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Servers (present and former), come in!

Related to a thread in another board, someone was saying they have served in a restaurant where tip-out includes the kitchen staff. I've worked in about 20 restaurants, mostly national chains but a few indies and have never heard of this. Bussers, bartenders, barback, hosts/hostesses, yes. Even one place with "server assistants" who had to be tipped, but never the kitchen.

Have you had to tip out the kitchen? If so, what type of place was it (small indie? etc.)

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  1. Since I'm the person you're talking about, I'll start:

    New England
    Large, Upscale Indies (3)


    1. :) Thx. I really hope some other people respond, I'd like to see if this is done elsewhere. I've only waited tables in OH and CA and it may be different in other parts of the country.

      1. I've worked only 3 places. None had you tip the kitchen. You did have to kick in for any AmEx card run through.

        1. Oakland, CA here....yes, many restos here require a kitchen tip out. Amount varies from place to place. At Oliveto we were "forced" to tip one percent of our gross sales @ lunch and 2% at dinner. This added up to lots of money!!! I understand the rationale, but pay your kitchen peeps more; don't put it on the waitstaff to supplement your cheap-ass-ness. Mostly indy restos do this. I think chains and corporate places would get sued.... Adam

          1 Reply
          1. re: adamshoe

            I have worked in both the front and back of the house. In CA, I was tipped out as a member of the kitchen staff - it wasn't a lot, but it was really nice to get an envelope with $100 in it every month or so. To me it was a huge amount of money at the time.

            Remember, in CA, servers are PAID MINIMUM WAGE. That was the rationale for tipping kitchen staff, because the pay scale was so totally out of whack otherwise. They made almost $10 an hour - before tips! The servers at that restaurant still made easily twice what I did.

            Working in the back of the house in a restaurant is never going to be a highly paid job . . . one of the reasons that I left the field. Restaurants can't afford to pay more . . . and I'm sorry, having been a server, most servers can part with a few bucks. Especially considering that we are talking about the person who makes all that nice food you serve.

            Having been on both sides of the line, I know that neither job is easier that the other - they both have their hassles. But I definitely know which one is better paid. Servers, hands down.

            I have never seen money cross hands from servers to kitchen in MA, the only other state I've worked in.
            (This is all based on my experience of indie restaurants, I've never worked at a chain.)

          2. I worked at a mid level seafood place with a sushi bar in MA. We had to tip out the sushi chef 5% of our sushi sales. Besides that, just bussers and bar.

            1. Most places the tip out has been busboys, bar and perhaps a runner. I did work at an indie hibachi place, where they seat guests around a "u" shaped table that has the hibchi in the middle. The chef cooks and entertains. Pretty easy server job unless you had heavy, quick drinkers - and that was because they had the slowest bartender that ever lived...

              Tip out there was 50% to the chef. 10% went to the bar, even if you had no liquor sales, 10% to the bus staff. On weekend nights there was a soup/salad person.It was your option what to tip for that. Seeing as how they were of greater help than the bartender, I'd give 10%. The remaining 20-30% was yours. All tips went into little locked boxes, opened by the bookkeeper at the end of the shift, all accounting done under her watchful eye. Amazingly you still did ok, not great, but ok. Once I saw what the situation was I found another job fast!
              The chefs there did great, they never left if they had a choice about it! They were also paid the going area hourly for cooks, $8-10 at that time, plus the tips!

              1. Nope.

                I've worked in CO, CA, LA, NC, TX, and NY, and I've never had to tip out the kitchen. I suppose in theory I like the idea, but when I was doing kitchen prep (salads and desserts) I made a decent wage, compared with what I made as a barback, even after getting tipped out!

                1. I work in CA and we do tip out the kitchen, but we all know it's illegal. I work in a very small restaurant and make pretty good money, so it's easier to just do it and not make a stink, because I like my job. I've worked at bigger places and it was a no-no because of legal reasons.

                  1. My son used to serve at an upscale Sushi Restaurant/lounge in Hollywood, CA and had to tip out the sushi chefs in the kitchen. I know that the establishment was hit with a class action suit and believe that this tip-out was part of the reason.

                    1. At the Yellowstone Nat'l Park restaurant (very non-fancy, family place) we might toss a couple bucks to a cook who'd gone above and beyond for us but it certainly wasn't required.

                      1. Normally just two runners, busboys, host and bar. But on holidays! Then we are expected to also kick something to the kitchen and the dishwasher, plus there's an extra floating waiter that you have to tip. Normally tip out is about 35% of your tips (7.5 of sales) but it's 50 plus on holidays. Strangely enough when I worked at smaller restaurants the owner would give the kitchen staff extra on those days, I guess he figured we were all working harder than usual. All in CA by the way.