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Another tipping question

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David Swanson

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Another tipping question

by David Swanson » Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:51 pm

Sorry if this is the wrong forum, but I'd like some input from those in the know.

I've long held the belief that if you can't tip well you can't afford to eat out. My wife and I both regard 20% as the minimum tip, barring exceptional circumstances.

To keep this hypothetical, say we are dining at 611 Mongolia. The bill comes to $200, the 18% service charge (clearly printed in the menu and online) adds $36, and with 6% tax the bill that is delivered to our table is $250.16. High, but worth every penny. This meal was outstanding. We obviously don't dine here on a weekly basis.

I hand over the old charge card and the receipt comes back with a line saying Tip:____________

Now I am confused. Is a service charge a tip or not?

If I ran up a $250.16 bill at a place without a service charge and received the kind of service one gets at 611 Mongolia I'd probably round up to a clean $300, just because. But does the service charge go to the server or the restaurant? Would giving a 2% tip on top of a 18% service charge count as a 20% tip, or a 2% tip?

A middle-aged guy with a high school education shouldn't have to scratch his head at such complexities, but here I am. Any ideas?
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Robin Garr

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Re: Another tipping question

by Robin Garr » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:31 pm

That's a little pushy, but I read the blank "tip" line under a required service charge as being an optional spot to add a little more if you feel that the required service charge was not enough. I'll add a couple of bucks on that line, usually, if the service charge was only 18%, to bring it up to 20% or a little more.

But no, I would absolutely not feel obliged to add more on that line. It's optional, and if it's confusing, the restaurant has failed.
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Re: Another tipping question

by Robin Garr » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:32 pm

Or, less, wordy: Yes, that service charge is a tip. :)
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Re: Another tipping question

by Robin Garr » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:52 pm

And one last thought! It often feels awkward, when we're dining, to talk about the tip with the server who's going to get the tip. :) But in reality, tips are part of their pay, and any server would be happy to engage you in a conversation about what the separate lines mean. Just ask!
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David Swanson

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Re: Another tipping question

by David Swanson » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:13 pm

Thanks for the input Robin. Any questions that follow aren't directed at you.

My idea of fine dining is a hole in the wall with great food. Think places like Vietnam Kitchen or Falafel House. I'd certainly notice a $1 jump in the cost of my favorite dish - looking at you K8.

The whole point of dining at places like 611 Mongolia is to forget about the credit card statement and enjoy the whole fine dining experience. An 18% increase in price across the board would not affect the experience. So what's the point of the service charge? Why not just increase prices by 18% and pay the servers a professional wage?
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Re: Another tipping question

by GaryF » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:47 pm

Unless they have changed their policy, and it was many many years ago I worked for them ever so briefly, the servers are paid a wage and do not keep tips.
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Re: Another tipping question

by Robin Garr » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:22 am

David Swanson wrote:The whole point of dining at places like 611 Mongolia is to forget about the credit card statement and enjoy the whole fine dining experience. An 18% increase in price across the board would not affect the experience. So what's the point of the service charge? Why not just increase prices by 18% and pay the servers a professional wage?

Very good question, David. The best answer I have is that customers don't like that. Look at Red Herring, in the old Hilltop Theater in Clifton. Beautiful place, decent food, great drink. They tried that very thing: Pay the staff a living wage, don't have tipping. The place sank in less than a year, and by all accounts the wage issue was a big part of why their numbers didn't work. :(
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Leah S

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Re: Another tipping question

by Leah S » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:07 pm

And since I live across the street, it's 610 Magnolia being discussed, yes?
We own 611 Magnolia, a (rental) residence.
Neither of which are in Mongolia.
:D
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Re: Another tipping question

by Leah S » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:08 pm

Just to add more confusion on a related topic, Service Charges from a caterer are not a tip I've been told. Those charges are for non-consumables: glassware, dishes, serveware, etc. Is that true in your experience?
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Re: Another tipping question

by David Swanson » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:13 pm

Thanks Leah. 611 Mongolia is just a made-up name to stand in for an upscale restaurant. Any resemblance to current or former restaurants is purely coincidental.

Your post brings up an interesting point that a service charge is not (necessarily) the same as a gratuity. I'd be interested to read further opinions.
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Re: Another tipping question

by Ellen P » Sun Nov 11, 2018 6:23 pm

We ate at one of the Omni restaurants last night. The check had a 18% service added to it. Asked the server. She received 12% and the other part shared between the busser/bartendar/SAs. Our daughter added only enough money to make it 20%. Wonder how many add a tip, not noticing? Glad my husband checks those things closely. Our daughter showed it to him because she was confused about it. Son-in-law asked her what it went toward. Didn't get food to go so would be curious what those charges might be. Good food and very nice server and service. The casual restaurant, not their expensive one. Ellen

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