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Old 12-09-2012, 08:27 PM   #81
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$1300 so far in tips, not counting the 2x for the favorite waiter. If we tipped like that I'd have to go back to work.
No. Don't you just up your WR from 3%/yr to 3.013%/yr to have that extra for tips?
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:13 AM   #82
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I have DW set the tip level. She managed restaurants in an earlier part our life and can dissect the good and bad part of service with a precision far beyond my ken.Slammed busy but still trying to taking care of customers in a good way, ++ tip. Standing around, not cleaning or serving or making themselves productive, --tip.

Epic, worst tip ever? two Midols. (it wasn't given to a woman).

As for tip sharing, it takes good team effort to run a great restaurant. If you want to stand out in memory to the staff as a great and savvy tipper that will be greatly taken care of, send a special tip to the cook on a great meal, with special thanks, on top of the waitress tip. The money will be appreciated, but the kudos from the special recognition will ensure redoubled efforts in the future, and good management will notice. I go to cheap restaurants, YMMV.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:42 AM   #83
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Let's do a little math.
  • Let's say a customer at a Darden restaurant spends $15 between drinks, apps, entree and/or dessert plus taxes. Lots of restaurants average 2-3 times that ($30-45 per person).
  • Let's say the average table is a 4-top, so $60 per table. Table turns in an hour on average (Darden).
  • Server has 5 tables (could be more, even 10), that's $300/table-hr.
  • Let's say 15% tip, even though 18-20% if probably the norm these days. That's $45/hr in tips plus a small minimum hourly wage, $90/hr if they have 10 tables. And 2-3 times that in a high end restaurant.
  • Even if they only have 6 hours with tips and spend 2 hrs on setup and cleanup (with no tips). Works out to $34/hr for 5 tables or $68/hr for 10 tables. And again 2-3 times that in a high end restaurant.
  • Sounds like a pretty nice gig for a high school grad to me, and it was 40 years ago too.
Tips were far and away the biggest incentive for servers. Like I said earlier, baking tips into food prices would be a huge mistake IMO. Poorer service and I'd bet servers would make considerably less. You think Darden will up servers pay to $34-68/hr?
I think your estimates are high. When I was a waiter at Olive Garden, most waiters earned around $10 per hour. We each had 4 tables max and many people don't tip well at all. For some folks, $1 per person is the most tip they will ever give, regardless of the price of the meal. Your $34/hr is a good number in theory, but not in practice.

As a related observation, people who dress like they have money are normally bad tippers. The after-church crowd are horrible tippers (I attend church, so this is not some anti-religion thing). People with kids don't tip enough to compensate for the extra work involved (kids = extra cleanup and special menu items). A table of only women is a nightmare (lots of special requests, separate checks, and bad tipping). A table of men is the opposite because they want to show off. Men actually fight each other to get the check.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:39 AM   #84
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No. Don't you just up your WR from 3%/yr to 3.013%/yr to have that extra for tips?
Just 'cause it works that way for you doesn't mean it will be the same for the rest of us
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:53 AM   #85
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As my wife and I were leaving after dinner we saw a waiter come out in the parking lot to confront one of his customers. He was very aggressive and the customer sheepishly tried to justify his tip. We didn't see the outcome of this discussion but the waiter and restaurant certainly must have suffered from his action. We never went back there even though we had no problem. The customer had to be super embarrassed if he was with a date. Kind of disgust feeling like when you see a fist fight.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:38 AM   #86
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I think your estimates are high. When I was a waiter at Olive Garden, most waiters earned around $10 per hour. We each had 4 tables max and many people don't tip well at all. For some folks, $1 per person is the most tip they will ever give, regardless of the price of the meal. Your $34/hr is a good number in theory, but not in practice.

As a related observation, people who dress like they have money are normally bad tippers. The after-church crowd are horrible tippers (I attend church, so this is not some anti-religion thing). People with kids don't tip enough to compensate for the extra work involved (kids = extra cleanup and special menu items). A table of only women is a nightmare (lots of special requests, separate checks, and bad tipping). A table of men is the opposite because they want to show off. Men actually fight each other to get the check.
Could be, but it was just an illustration. You may recall in my original post I said "in middle to upper end restaurants." While I am sure there are servers in diners who clear $10/hr, maybe less, I am also sure that my example is not completely out of line. We eat out in mostly middle, but also low and high end, restaurants often. I know many professional servers (nothing against those who wait tables as a gap job) who do very, very well. There are plenty of restaurants where $15/person and 15% tips on average are common if not low. Again, I was shocked at how much I made when I was a server in a high end restaurant years ago.

