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How do busboys get paid?

While I realize it's probably up to the establishment, is there a general rule of thumb for 'fine dining' type establishments?

Last night, was out for a special occasion. Our server was average when he was present, but barely attentive - but it was really the busboy who took good care of us.

From what I know of the place, there seemed to be one busboy for every waiter. I left feeling like I should have given a portion of my tip to the busboy and left the rest for the waiter - but, I also figured, they probably had a method of splitting it.

Any thoughts as to how this is figured out? I'm frustrated at myself for not taking 5 minutes and inquiring about this....

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  1. In Fl they get minimum wage and 10-15% of tips to wait staff. They depend on honesty from the servers to actually give them their correct percentage and to remember to pay them at all.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smartie

      As a busboy in Florida I got 5.00 hr plus 3% of sales. .. should I change jobs?

    2. at most places, the bus/dish staff have a higher hourly wage than the servers, and the servers "tip out" the support staff, with percentages going to bus/dish, barstaff, host, etc. i would presume that the busser would make 10-15% of the server's tips as her/his "tip out" at the end of the night. sometimes the supporting staff, such as "runners," and less often, bus/dish, are in line for serving shifts at the restaurant.

      2 Replies
      1. re: soupkitten

        At my resto, the waiters tipped out the bussers between 15 and 20% of their gross tips received. You should have left a nice side tip for the busser and a lowly tip for your sub-par service from the waiter. And told the waiter why, too.
        Our bussers started @ min. wage, but several got raises depending on their length (and quality) of service. Good waiters are in readily available supply here in the Oakland/ SF area, but a good busboy or girl is worth their weight in petroleum!

        1. re: adamshoe

          I agree with you about good bussers, good ones have the skills of magicians crossed with the invisible man.

          My favorite used to be the one (and only) at Dong il Jang in LA. Empty dishes would vanish from your table without him seeming to slow down as he walked past. Water glasses seemed to automatically refill after hitting the half-full point. My wife at the time didn't even realize how good he was until I pointed it out, she then felt compelled to tip him a bit extra. Watching him work the other tables became part of the floor show.

      2. Busfolks make a better hourly wage, also the waitstaff usually 'tips out' the busfolks at the end of the night, it could be a fixed amount, depending on the place, or a percent of the waitstaff total for the evening. I've seen some places give as little $10 for the night. I would have slipped him something for salvaging your evening.

        1. It does depend on the restaurant but generally where I live (midwest) they make min. wage (unlike servers) and receive a portion of each server's tips. At independent places the percentage may be "suggested" and "on your honor" - they may tell you when you start that generally the bussers get 1% of your sales each night for example, and then you are expected to just give them that amount without anyone verifying your sales or what you've given them. In most chains I've worked at it is a flat percentage (1-3%) and you must hand it over when cashing in with the manager for the night, they give it to the bussers. You also have to tip the bar via the manager and it is another flat percentage (1-3). I think they do this because so many people were lying and trying to keep all the money they earned over the course of an evening. It's hard when you are undertipped or have a dine and dash or someone who left 6% or 8% tip and still have to fork over the tipout from what money you have leftover based on your sales, not your total tips. If you work a weeknight dinner shift and only had, say, 3 tables and made, say, $15 from each of them, you end up working like 6 hours with sidework and rolling silverware for your $45, then you end up having to give away $7 to tipout, so you're walking with $38 for 6 hours work. It's tough. Not saying I know the solution, other than elimination of all tip-dependent wage class (servers).

          1 Reply
          1. re: rockandroller1

            It's the same at my place, the benefit for the server is when people do tip well you get to keep the extra. So, while it hurts some shifts when you only walk with 10% of sales, other times you make 15% and it all works out.

          2. Most waiters know that it pays to keep the bus staff happy. They can make your shift wildly successful or miserable, so it's best to tip well. These are the people you can say"Please, I need 5 expressos for Table 20" or "Can you bring extra bread and butter to the group at Table 12", etc. They will be right there for the waiter who takes care of them at the end of the shift. I always over tipped the bus staff, and most waiters I knew did the same. They probably can make a good salary in the right kind of restaurant (expensive).