I Am Paying My Server More than the Server’s So-Called Employer


2015-01-22 – There’s been a lot of talk lately about the practice of tipping in restaurants. Apparently, the national minimum wage for tipped employees is still $2.13. If you thought the minimum wage for other jobs was low at $7.25, what are you going to think of $2.13. And so you tip your server well.

You know you do it, and the rate has been going up. When I first became aware of tipping (probably in the sixties), you tipped 10%. Then it was 15%. Now it’s 20%. And this is on top of the fact that a restaurant check has gone up as well. The restaurant’s share of a server’s income hasn’t changed, but our share has gone up . . . gastronomically!

Some folks think that tipping ought to be abolished and that restaurants ought to pay their staff a living wage. I could go along with that. Restaurants use the current system to be deceptive about how much it costs to dine out. Last night, I went out to dinner with my wife. It wasn’t an expensive night, but the restaurant’s advertised price for the meal was only about 75 percent of the real cost. The rest was tax and tip. In other words, the restaurant was advertising a $30 meal but charging me $40.

So I would have no problem changing that system. But until that happens . . .

Don’t you think that, if I am paying my server more than the server’s so-called employer, I ought to be the one in charge?

That’s what happens in other “intermediary” situations. If I hire a broker for stocks or insurance or real estate and I place an order, they are required to execute my order.

So, if I am hiring a server, shouldn’t they also have to execute my order?

Now I’m sure you’re thinking: Steve, isn’t that exactly what they do?

Well, the answer is: no, that’s probably not what they do, but you’ve never tried placing orders that they would refuse.

So here’s a little exercise for you. Next time you go to the Good Food Bistro in your neighborhood, ask the server to bring you a plate from the Better Food Café down the street. It’s not going to happen. But it should. You’re the one paying them.

It would be great for competition. In most industries, when you unbundle products from related services, it’s supposed to foster competition. And we all know how great competition is.

If restaurant owners want loyalty from their servers, don’t you think they ought to pay for it?

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