I suspect the spectrum of incomes for servers from low to high is probably wider than many other professions. From close to minimum wage to 6-figures for world-class restaurant servers. Tip outs for the former are probably significant, but not so for the upper end of the spectrum.

Not sure where a Darden restaurant falls, IIRC the OP's post, I was guessing middle range. But looking at their website I see it's a very broad "portfolio" and not what I was assuming. Red Lobster and Olive Garden I'd consider just low end, above a 'diner.' Longhorn Steakhouse closer to middle. Capital Grille is high end (I had no idea that was Darden). I am not familiar with Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V's or Yard House.
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Old 12-10-2012, 08:52 AM   #87
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Could be, but it was just an illustration. You may recall in my original post I said "in middle to upper end restaurants." While I am sure there are servers in diners who clear $10/hr, maybe less, I am also sure that my example is not completely out of line. We eat out in mostly middle, but also low and high end, restaurants often. I know many professional servers (nothing against those who wait tables as a gap job) who do very, very well. Again, I was shocked at how much I made when I was a server in a high end restaurant years ago. I suspect the spectrum of incomes for servers from low to high is probably wider than many other professions.
I completely agree that there are waiters out there in high end places that make $40 per hour. I'm thinking the waiters at Morton's or at places with Michelin stars (I even remember reading that waiters in Memphis BBQ joints make a VERY nice living even though it's all paper plates and paper towels). I also agree that Olive Garden waiters can pull down $40/hr on a good Saturday night. However, they also have to work the Tuesday night shift when the whole restaurant might get 20 tables split up among 12 waiters.

When I was a waiter I always felt like I was making a lot of money, because I would come home with a big stack of cash every night. Then I would get my $60 paycheck for 2 weeks of work and it would all balance out.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:06 AM   #88
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I completely agree that there are waiters out there in high end places that make $40 per hour. I'm thinking the waiters at Morton's or at places with Michelin stars (I even remember reading that waiters in Memphis BBQ joints make a VERY nice living even though it's all paper plates and paper towels). I also agree that Olive Garden waiters can pull down $40/hr on a good Saturday night. However, they also have to work the Tuesday night shift when the whole restaurant might get 20 tables split up among 12 waiters.

When I was a waiter I always felt like I was making a lot of money, because I would come home with a big stack of cash every night. Then I would get my $60 paycheck for 2 weeks of work and it would all balance out.
We may be in heated agreement. There are indeed slow nights mid week, and coveted nights like Fri-Sat at most restaurants. I used to work lunches, short but profitable/hr and dinners as much as possible. And there are lots of restaurants between Olive Garden and Morton's (like Charles Vergos' Rendezvous in Memphis?). Again, I know there are lots of servers who probably net $10/hr or less, but a professional server can do much better.
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Old 12-10-2012, 09:59 AM   #89
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We may be in heated agreement. There are indeed slow nights mid week, and coveted nights like Fri-Sat at most restaurants. I used to work lunches, short but profitable/hr and dinners as much as possible. And there are lots of restaurants between Olive Garden and Morton's (like Charles Vergos' Rendezvous in Memphis?). Again, I know there are lots of servers who probably net $10/hr or less, but a professional server can do much better.

While anecdotal examples of job vs duties vs pay are always interesting to hear, wouldn't the real answer to how attractive server positions are lie in which jobs are hard to fill and which are snapped up?

Here in the western Chicago suburbs, we see help wanted signs everywhere at fast food joints and low tier franchise restaurants. We never see help wanted signs at the high tier restaurants.

I understand that a high tier restaurant is less likely to slap a help wanted poster in the window than, say, the local Denny's or IHop. Still, once inside a high tier establishment, there always seems to be plenty of help which isn't the case with the low tier joints. It's pretty obvious that the high tier restaurants must have command of the job market because the servers earn more, likely much more.

