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December 18, 2017

Some Diners Don’t Appreciate “Kitchen Appreciation”

Filed under: Business,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:12 am

Friends of MrConsumer have been trained to check the fine print of their transactions. A bit of scrutiny of a recent restaurant bill revealed a surprising add-on to the check:

*MOUSE PRINT:

Kitchen appreication

An extra charge of $1.29 called “kitchen appreciation” was added to the tab. When my friend asked the server what that was, he got kind of a muddled explanation, and was told to check the menu.

On the Sweet Cheeks menu (which is owned by first season Top Chef finalist Tiffany Faison) there is a disclosure that reads in part:

WE ARE IMPLEMENTING A 3% KITCHEN APPRECIATION FEE TO THE GUEST CHECK THAT WILL DIRECTLY BENEFIT OUR BACK OF THE HOUSE (BOH) TEAM.

WE STRUGGLE WITH THE DISPARITIES BETWEEN FRONT OF THE HOUSE (FOH) AND BOH WAGES.

THE WAGE GAP BETWEEN THE FOH AND BOH HAS BECOME STAGGERING. FOH EMPLOYEES EARN NEARLY THREE TIMES MORE THAN THEIR BOH COUNTERPARTS.

THE KITCHEN APPRECIATION FEE ALLOWS ALL BOH EMPLOYEES TO DIRECTLY BENEFIT FROM THE TOP LINE SUCCESS OF THE RESTAURANT.

Put simply, the customer is being told that they must subsidize the comparatively low wages of the kitchen staff by being surcharged 3-percent on the total bill. (MrConsumer might point out that the restaurant then appears to charge meals tax on top of this kitchen tip which is probably not authorized under state law.)

Sweet Cheeks didn’t come up with this idea on their own. Famous New York restaurateur Danny Meyer two years ago started the ball rolling by no longer allowing tipping so he could instead charge more for meals and then more equitably distribute the extra income between servers and kitchen staff. Other restaurants began adding hospitality fees as a way to better pay and retain kitchen staff.

So, what do you think about adding a 3-percent “kitchen appreciation” fee automatically to restaurant bills? Add your comments below.

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25 Comments

  1. Um, why not just pay the staff more?

    Comment by david — December 18, 2017 @ 6:53 am
  2. Thank you for bringing this out in the open. Why not pay the BOH staff more, why does the Customer have to subsidize the pay for staff? I would rather pay more for a meal knowing the money would allow for the entire house staff to get paid a living wage.
    This is a sad state of affairs to work in the service industry.

    Comment by Indy Oconnell — December 18, 2017 @ 7:13 am
  3. And they are giving it to the BOH? Right. Sure. Tipping is a voluntary issue and this is another example such as adding on an 18% SC to take that out of the hands of the customer. Pay a living wage or simply build it into your prices which is down in many other countries.

    Comment by Rick M. — December 18, 2017 @ 7:49 am
  4. Seems simple enough, just reduce your tip by 3%, do your part to even out front and back

    Comment by dave — December 18, 2017 @ 7:56 am
  5. Into how many slices can you carve the same pie? As many as you want, I guess. After all, it’s YOUR restaurant. But it’s MY wallet, and the bottom line cost of the meal is what matters. I agree with Dave: reduce the tip by the equivalent amount. Then don’t grace their threshold with your presence in the future. That is how consumers vote.

    Comment by Marty — December 18, 2017 @ 8:26 am
  6. If this was a nice meal at nice place I wouldn’t notice the bill being 3% higher. That should be the simplest solution.

    I enjoy eating out and am of the opinion that if I can’t afford to tip generously I can’t afford to eat out. I enjoy my meal more when I can be generous to people working long hours supporting my indulgences.

    This could just as easily be left to the consumer if the owner trusted the consumer. The back staff would be better off with me if their was a separate line giving me that option for “Backstaff Thanks/Kitchen Appreciation”. A 3% “fee” undershoots my level of appreciation of a well prepared meal with clean dishes and utensils.

    Comment by Jim — December 18, 2017 @ 8:43 am
  7. I usually tip 20% but they will only get 17% if I see this on my bill.

    Comment by Peter — December 18, 2017 @ 8:47 am
  8. Something about this just seems political in nature. Like they’re trying to draw attention to wage disparities inside a restaurant and make it a larger issue. I’ll be honest, and maybe this is heartless, but I don’t care about who makes what when I go to a restaurant. Raise your menu prices if you need to pay your staff more. This fee and accompanying explanation would only ensure I never go back to that restaurant.

    Comment by Tony — December 18, 2017 @ 8:48 am
  9. Another Way to say Healthcare increase cost right??

    You could increase the price on the menu and anger the customers that way though.

