge and in some cases both. For example many fine hotels will place a flat service charge on your room service order in addition to a mandatory %x gratuity. Some go even further and then leave a blank line for an additional gratuity.

Many hotels and caterers here add an 18% service charge for banquets and guests assume it's a gratuity BUT the waiters never see a dime beyond the $7.70 per hour salary (and they wonder why they can only get the walking wounded as servers).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

doubtless someone has already suggested this but if not, and at the risk of being branded a communist or union-supporter (better dead than red, right people?), what would be the argument against the following system:

all waiters pool the portion of their tip upto 15% of the bill--since that is what you would get merely by not dropping the soup on the patron or sticking a finger in their rectum* (in other words in most restaurants you don't really have to do much to earn a 15% tip). any tip you earn over that 15% of the bill is yours. this way you safeguard against your co-workers being stiffed by people like me, and you get to keep what you get for going over and beyond.

*then again i haven't eaten at the avant garde places--perhaps there's some kinds of truffles that can be best enjoyed while a supercillious waiter sticks a finger up your ass.

Edited by mongo_jones (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

all waiters pool the portion of their tip upto 15% of the bill--since that is what you would get merely by not dropping the soup on the patron or sticking a finger in their rectum* (in other words in most restaurants you don't really have to do much to earn a 15% tip).

You're kidding me, right? You must not have waited tables in a long, long time, or possibly ever.

"don't really have to do much to earn a 15% tip." That statement really boggles my mind. Do you know how many people I've waited on who feel it's perfectly acceptable, right, noble and normal to leave someone a tip of $3 on a tab of $75? Do you know how many people feel that the 20% rule only applies up to the point where the tip equals $20, even if we're talking about an $800 tab for a party of 20? Do you know how many people find out at the end of their meal that they don't have enough money to pay their entire bill, much less tip their server, so they leave a pile of wadded up cash, $10 short of what they owe on the table with a hurried, "Thanks for the great service. Bye!" as they run out the door? How about the guy who only eats out once a year, takes his whole family out for dinner and racks up a $100 tab and then proudly, his face beaming with pleasure, places a $5 bill on the table while saying to the waitress, "There's your teee-yup!"

Heck, I've even been stiffed by a person who worked for the same fine dining company that I worked for, simply because her employer gave her a $15 gift certificate, but it was the sort of gift certificate that you can't use for the tip or taxes, and that was all she handed me for her $13 and change bill as she ducked out the door.

"don't really have to do much to earn a 15% tip." I keep looking at that statement, and I just can't believe it. I work in an area where people tip very well compared to the national average, but I have seen some truly appalling behavior as far as tipping.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think mongo was saying you don't have to do much other than offer very ordinary or somewhat less than ordinary service to get 15%. I agree. Of course you'll run into exceptions (cheapskates and the uneducated in cultural mores.) A lot depends on geographics (Boise vs. NYC) and the type of restaurant (family/chain vs. upscale.) But I'd have to guess 9 times out of 10 the tip will be at least 15% in an upscale restaurant in a major city unless the server goes out of the way to merit a pittance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"don't really have to do much to earn a 15% tip." I keep looking at that statement, and I just can't believe it. I work in an area where people tip very well compared to the national average, but I have seen some truly appalling behavior as far as tipping.

yes, and this is why pooling of all tips upto 15% would protect waiters in these circumstances. in this case it wouldn't make much difference whether your service had been exemplary, crappy or just so-so: a cheapskate is a cheapskate.

as glenn points out i am not suggesting that everyone always tips at least 15%--i am suggesting only that when tips in excess of 15% come in the part upto 15% is unrelated to the extra excellence of your service--these are people who would begin at 15%. thus pool everything upto this point to protect people serving people like in your example, and allow people to keep the extra which is a true recognition of their individual service.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mongo, sounds like a fair plan but its implementation in anything but a small restaurant doesn't seem practical. It also seems like its placing a lot of faith in people's honesty, though any pooled system basically does that. All it takes is one bad apple to screw things up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

yes, and this is why pooling of all tips upto 15% would protect waiters in these circumstances.

I agree with glenn about the difficulty in implementation. There are two ways that you could mandate that servers pool all of their tips up to 15%: You can ask servers to voluntarily police themselves and trust that they will chip in an accurate amount that reflects all the tips they received up to 15%. However, in many reporting situations, I know of servers who will automatically claim any discretionary, or cash tips, down to 10%, so one can assume they will do so for the purpose of pooling as well. And there's also the nice option of pocketing your tip and telling everyone that this table stiffed you.

Or you can mandate that every server chip in 15% of their sales, assuming that most tables will tip 15%, and the server can skim the top range between 15-20%, based on your assumption that those are tips the server earned for going above and beyond. Of course, this will unduly punish people who legitimately do get stiffed, because on top of receiving zero tip, they will have to contribute 15% of that sale to the tip pool in exchange for their portion of the tip pool in return.

