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Tipping Question ... What would you do???

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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??

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  1. 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.

    TT

    1. 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.

      1. Also, that tip doesn't all go to the server. It usually has to be shared with the prep/cleanup staff.

        1 Reply
        1. re: monkeyrotica

          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.

        2. 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).

          1. 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.

            1. p.s. I don't think the chef should be serving tables at Beer Bistro, nor at any resto of its calibre. They have f.o.h. managers who should have seen to it. What a mess!

              1. Given the facts in this case tippo is zippo. Waiter ignored table, offered no apology and probably won't be there next time. Did it not phase the waiter that nothing was served in an hour, major dolt.

                Meal was great and comped, waaaaay over the top good job by chef.

                I would probably have made a reservation on the way out for the following weekend.

                1. No tip to the server (who basically bused your table), but explain to the manager why and if the manager can explain why the server was not negligent, then you have an opportunity avoid the obvious judgment. Make a new reservation to reward the back of the house for making a valiant effort to save the day.

                  1. I forgot about this, but the manager didn't even seem to know that there had been a problem. He is the one who ended up getting my boyfriend another beer when he saw that his was empty.

                    I also never mention that at the start of the evening the we had been sat at one table and the manager asked if we would mind being moved to another table. We ended up with a better table, but from my experience in the industry this should have been accompanied by a free round of drinks. Although by the end of the night I think we received enough free items.

                    1. Hi there... I used to be a server when I put myself thru college and so I know how important it is to receive good service and to reward that good service w/a good tip. My recommendation would have been to talk to the manager and instruct that person to give your tip to the chef, not your server, since that is the person that made your dining experience worth while.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lilyalli

                        There is no evidence that it wasn't the kitchen's screw up. I still say she is not obligated to even speculate on it, let alone leave a tip. The tip is for the whole house, not just the server.

                      2. I'm one of those people who tips based on service. My standard is 15%, with it going as high as 25% for really good service and has tipped less than 10% when service was really bad. In this case, I would leave a very small tip for the server and ask the manager to give the kitchen staff a separate, higher tip. I agree that it isn't so much that someone made a mistake, it's what corrective action was taken. It wouldn't have killed your server to inform you that there was a mistake. At the very least, she could have at least kept up with the drinks. Regardless of the mistake, I would have tipped her very little because her service was poor.