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Endy'

Tipping the Kitchen

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Its just not fair.

The point of working in a kitchen, is always to see the next better offer coming. Line, Station, Sous, Senior Sous, Chef, Owner... that's the way you have to approach BOH.

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I want to thank you for this thread. It opened my eyes.

I went to the all night restaurant for breakfast at 4:30 this morning before work, sat at the counter and chatted with the staff as I ate. After I settled up I handed 10 % through the pass through to the cook - a pittance really. Man, if it were always that easy to make people happy, I'd be tossing bills all over the place! Clearly it was the thought that counted. I thought the waiter had left at the end of his shift but he saw and made a point of thanking me for making the cook's day.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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I waitressed for years, growing up on Cape Cod, and have worked in at least a dozen restaurants and none of them tipped out the kitchen staff. I think you probably only see that in the high end kitchens, like a per se, and I do think payment in general in restaurants is out of whack.

One thing though that hasn't been mentioned here yet is that a key difference between most cooks and servers is that cooks love what they do and are working their way up towards a real career, whereas I've never yet met a server that loves waiting tables. They love the money at the end of the shift, but it's usually very much a love/hate relationship. If timing is off or there are kitchen errors, the server takes the hit in their tips in most cases. Most servers are transient, just doing the job until something better comes along, as it's high burnout.

Being a cook in a fine restaurant is a learning experience and generally the hourly wage is way higher than a servers. That said, at the end of the night, it doesn't seem fair that a server walks with 3-4x what the cook makes.

But, that is par for the course in a sales position, and being a server is sales. Ever notice that only a few of the servers make the big money? It's not usually all of them, only the really good ones. The ones who know how to sell.

Translate that to business world, software sales for instance. The engineers and product managers average about 100k or so, they have a fixed salary and they are the ones building the products.

The sales people, they make anywhere from 300-800k depending on how good they are. They are rewarded for production.

Same with servers...the ones who make the biggest tips are also turning the most tables and having the biggest check averages, and sell the most wine and appetizers and desserts.

But, if you were to pay front of the house and back of the house equally, you'd likely have no takers for the front of the house jobs....when you consider the work itself. Cooks like to cook...they get job satisfaction from what they do. Servers generally speaking, do not. It's mostly all about the money...and generating sales.

And also, when you're not looking at high end restaurants, it's very very common for back of the house to make more on a given night than servers. When things are slow, they can go home with nothing or next to nothing after hours of work. If you work at a company that pays some towards insurance, you may get a paycheck that is 0.00 because the hourly pay is so low. My mother actually received negative checks, indicating a balance carried forward.

Just food for thought. In general I think the whole system needs an overhaul.

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Its just not fair.

I can honestly say, that I've never worked at an establishment that has tipped out the kitchen. Although, after busy shifts we all go out together and the front of the house usually treats us to drinks. After holiday anhilations, I'll get donations from the other chefs and we get shift beers while we clean.

Sometimes it may not be fair, 317indy, but since business isn't popping like it was last year, I'm glad I get paid a salary. :biggrin:

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In my current kitchen we don't get tipped out from the FOH but if there is an appreciative party out int he dining room they do sometimes send back 10 bucks a person or so for a 3-man line. I can tell you that this make everyone so happy because that paid for their gas to get to work and maybe a late night snack after the shift on the way home.

In my last kitchen position (a fine dining restaurant--high bills low covers) we got tipped out by the servers but it was an arbitrary amount and showed up on our paychecks every two weeks. When A server was pulling a thousand plus on a busy night of fifty covers (three servers on) I would usually end up with an extra 100-200 in each paycheck. This was usually more than the other cooks because I didn't enforce the whole war between the houses and didn't scream at them.

The issue with tipping that I have is being in California. There is an 8 dollar an hour minimum wage that EVERYBODY has to get paid from a busser to a server to a cook. The new busser that just got hired makes 8 bucks an hour. He also gets tipped out quite well. I am not masterful though I tend to cook well, always keep up my end no matter how hard we get slammed and make the best food they are going to get from our restaurant. I get paid only a couple dollars more than this new busser. When offered this wage I tried to negotiate but as management can find cheap labor anywhere here and there were mitigating circumstances (I love cooking, food and working the line) I took the job and pay rate. I just find it odd that a busser or server or whatever gets a guaranteed paycheck nearly as big as a kitchen employee AND pulls in intense tips. This busser to my knowledge did not go to a school for years to learn to be a busser (he's a psych major).

