Thursday, February 24, 2011
Automatic Gratuities and The Continuing Free Fall of Fine Dining
1. It would create a better clientele in most cases. You would find yourself not having to serve a bunch of kids with ipods who don't have any money to begin with from coming into your restaurant. Of course if you work in a place with a high end clientele you do not need to read any further.
2. Because of the above reason you would encounter less separate checks to deal with. When the party of 11 kids come in and they all want separate checks that is a big hassle that takes you away from serving other tables. And it usually is not worth it.
3. Servers would stick around a lot longer in the establishment. Especially servers who have kids and mortage. Needless to say that is why you see a lot of younger people working in a restaurant that doesn't add on the automatic gratuity for large parties. They can get by on the bad night.
Those are my top 3 reasons.
Now here is my number reason it will never happen.
Corporate restaurants serve to the masses. Everybody and their uncle comes to the restaurant and that is how they can bring such high numbers. It is a business decision plain and simple. In and out pay the bill and next please. It is all about volume and as long as people know they can get away with tipping less they will go there.
The chain restaurant is taking over. Fine dining is heading out. Only in select places does it still exist. Downtown near financial districts it still happens but out in the suburbs it has but disappeared. Even in the city where I work there has been a few recent closures of fine dining establishments that I thought were doing quite well not too long ago.
In the small town where I live the highest average check in the busiest restaurant is $25 per person. That is drinks and food. One chicken and rib place the waitress told me $11-$13 per person. I mean you gotta go through a lot of people to make your $100.
That is probably why I don't work in the town where I live.
I am rambling on here but for those of you who are just starting out in the business and waiting on tables , the future tends to lean toward fast in and out style of restaurant. Gratuities will not be added on because you will be seen as too expensive. So in order to compete....leave them off.
With the looming next recession about to take place people will be tightening their belts even more and the waiter will be affected. The gratuity and business will be hurting. I suggest do something else like go back to school cause this industry will just be chicken and wings 20 years from now.
It has changed a lot since I started and it doesn't appear anytime soon the gueridon will be making a comeback.
What do you think?
Radio talk show host of "The Hospitality Industry News Network" and author of "You Only Live Once" about his early years traveling around and working on ships and foreign countries Steven blogs about his thoughts on the restaurant industry as he sees it today.
Check out his web site at www.stevennicolle.com for more information.