Maitre d' Tip??
We ate at a small neighborhood restaurant last night. When the credit card slip came there was a small line underneath the one designated for "tip" that said "maitre d' tip." This was a new one to me. Anyone seen this before? Comments on the appropriateness of separately tipping the maitre d' (something that had not occurred to me) and the appropriateness of a restaurant expressly asking for a separate tip?
(As an aside, we didn't even consider leaving extra money. This was about a 30-seater restaurant and the "maitre d'" was the owner, we're pretty sure, who told us we could "sit anywhere" when we walked into a nearly empty restaurant, but then shoo'd us from our selected table because there were two of us and it was set for three, and spent the rest of the evening chatting with another patron while her single waiter ran his butt off trying to cover the by-then full dining room)
A 15% or greater tip is essentially mandatory (crappy service notwithstanding) because almost everywhere in the U.S., servers are paid $2 or $3 an hour with the understanding that tips will at least make up the difference.
Hosts, hostesses and maitres d' are not classified as "tipped employees", they get a real salary, and thus I tip them when they've performed some service above and beyond the customary for me.
And I don't tip for better tables -- that is frowned upon in Los Angeles as "one of those New York entitlement things".
re: Das Ubergeek
DU, as a Joisey boy (i think i saw that in another post) you should know the diff between NY entitlement and NY grease the palm.
NY Entitlement means walking into a resto and loudly demanding a better table because of "WHO I AM."
NY Grease the Palm is silently slipping the MD a tenner and having a "better" table.
One is entitled the other is paid for.
From what I hear, in many/most places the tip you leave for the server gets split with the busboy, maybe even the bartender, and heaven knows who else. If the guy who walks me 20 feet and hands me a menu expects anything substantial in comparison to a server running themselves silly to keep me happy, he's got another think coming.
I have tipped MD's on the way in not the way out, sometimes the only way to get a good table.
IMHO I would like to see the charge slips at higher end restos put a separate line for the sommelier tip. The amount has been the subject of numerous threads, but there should be a separate line and then it does not get involed with the who 15-30% discussions that have gone on.
That's ridiculous, tips are for the team.
A variation on this same subject: when you have a party of 6 or more, a line at the bottom of the bill will says "18% tip " (sometimes even 20%), automatically pre-adding the amount, and right below an extra line "Additional tip". I just ignore it.
Many restaurant patrons use 20% as the starting point for calcluating the tip. If the service is exceptional, many will increase the the percentage, hence the "Additional tip" line.
There are times when it is appropriate to tip an individual team member (sommelier, maitre d', second server, etc.) beyond the regular tip, such as when s/he has provided exceptional personal service. One example: a number of years ago, I was having dinner at a family-friendly resto with some friends whom I hadn't seen in a number of years.
A 2 or 3 yo kid couple of tables away wasn't having a good time and, despite mom's earnest efforts to soothe her, decided to inform everyone in the restaurant of the fact by imitating an air raid siren. After a couple of minutes (it may actually have been only a few seconds, but it seemed much longer), a busboy approached the table, crouched down beside said air raid siren, and started making silly faces and doing some magic tricks. Kid clammed right up and started laughing and burbling and waving her arms with delight. Busboy played with the kid a few more minutes before going back to work but not before making her a paper rose and a couple of orgami animals to play with, and every time he walked by their table he caught her eye and made a funny face at her.
Wasn't my kid, wasn't my table, but you darn well better believe I tipped the busboy separately.