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Re: “Hey, Big Spender

The leading cause for restaurant failure rates is because it can be a fairly low cost business to start but most people have the desire to own a restaurant and know very little about the actual operations.

If someone opens a good concept and has a strong management team the possibilities are endless when you consider expansions. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the more successful independent and corporate restaurants. 10 -15 thousand dollars on a strong 5 hour dinner shift isn't to shabby. There are risks involved but its a great career and business opportunity for those that have the experience.

Thanks for all the discussion everyone and especially Jeff. We pay our staff well and consider the best interest for them as well, even the consideration of paying them a higher hourly wage like most bartenders. We try to keep our cost in line so that we can keep our prices competitive for the area. Servers work for tips, everyone should know that. We want servers to rely on tips so we can assure our guests are taken care of. If the service they provide to the guest is inadequate then usually so is their pay out at the end of the shift. But when they show a high tip percentage we can be certain that the guests were happy with the level of service provided.


Posted by restaurantguru on 04/29/2010 at 10:46 AM

Re: “Hey, Big Spender

It's a popular subject because everyone goes out to eat at some point and the industry employs a substantial amout of people. Count on your hands how many people you know in the restaurant business and then other industries not including the one you work in. Should be easy to see the difference.

Posted by restaurantguru on 04/28/2010 at 4:59 PM

Re: “Hey, Big Spender

Public services such as government workers as described above isn't what I'm talking about and we all pay for their services as well. What is meant by public service is also described in the dictionary as

a service rendered in the public interest

Restaurants provide servers, and you can request the server of your choice at most places, because it is in the best interest of the guests and the restaurant. The plumber makes his money from the service provided at a falt rate per hour which is paid as a percentage of the labor charge in most cases or at an hourly wage. That example was used because no matter what other service you are in need of, you pay the full percentage or price to have that service no matter the quality.

You can add numbers all day and question the industry standards. The point of the matter is that even though some of you feel that perhaps you should be able to tip less or the restaurant should pay more. I can understand the restaurant paying more as they do on the west coast and some places on teh east coast. Even though servers have some bad days and some guests may not want to tip as they should, the average server makes between $12 and $15/hr. Not to bad for some people. In more popular restaurants, servers and bartenders make a considerable amount. Which is a good reason I have probably 10-20 server applications submitted a week on average, and have servers which have been with the restaurant since the opening. Complaints about what they make hourly almost never happen unless its a really slow night and cuts need to be made so a few servers can go home.

All restaurants could try to increase employee payroll by increasing server pay. Menu prices would go up. They would also have to increase the pay rate of the other employess whom the servers tip out such as the bussers, dishwashers, expos, and in some cases the cooks. They would have to do this because people would have less disposable income due to the menu prices and because tips would decrease a great deal. With the decrease in tips, I would say you could probably count on a service level that you would get from a fast food environment becuase of the server potential restaurant managers would have to choose from. $7.50 /hr works well on the coasts because the cost of living is quite a bit more.

Restaurants already experienced some tight moments when the minimum increased for their staff. Menu prices changed and many restaurants closed locations. Mcallister's deli for example was one of the major chains that had to close a few doors, and they do not have any servers there.

Another thing Jeff, most of the time at restaurants the person bringing your food isn't a food runner. Only in some cases can restaurants afford that expense. It is usually a different server bringing your food, after the expo receives it from the kitchen or when it comes up in the window. While your server is waiting on other guests the restaurant doesn't want you to suffer a cold meal. Servers do alot to help each other out in the business. Great teamwork equals a higher tip percentage in most cases for everyone. I'm fortunate at my restaurant because we are able to have expos and foodrunners but in many cases, restaurants aren't so lucky.


Posted by restaurantguru on 04/28/2010 at 4:55 PM

Re: “Hey, Big Spender

My apologies for not breaking things down into a more detailed prospective for those of you that are unable to fit pieces together. I was under the impression that maybe those posting on this subject would have an understanding of how restaurants or businesses in general work.

So Jeff, in response to you laughing about the matter of my comment and in a sense about how a large majority of Americans make ends meet here is a simpleton break down.

Public service is a service provided to the public for a brief explanation. Waiting on tables or valeting cars, dealing cards, plumbing, changing your oil are all examples of public services. A plumber may charge you for materials and labor, well guess what....that $125 / hr for labor to unclog your drain is, in an indirect way, a tip to the contractor. Could you unclog the drain yourself? yes probably, but you pay for the convenience and the services provided. Materials would cost you either way you look at it.

On to the next thing. In case you have been overseas for the past 5 years, minimum wage has increased to $7.50/hr not $5.13/hr. And today we have those restaurants called fast casual, you've probably visited one or two I'm sure. These restaurants operate without servers, strange right? Not really, it's an easy concept. But see the problem there is that it doesn't allow the guest to really enjoy their meal as an experience. Its just somewhere for a quick bite to eat and the best part is....there isn't a server to tip. Just the counter service you receive for the person taking your order, bringing your food to the table, and cleaning up your mess after your finished. Some restaurants call people that deliver your food to the table food runners. Food runners usually make minimum wage and get a dollar or two as a tip sometimes.

