Tipping Question ... What would you do???
Went out to a nice restaurant with my boyfriend and had an interesting experience.
After ordering our steak (no apps) we sat there for over an hour. The server showed up once in that hour to ask if I wanted more pop, completely ignoring my boyfriend to see if he wanted more beer. After over an hour we had the chef show up at our table to explain that there had been a mistake and our order had been lost and was never cooked. From that point on the chef served us for the rest of the evening. Bringing over two free apps, two free dessert platters and two free beer. Even going out of his way to find a beer that I like when I informed him that I don't drink beer.
In the end we were at the restaurant for 3 hours and ended up with an amazing meal all served by the chef which was a great touch.
Here is my question ... the server was not really that great. She avoided us for the most part. Never made mention of the fact that we waited so long for our food or that our order was lost. The chef was the one who served us, so she only ended up clearing our plates.
I thought that since the chef went above and beyond to make everything right we needed to tip the server accordingly even though she didn't really do anything. My BF disagreed because we did not receive very good service from her. What does everyone else think??
Well it depends. Did you PAY for anything at the restaurant? I mean, it sounds like you got a good deal (value for money wise) and even if you had tipped a reasonable amount, would have come out ahead (meaning that it would be less than paying for all of what you consumed).
But, I suspect your hesitancy was a basic "why should the money go to the server who did nothing?" If it happened to me, I'd probably still tip about 15-20% to the server and then go back to the restaurant and spend what I would have spent on a future visit. It seemed like they went out of their way to make things right and so would deserve the repeat business.
Perhaps it was the kitchen's fault that the order was lost so the chef was doing all this because he felf he owed it to the server. I'd imagine the server was embarrassed by the whole thing and took the attitude towards the kitchen, "you screwed up, you fix it" which is, of course hardly the best way to handle it. None the less, it appears the restaurant went out of its way to make sure you were taken care of after the mistake was apparent which is very stand up. I'd think that warrants a proper tip, nothing lavish, mind you. Chances are, that tip gets divided up among a number of other people, busser, bartender, host, etc.
The sharing depends on the type of restaurant... If say, a hole in the wall eatery in SF Chinatown then chances are the "tip" goes to the house -- and the house divides it according to their policy (ie 10% to server, 5% to busser, etc) with the largest portion going back to the house. That is why I notice sometimes my parents "palm" a few extra bucks directly to waitstaff who have made our visit exemplary rather than adding the tip to the payment.
Mistakes happen. I'm not perfect, so I don't expect other people to be, either. However, for me, the big issue is how a mistake is dealt with once it is discovered. From your description, it sounds like the restaurant went out of their way to try to compensate for the problem. This is good.
For this effort, I think they should receive at least a "normal" tip in the 15-20% range. Yes, the tip will be divided amongst everyone, but I think it's better to take the high road and tip sufficiently. After all, the chef who served you was doing two jobs at once, pretty impressive.
If the waiter is that rude and useless, so much so that a chef needed to do his job for him, I doubt he'll be there much longer anyway. From what I understand that sort of crap doesn't fly in a teamwork-oriented kitchen, where pawning your work off on another employee is the worst sin you can commit (regardless of who made the initial error, the waiter should have handled it maturely and been the one to rectify the problem for you).
I am usually a very good tipper, but I would not have left any tip here. Somewhere along the line, the basic functioning of the restaurant totally broke down. You apparently don't know where or why that mistake took place and you are not obligated to speculate on it. You went to their resto in good faith with certain reasonable expectations of service. Beer Bistro is not a dump and they should be able to provide excellent service, but the place does have many issues (see this topic and others http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... on the Toronto board). Their inability in this case to live up to even the basic requirements of a resto (take an order, give it to kitchen, cook food, bring it to table) should not be rewarded, despite the efforts they went to to save the day. Your dinner was effectively hijacked by their incompetence. Yes, you enjoyed yourself in the end (and for that they deserve a second chance), but you should have had the same level of enjoyment without having to suffer the embarrassment of being caught in squabble between front of house and back (which then generated a dispute with your bf). If it had been my resto, I would have comped you the entire meal and refused any tip.