If qualified folks are filling the high tier jobs, even competing for them, the compensation must be good in relationship to other opportunities. If the local Denny's, IHop or Applebee's is understaffed or filled with part time, not very skilled or interested in the job, employees, compensation must not compare favorably to other opportunities.

And as a side note....... I continue to be flabbergasted at how tough it is to find employees for low paying positions around here despite the unemployment level being advertised as high. Discount stores, low tier restaurants, manufacturing concerns (especially unskilled, night shift) all seem to be crying for help and can't find it.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:47 AM   #90
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A couple of years ago I volunteered as a tax aid and prepared many tax returns for folks whose only income was from waiting tables. Let me tell you that although unreported tips are tax evasion, then the folks I saw would have to get a lot of cash tips to earn enough to get to a level where they paid any tax.

From my limited experience I don't see that the loss in taxes from unreported tips to restaurant staff is going be significant in any meaningful way.

However, I do think that young folks hiding tips from the taxman is unnecessary and builds bad habits. (I also believe tax evasion is a bad thing at any level)

Maybe someone said something about this, but I am way behind....

It is not the income tax that is being evaded, but SS and Medicare.... that is on all income to the limit...

And I bet it is significant when you look at the whole US restaurant workforce....
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:32 AM   #91
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I completely agree that there are waiters out there in high end places that make $40 per hour. I'm thinking the waiters at Morton's or at places with Michelin stars (I even remember reading that waiters in Memphis BBQ joints make a VERY nice living even though it's all paper plates and paper towels). I also agree that Olive Garden waiters can pull down $40/hr on a good Saturday night. However, they also have to work the Tuesday night shift when the whole restaurant might get 20 tables split up among 12 waiters.

When I was a waiter I always felt like I was making a lot of money, because I would come home with a big stack of cash every night. Then I would get my $60 paycheck for 2 weeks of work and it would all balance out.

Your Olive Garden is not like ours.... ours seem to be full all the time... We do not go Fri or Sat because of the wait... but we do have to wait even on a Tues or Thur...
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:16 PM   #92
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Interesting that there were so many comments that service is better here than in Europe where tipping is not common. I've found the opposite - at least in Italy. A good friend dated a waiter at a well regarded restaurant in Tuscany. This was his career. He made a very good wage. Because it had a lot of michelin stars... it got tourists - despite being at the end of a dead end dirt road... and yes - the Americans often tipped. He didn't turn them down. LOL.
La Cantinetta di Rignana Ristorante in Chianti, Chianti restaurant between Panzano and Mercatale Val di Pesa
In Sicily, we found the service very good. We'd tip 1 Euro (on the advise of relatives). But most restaurants had a "table" charge of 1-3 Euros... My understanding is that covered the setup/busing, etc...

Here in San Diego there's a small, but growing movement away from tipping at some of the more progressive restaurants. They want to build team work among the staff. So they apply the gratuity to the bill automatically (like most restaurants do for groups). This way servers aren't competing with each other - but working together.
Here's a link about it from one of my favorite restaurants.
About Our “No Tipping” Policy
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:28 PM   #93
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Just 'cause it works that way for you doesn't mean it will be the same for the rest of us
Wouldn't that be nice?

As it is, I have never had my house cleaned. Back when I had a lawn, I always mowed it myself. And I am still cleaning the pool myself.

Just taking a break from painting to have lunch, and am ready to go back in the bedroom to start laying down the planks.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:40 PM   #94
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...and am ready to go back in the bedroom to start laying down the planks.
Slightly OT, but euphemisms are still be created even today, even right here in this very thread.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:53 PM   #95
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As it is, I have never had my house cleaned.
Dude, it's time to clean the house.

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Just taking a break from painting to have lunch, and am ready to go back in the bedroom to start laying down the planks.
TMI.

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Old 12-10-2012, 04:28 PM   #96
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Nice twofer MichaelB...
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:40 AM   #97
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Just now get back to this thread. Gee, the problem with posting here is that one never knows what replies might be elicited. Make a post, and you just have to keep coming back to check.

Pardon me, but I need to get off soon to go finish my planks. Then, I have a lot of cleaning to do.
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