First time for everything

OK it is a very common policy for sit down restaurants to have gratuity policies for large parties. In fact upon reflection I cant think of a single exception. Somewhere some independent operator will have a no grat policy in America but I have yet to dine there I guess.

Tonight we had a group of 7 come in. We have a fairly easy pushover of hostess. She tends to say to tables as she gets to their assigned table is this table alright in words and especially body language. We have live music so this opens the door to MASSIVE amounts of table hopping. This causes all kinds of problems-the main one is a server gets overloaded with too many tables all at once. This force said weeded (overwhelmed ie I am in the weeds and cant see my way out-you ask or bark orders for coworker assistance or you go down in a bloody mess) to begin waiting all their tables as one table which forces the server to turn in multiple tables all at once which tends to gum up the smooth flow of production in the kitchen especially if the orders are chock full of special requests. Then all those tables finish at once and can leave in mass leaving you open to multiple table seatings at once AGAIN all night. The corollary problem is due to the that another server can end up going FOREVER with out getting sat AT ALL. Then the restaurant fills up and that server may get an entire section sat in 5 minutes. Trust me its not fun on the server and the guest experience suffers as well.

But I digress…Our nice  young hostess which I dearly like but really wish she would develp a more  stiff backbone seats this party of 7 at 2 separate 4 tops. This is odd as they are right beside each other and normally would be 2 tables put together as a single large table. My manager asks why the  odd table arrangement. She replies that they asked for 2 tables because they didnt want to pay a gratuity. I happened to be standing next to the manager and began chuckling. My manager hails from  Yankee country and naturally is very firm with what ever the rules are. He also hasnt forgotten what its like to be a server and defends us as much as he can from guest abuses.

Next thing I notice they have gotten up and left. They spend the next 10 minutes milling outside our front door figuring out  what they would do next. If they didnt want to tip a server a variety  of fast food was just down the street–>McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Subway within walking distance. I kinda wish I had the opportunity to interact with them to get a better read from them. We had to assume they were just being cheap in the end. A halfhearted complaint of prior poor service was mentioned.  If it was so bad last time then why was this 1st we had heard of the problem and why were they back? Why didnt they discuss the issue up front with the manager rather than dictating their dining terms to our hostess?

In all my years of serving tables usually wait to refuse to pay a gratuity until after the meal is over as they can get away with it. Legally all you can do is ban them from return visits and try to have your staff remember who they are.

And to the folks who will no doubt respond whining tips are not guaranteed. I have to agree with you because in America they are all too many thieves out there. Thieves? you think…Hell yeah when the server loses the opportunity to make money while waiting on your skin flint ass they lost out on taking care of another more generous guests. That server will also pay out 3-5 % on average of the total bill (my place errornously calculates the tip share on the total including tax to boot) to support staff so when you stiff COST the server in two ways for that tip out one and second because the fed/state govt requires you to pay taxes on the expected income. Most places force you declare 8-10% of sales as income, tho some place require 12% declared income. These percentages are mainly moot because most POS systems have intergrated ordering, credit card processing, and timekeeping with declared tips included. Thus any tips on credit or bank cards are autodeclared. I would estimate cash sales to be annually 10-15% of my sales.

And for the whiners who still think stiffing is a cool thing to do as I MUST  be some whining self entitled asshat myself–think again I have been doing this a long time and have become  pretty good at it. As a result I tend to outsell my coworkers most of the time and tend to be one of the servers with the highest take home percentages which is the true measure of a servers quality of service.

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6 Responses to “First time for everything”

  1. Mike Harmon Says:

    Hi there,

    I looked over your blog and it looks really good. Do you ever do link exchanges on your blog roll? If you do, I’d like to exchange links with you.

    Let me know if you’re interested.

    Thanks..

  2. Ribeye of your Dreams Says:

    I finally commented on your site, Ninja, after all the ones you’ve left on mine! I’ve also linked to you =).

    As for the topic at hand, the gratuity refusal is by far not a new thing where I work. We not only get people who refuse to pay a gratuity on their party of 8, citing reasons beyond the imagination, but we get repeat offenders. We have one party of like 10 people that come in every other week, claim they don’t know each other but sit at tables right next to each other, play musical booths, and then bitch to the managers when we put a gratuity on them.
    It’s pure Hell.

    Congrats on the blog, Ninja, and good luck with it. I hope the link I put up gets you much traffic!

    Ribeye

  3. foodserviceninja Says:

    Thanks for the linkage and yeah I could use the hits-my only other known link is another server blogger who hasnt posted since July so any traffic from there probably dried up already.

    The main thing about the group I found funny was that they when asking for separate table despite coming in all as a single group– entered place in immediate family groups but table segregation was older and younger tables of 3 and 4-WAS that they plainly refused to pay a gratuity UPFRONT.

    Most nongrat’ers will refuse when they ask for the check or after they get a check with a grat on it with often made up or extremely exagerated service/food issues. These douchebags are the same want sumthin’ for nuthin’ losers who make it sound like you attempted to poison them with a plate of ffod they SOMEHOW manager to eat every last bite of BEFORE making negative comment one about DESPITE their server asking if everything was alright or did they need anything else several times as they managed to choke down said horrid food.

    Further I was amazing my manager stood up to them by essentially refusing them server if they planned to not follow our policies. And rem folks any business can refuse you service. The manager didnt exactly refuse them service just was very firm in that they could sit at the two tables BUT they WOULD be grat’ed. PERIOD.

  4. Bev Rage Says:

    LOL! Great post Ninja! I’ve had a table pull the “sitting seperately to avoid the gratuity” trick. I was forced by kiss ass management to serve them without the grat. Well, if they insisted they were seperate tables, then seperate tables they would be! I made sure that their drinks, appetizers and entrees were ordered seperately…one table was on desserts while the other were still eating their entrees. I took drink orders from the first table, then walked away and filled them before approaching the second table. It made more work for me, but it was a slow night, and I enjoyed fucking with them. They ended up leaving almost 15% anyway…go figure!

  5. foodserviceninja Says:

    I love it when they blow it and try to use the same credit card to pay for both checks so they delay paying one table’s check. I had it happen once so I pull my manager over and show him how table1 had a payment on the same credit card number as the one they were using to pay for table 2. He tacked on gratuity for both tables to tab for table 2. I enjoyed laughing at them to their face when they protested the charges. At the time we had the local area patrolman in for our free coffee and the chef would make em some random snack so I offered to let them discuss it with the cop on the legality. They declined. Signed. Never returned.

  6. Void Says:

    “often made up or extremely exagerated service/food issues. These douchebags are the same want sumthin’ for nuthin’ losers who make it sound like you attempted to poison them with a plate of ffod they SOMEHOW manager to eat every last bite of BEFORE making negative comment one about DESPITE their server asking if everything was alright or did they need anything else several times as they managed to choke down said horrid food.”

    At least 50% of my customers pulled that. My managers treated me like I had done something wrong even though I hadn’t cooked the shit. Only once did somebody question a customer why they ate the WHOLE THING when their lobster tasted funny. Their meal still got comped. And the managers couldn’t figure out why the company couldn’t turn a profit…

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