Incidentally, I don't really agree with the assumption that basic service receives 15%, and people generally increase the tip based on the quality of service. Based on my observation of tipping behavior, I know that some people are 15% no matter what, unless they receive appalling service and stiff the server entirely. And people who regularly tip 20% continue to do so even if there are minor dips in the quality of their service. And of course there are some people who tip 10% no matter what.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I do not see other sales people giving away the money they earned and worked their but off for to fellow workers, if you have partners who help you in your endeavors then yes share or give them what the deserve, it will help you in the end, the good relationships you developed with bar and support staff will always help you out when needed, when you give them what they deserve; other staff are not stupid, they know when you make money and when you do not; also the government is becoming less stupid as well so it is a matter of time before they catch up to idea of how much a professional waiter can make, also slinging booze can bring in a least a hundred bucks a night in many bars up here in Canada and I am sure the US is about the same???

Servers work hard for their money, it is their sale not any else’s, if they got help then, the people who assisted on that sale deserve their cut, other then that keep your Commi hands off our money ( JOKE :biggrin: )

steve

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

My experience , 20+ years, is thus.

I have never, and would be unlikely to ever, worked in a "pooled house", most of the stories I have heard are that in pooled houses 2 things happen:

1) Management/ownership usually control the pool and take inordinately high %'s for BOH and salaried staff.

2) Despite the theories about "building teamwork" the usual result is poor service as better servers leave and the incentive to bust your butt is worn down by having to share your dough with those who don't hold up their end. "Why should I go the extra mile when I'm gonna make $80 regardless"

Here in B.C. the training wage exists but 99% of servers are paid $8.00 per hour, benefits are a crapshoot - most multi-unit stores have them most individual restaurants do not. Why you wouldn't want to provide a dental plan in an industry where appearance is so important escapes me.

"Tipping out" varies wildly but in Vancouver's better dining rooms a server can count on paying out between 5 -7% of net sales to a combination of "House Pool", used for hostesses, kitchen, dishwashers and management - and usually direct tipout to expeditors/food runners, bar staff and bussers. Strangely here in Vancouver bar staff are generally exempt from "House Pool".

I personally have no problem with tipping out support staff and BOH, after all if the dishes are dirty I'm not makin' any money.

''Wine is a beverage to enjoy with your meal, with good conversation, if it's too expensive all you talk about is the wine.'' Bill Bowers - The Captain's Tavern, Miami

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After skimming through this post I'm guessing that alot of servers don't feel that they should "share their tips" with the other workers in the restaurant. In the 20+ years that I have served in this industry, I didn't know that there was even an option :laugh: Without exception, every place I have served for has a "server tip-out" that has ranged between 3%-6.5% of their net sales. Is this only in Canada?? I for one gladly share my tips with the hostess, busser, food runner, bartender and kitchen. Why shouldn't I???? Did I seat the guest?? Make their drink or retrieve their wine??? Bring bread and water refills to the table?? Run their food?? PREPAREtheir food?? I try to do as much of the above as possible (with the exception of cooking their food) but I gladly tip out my support staff. Some guests may not realize this when tipping 10%. Of that I actually only get 4%. But that is not the point. As long as I get the above support from the staff, I happily give them about 1/3 of my tips each and every shift. It's called TEAMwork for a reason.

Derek

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After skimming through this post I'm guessing that alot of servers don't feel that they should "share their tips" with the other workers in the restaurant.  In the 20+ years that I have served in this industry, I didn't know that there was even an option  :laugh:  Without exception, every place I have served for has a "server tip-out" that has ranged between 3%-6.5% of their net sales.  Is this only in Canada?? I for one gladly share my tips with the hostess, busser, food runner, bartender and kitchen.  Why shouldn't I???? Did I seat the guest?? Make their drink or retrieve their wine??? Bring bread and water refills to the table?? Run their food?? PREPAREtheir food?? I try to do as much of the above as possible (with the exception of cooking their food) but I gladly tip out my support staff. Some guests may not realize this when tipping 10%.  Of that I actually only get 4%.  But that is not the point.  As long as I get the above support from the staff, I happily give them about 1/3 of my tips each and every shift.  It's called TEAMwork for a reason.

Most servers expect to tip out to their support folks, the bus and bar, and depending on the structure, possibly a runner or hostess, but no, never the kitchen. The tip reflects service. The bill reflects the food. The chef/cooks are paid salary. Servers are not.

I think the biggest gripe though is not in tipping out, it is in pooling, sharing tips with other servers. I waited tables for years, and the only time I ever pooled was in a tiny restaurant where there were just two of us on and we worked as a team. I would not pool otherwise. People who are excellent servers provide better service, turns their tables faster, or sell more and get a larger check, and thus a larger tip. It is not remotely fair for them to have to give up a penny of the money that they have earned.

Imagine if you were a teacher with twenty years experience, and a salary 3 or 4 times that of a first year teacher. How would you feel if a new policy was adopted that all teachers regardless of experience would make the same low pay? You'd say that is not fair.

It is no different with servers.

Just my two cents. I hate to see people taken advantage of, and that is what pooling does.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...