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Aug 12, 2005 10:03 AM

Question about the new service charges at Per Se and others...

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OK I know there are many schools of thought on what you exactly tip on: total before tax? after tax? What about wine? Is it the the same % when you buy a $30 bottle or $300 bottle etc etc. or do you tip on the food and then tack on extra $$'s based on whether you got extra service for the wine.

Does any one know what Per Se (or any of the other places who are adding a service charge) is using when calculating said charge?

And if the place is adding it to the total (wine included) and you get no extra service regardless of the price of the wine (meaning for any wine all they do is open it and then pour it throughout the meal) would this make you rethink and/or challenge this practice?

(Yes I know that entree prices, etc can vary and therefore can impact the service charge/tip but not the way wine does. You don't have entrees at $40 and entrees at $400)

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  1. apparently, it is on the whole bill.

    Seems slightly unfair to have to pay 20% on an expensive bottle or two of wine.

    I regularly do if the sommelier assists, but if I just order a couple bottles of expensive wine, bringing it to the table is worth $100??

    1 Reply
    1. re: supa

      i agree with you. I prefer to personally tip the sommelier with cash. But I guess that is one of the points of adding it to the bill so that it becomes a shared tip pool.

    2. At the French Laundry, a 19% service charge is added to the pre-tax total. The kicker is that the service charge is itself subject to sales tax, so in effect you are tipping the State of California as well as the servers.


      1. This doesn't directly mention your concern, and I mentioned this below but maybe it's worth bringing up again...IF a restaurant decides to tack on a service charge, I think it would be great if it were all calculated in the price of each dish, along with tax (as it's done in Europe). That way you know right off the bat what you're paying for the entire dining experience.

        I also agree with Matson Jones below that there's something to be said for only including service charges at high-end restaurants where you can be assured of getting superior service (and perhaps having the advantage of an active sommelier as well).

        1 Reply
        1. re: JulesEV

          smartest suggestion I've heard (adding tax to price of each dish) !!!