Re: Should A Service Charge Be Included at Restaurants So That Servers Can Have Benefits?


This issue keeps coming back and should stay around until it gets resolved which probably is never. Health insurance can cost quite a lot and there are ways around it. A restaurant association can purchase group health insurance for all its restaurants and their employees and that would cost a lot less than one restaurant. Also a restaurant can offer limited health insurance that is actually very good. A term life costs nothing, good dental insurance can cost nothing and instead of the regular health if only the hospital package is bought, that will cost nothing also. Health insurance packages are made of several components and what costs a lot is the part that the patient visits doctors and pays a few dollars for visit and medicine and more. If that portion is taken out, a health insurance can be bought with only coverage that starts with a high deductible of maybe $3000 or more a year. If the insured goes to doctors and so on, he/she has to pay off $3000 before he can charge the insurance company. The insurance however covers for millions in case of a problem and only $3000 (or a similar amount) is what the insured has to worry about. This package costs very little monthly and dental can be inexpensive. Health insurance can be not very costly to begin with. Service charge system probably will have much trouble because American servers are not trained as Europeans are. I stopped telling people that just because a person has a job title does not mean that person is the job. A waiter in America is most likely someone who just needed a job and this is the best could get. That is true too often in the best establishments. A flat charge for service requires a flat and consistent level of service. And even if the place is good, the quality of service is very subjective. American guests are trained to think like Nobel Prize judges, take things very personally and give little benefit of a doubt. This may not be the right culture for a service charge as Europe. (Personally, I know how to do it so it works and will use flat service charge in my restaurants. I abhore tip system. It is the worst system for the sake of quality and running a business but is tradition and has to be managed somehow. Service charge works if you know your business inside out and know how to make it work so it clicks for you.)


In a New York Times op-ed piece Phoebe Damrosch, the author of Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter, and also a former server at Per Se, poses the following question: “How can restaurants attract more professional, committed and inspired workers and how can they persuade current waiters to be proud of their work?”

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