Do yourself and others a favor. Next time you want to post something, at least educate yourself a little on the subject or at least have something intelligent to say. At least in the restaurant business you're not obligated to tip....not so lucky with a get a bill and there is no negotiations...even if they drag mud all over your floor.


Posted by restaurantguru on 04/28/2010 at 12:39 PM

Re: “Hey, Big Spender

When discussing tip averages, 20% not only shows that you were pleased with the quality of service you experienced but also shows that you have common sense and a bit of class. In our region of America, servers make the industry standard which is $2.75 / hr. What they average per hour depends on the servers themselves and the establishment however.

I've had a few careers in my life, both blue and white collar jobs. I settled into the restaurant business because there are far more great people in this business than there are those people who lack social skills and business ethics. Restaurants are secondary jobs for some and primary jobs for others, but overall this business is one of the largest industries in the world. I manage a restaurant currently and I can attest that I absolutely adore my staff. Each member of my team has a great and unique personality. They are great friends, co-workers, and most of all...people. Musicians, college students, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, all make up the staff of my restaurant. They swallow their pride from time to time just to make a small 10% on some of their guests, in some restaurants the servers tip out a percentage to the other staff members out of the small 10% which leaves them with maybe 5%. Some members of my staff have college degrees and have had other professions like myself but we enjoy the business because of the people who understand that you pay for a service provided. It is their decision to work for such a small amount of money paid to them by the restaurant and pay taxes on a percentage of sales no matter what percentage they make. Most of the time I am certain they do not regret their decision to provide a great experience to all the people they have the opportunity to meet.

On another side of the subject, when a patron visits the restaurant they are paying for the price of the goods that are on the menu. Most of the time the secondary charge during a restaurant visit are left to the guests discretion. Theses charges are for the services provided and are considered tips. Servers are there for the guest's benefit and not entirely the restaurants. We could operate our restaurants without servers. Guests could get their own beverages and pick up their own food or drinks. Without bartenders, who usually do make regular minimum wage or close to it because of the training required for that profession, getting a cocktail would be out of the question. There are occasions where restaurants add gratuity to the check. This once again is industry standard. Gratuity is generally placed on a check because of the size of the party, and please note that the SUGGESTED gratuity which is on the check is suggested at the minimum in most cases. If a group of twelve people visit a restaurant, more than likely an 18%-20% gratuity will be added to the bill for multiple reasons. The server's section has been taken up for probably 1.5 - 2 hours in most cases, to make the tip assumption easier for the guest, because there was a coupon or discount used and the gratuity was stated, service for larger groups is significantly more intense than service for 2 - 4 guests. Some restaurants charge a gratuity after a certain time in the evening. This prevents less socially skilled guests from stiffing their servers who are waiting on them in the later hours of the evening. We would all usually rather be out having a drink ourselves or at home with our families. But restaurant personnel stay at work till midnight or sometimes 3:00 a.m. to provide a service to guests who get the craving for a late night meal.

Restaurants could remove servers or pay them more. Either way, restaurant patrons would suffer the consequences. With an increase on server wages, prices for the service would be included in the bill without giving the guest the option on tipping for the quality of service provided. The restaurant business is not very profitable as it is, at least not when you consider other businesses. A 13% - 25% profit margin is significantly smaller than most other industries. The benefit to the restaurant business is the constant change and wonderful work environment provided by our staff members and our guest.

If you want to be a skeptic and think that the system is just set up so that restaurants can get by with paying our employees the least amount we can, that is entirely your opinion. This information is for your knowledge if you decide to visit a restaurant and you are thinking about what to tip or why. Servers and Bartenders are there to provide a service to the public, not so much for the restaurant. We as restaurateurs only try to choose and train the best people to serve our guests. If you want a good quick meal and the option to tip a small amount and not be considered a schmuck, maybe try fast casual dining where its acceptable for a smaller tip because its pretty much a self service establishment.

As for counter service, use your best judgment. Most counter service associates are making minimum wage and anything extra is just a way of showing some appreciation to another person as a kind gesture of thank you. To-go orders are a bit different though. To-go personnel usually are servers or bartenders who are taking time out to handle your order. 10-15% on to-go orders is a great way to show your appreciation. Its not the drive through window at Mcdonalds and the staff does take the time to make sure the order is correct and that the guest has all the necessary utensils to enjoy their meal. Delivery drivers are paid over minimum wage mostly and are compensated for the use of their vehicle in most cases but whats 20% on a $30 pizza order....$6...saves you the drive and hassle of leaving home.

I hope this helps with the article. Thanks to all of you out there that understand the business and help support the restaurants and servers today and in the past economic crisis. To those of you that think a server or bartender is there just to sell you the most expensive thing on the menu, I am disheartened at the thought of you not being able to enjoy the great experiences that are out there in the world of restaurants.

Eat well, tip your servers and bartenders, and enjoy the experience. Always remember karma.


Posted by restaurantguru on 04/27/2010 at 8:39 PM


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