    Comment by Richard — December 18, 2017 @ 9:04 am
  10. Like a built in gratuity I do no support those restaurants. Call me scrooge but I do not believe in tipping. For good quality meals I will fork out the money but hope from the higher prices they are factoring in the extra cost of quality / wages and passing that onto the employees in the form of a higher wages.

    Comment by Scott — December 18, 2017 @ 9:52 am
  11. I think it is an outrage. I am tired of places and airlines quoting a certain price and boosting their prices with a ton of add ons. You need to be a mathematician to figure things out. I am also tired of tradespeople adding a traveling charge to every bill. That is a cost of doing business. I don’t get paid to travel to a job. Why should they?
    If a restaurant needs to charge more to pay the help a living wage then just raise prices. In this way their menus don’t have to be reprinted, but how do you know the kitchen help will get that extra amount in their paycheck?

    Comment by Nancy Sing — December 18, 2017 @ 10:04 am
  12. On one hand, I don’t get why the disparity between server tips and kitchen employees is an issue that needs to be resolved. Tips are tips, customers pay what they want to servers. Just pay kitchen staff a fair wage and don’t compare their wages to server tips. On the other hand, go ahead and pay kitchen staff a fair wage! If that’s broken out in the check and the customer is informed up front, who cares? The customer will either pay it or eat elsewhere. But on the third hand, taxing that kitchen appreciation tip does seem fishy. I’m unclear on whether it’s a fee or a tip, though.

    Comment by Shawn — December 18, 2017 @ 10:35 am
  13. I would REFUSE to pay the extra fee. Fridays in NYC tried to impose a mandory 20% tip on my meal and I refused. Waitress wass rude and the got BO tip. Its up to the consumer.

    Comment by Steve OLeary — December 18, 2017 @ 11:21 am
  14. This is weird. Me and my social circle once all did our stint as restaurant workers. Every single place required the Front Staff to give over a percentage of their tips to the Back Folk, for just this reason. But it was only a small percentage because the Back Folk actually received a recognizable wage.

    Today, I’m a staunch advocate of abolishing this stupid system. Pay the staff minimum wage or better like every other employee in the land. Put tipping back in its original slot as a voluntary reward expressing thanks for exceptional service.

    Comment by Blaze — December 18, 2017 @ 11:54 am
  15. It’s just another way to raise the price of the product without making it so obvious upfront, just like a hotel “resort fee” or a car dealership “doc fee”. I’m not so stupid as to believe the BOH fee is going directly to the kitchen staff. Pay the employees honestly and leave me out of your social justice crusade.

    Comment by Robin — December 18, 2017 @ 12:19 pm
  16. How about businesses just price things that cover all of the employees wages for both the servers and the kitchen employees. Just do away with the tipping and surcharge nonsense.

    Disclaimer: I do tip generously since that is the current system. Just not a fan of the
    practice.

    Comment by Jim — December 18, 2017 @ 1:07 pm
  17. A simple solution would be to pay all of the staff a living wage and let consumers see the actual cost of the meal before they decide to purchase it. I don’t like the practice of tipping because I already expect service to be adequate. That should be included in the advertised cost of the meal.

    Comment by Wayne — December 18, 2017 @ 1:33 pm
  18. The fact that you under-pay the BOH staff is your responsibility, not mine. Just do the right thing and stop attempting to make it my problem.

    Comment by Deejer — December 18, 2017 @ 2:10 pm
  19. Scott, I’m not sure where you live but in my state the IRS taxes the restaurant employees using total sales as a baseline. So you not tipping doesn’t penalize the owner who doesn’t pay a living wage but the employees. They are taxed on what the ‘state’ says you made, whether or not you actually made that much in tips.

    Comment by Gert — December 18, 2017 @ 2:28 pm
  20. No problem. I will just refuse to tip at those restaurants and would note it on my bill as to why when I went to pay it.

    Comment by Roy — December 18, 2017 @ 2:30 pm
  21. If it goes to the workers in the kitchen – it’s okay with me. $1.29 is not much these days. For all those complainers – how much do you spend on your smart phones these days!

    Comment by Teri McD — December 18, 2017 @ 4:39 pm
  22. I agree with Dave:
    “Seems simple enough, just reduce your tip by 3%, do your part to even out front and back
    Comment by dave…”
    And I’ll add: And I’ll let them know what I did and why.

    Comment by Phil — December 19, 2017 @ 8:13 am
  23. It seems these days it’s wrong to want to keep your money but it’s ok to take someone else’s.

    Comment by Robert — December 22, 2017 @ 8:18 am
  24. Good point Robert.

    Comment by nickie — December 27, 2017 @ 11:42 am
  25. Overall tipping has gotten out of control. Why was 10% enough when things were cheaper, now when things are expensive, must tip 20%.
    Lets see:
    10%X1.00=$.10
    10%X100.00 =$10.00
    20%X100.00=$20 Seems like”usury”

    Comment by Rich Ray — January 1, 2018 @ 11:13 am

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