Should Tipping Be Mandatory?
Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where each week Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question or topic New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week, the Internet food community nearly popped a gastronomical gasket regarding a mysteriously sourced story that servers in San Francisco want to make a 25 percent tip mandatory. The report was unsubstantiated (shocking), but the question remains as to what our Valley food community has to say on whether a tip should be automatic. Here are a few of their answers:
NO: At FnB, we don't ever add automatic gratuity. For larger parties, I normally drop off a bill and tell the guest: "I will leave a tip up your discretion." Who am I to assume my service was worth 20 percent? Almost always guests over tip past the 20 percent mark, and if sometimes you get under-tipped (less than 15 percent) well, c'est la vie. You have to look at tips based on your yearly income and not sweat the one less-than-stellar-tip. If you're a good server, you will make good money.
Tipping should be mandatory only for special events where the gratuity has been discussed as part of the contract. There is also a cultural issue here -- sometimes diners from other parts of the world have different views about tipping. This is just one of the reasons why the tip is added to most parties larger than six.
YES: You don't have to tip if you don't dine out. If you do go to a restaurant where service is involved, then you have "agreed" to tip according to the level of service you receive. If you don't like to tip, then eat at home and clear your own plates.
NO: I believe most wait and bar staff consider it mandatory, but I think that represents a very arrogant position. I owe you for the food, and I tip if your service enhances the dining experience.
NO: Proper training of wait staff should be mandatory. At Tonto & Cartwright's, our staff reaps the rewards of proper gratuities because we test them weekly on everything. Their training never ends, and their knowledge and skill is apparent to our customers.
NO: Tipping shouldn't be mandatory, but is essentially an unwritten rule. Most corporate restaurants have tip-out percentages based on sales (to busser, bartender, etc.) not tips, which basically means a server could actually lose money on serving a table if [the diners] do not tip. Ninety percent of general public has no clue of this.
YES: Tipping should be mandatory unless the staff is rude. [If it is rude], then no way. I can forgive any mistake except poor behavior.