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I generally feel the current system of tipping is flawed. I have worked at a high end las vegas restaurant. Here is essentially the pay breakdown of this restaurant.

wait staff: 75-80k a year.

food runners: 45k a year (only job was to take food from the kitchen to the table)

Sous Chef: 45k a year

Busser: 35k

Cook: 35k

Only Executive Chef, and Pastry Chef made more than a waiter, and the pastry chef was just barely at around $85k

I definately feel a certain percentage should go to the BOH. My main argument is that the main reason most people are going to go to a restaurant is for the food. Generally speaking, people don't go to a restaurant based on the service. BUT they will decide NOT to go to a restaurant based on the service.

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In my last professional chefing position I was a Chef de Partie at the Equinox in Manchester VT. During leaf-season we frequently had tour busses arrive out of the blue and we (3 chefs) could easily have to serve 130-150 covers in an evening. I was 32 years old and my pay at the time (1994) was $9/hour. It is damn hard to work this hard and hear an unskilled 18 year old waiter brag about making $250 an night in tips. I really think that we deserved part of the tips.

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I want to thank you for this thread.  It opened my eyes.

I went to the all night restaurant for breakfast at 4:30 this morning before work, sat at the counter and chatted with the staff as I ate.  After I settled up I handed 10 % through the pass through to the cook - a pittance really.  Man, if it were always that easy to make people happy, I'd be tossing bills all over the place!  Clearly it was the thought that counted.  I thought the waiter had left at the end of his shift but he saw and made a point of thanking me for making the cook's day.

Aside from the money, even if you just stuck your head in the window and thanked us we would be on cloud nine.

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most cooks that i have cooked with are not in it for the money. they are there to learn a craft--the craft of cooking. it's not surprising that the bigger the name of the chef the less money the cooks get paid. think of it like going to school. i am going to learn so much from such and such and so i can justify the 28 grand i am going to make this year ...that's the way i saw it. that being said, i have worked at 2 restaurants where cooks got tips. one in new york and one in napa valley. both places paid me the best i have ever been paid as a cook and i learned a ton but they were both extremely special situations. if you want to make money, get out of the kitchen and become a server. if you want to become a better cook, go work for the genius that makes you come in 2 hours before your shift (unpaid) and teaches you how to really cook. there was a great article in the san francisco chronicle about why cooks get paid what they do and how much the prices on menus would go up if cooks were paid better. if you want to make the kitchen's day, bring in a a six pack or two of good beer and send it back to the kitchen. you'll be the hero of the night.

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One thing though that hasn't been mentioned here yet is that a key difference between most cooks and servers is that cooks love what they do and are working their way up towards a real career, whereas I've never yet met a server that loves waiting tables. 

What is it about liking your work that means you don't deserve decent compensation? I know that isn't what you believe but it's effectively what people think about a lot of jobs - school teachers, scientists, ministers, etc.

I'm not in the industry, I go to restaurants for good food. Good service is a bonus. If I get good food and lousy service, I'll probably come back. If I get lousy food and good service, I probably won't. If I get lousy food and lousy service I won't be able to complain about the lousy food and have it made right and I surely won't come back.

The consumers would probably be better off if we were charged a base amount for serving the food and were expected to tip the kitchen.

It's not that I don't appreciate good service but I suspect that the tipping system doesn't improve the quality. If I get poor service, my tip is likely different from someone else who got the same. And I suspect that if I tip low it is mostly it is written off as my being a lousy tipper in general. I could talk to management but frankly, if I am disappointed with my server, I more than likely just want to get out of there and don't feel it is my obligation to bitch to management.

Unfortunately, under the current system it is pretty difficult to justify tipping the kitchen fairly. I'm already paying about 15-20% more for the meal than its cost (for average service). I really think it is only reasonable for the tips to be split with the kitchen if we are to have a tipping culture. And this stuff about management increasing their take-home by offsetting tips with reductions to hourly wage is total BS.


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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One thing though that hasn't been mentioned here yet is that a key difference between most cooks and servers is that cooks love what they do and are working their way up towards a real career, whereas I've never yet met a server that loves waiting tables. 

What is it about liking your work that means you don't deserve decent compensation? I know that isn't what you believe but it's effectively what people think about a lot of jobs - school teachers, scientists, ministers, etc.

As I've said earlier, I do believe the current way is definitely flawed. I think though that part of the reason it is this way is simply because of supply and demand. If you paid the servers the same as the cooks, you'd likely have an abundance of cooks and no servers.

Whereas the cooks will accept their pay because it's a stepping stone to a career, almost like an internship in a sense, where they are learning and being paid.

Servers, not so much. Most servers are just doing the job on way to a different career. Very few servers stay as professional staff their entire careers. Most are just in it for the money. If you take the money away by redistributing to the kitchen in any kind of significan way, they will either seek out other server jobs that don't....or do something else.

Which is why I think nothing changes...supply and demand sets the prices ultimately.

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