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18% gratuity per server?

We are hosting a christening lunch for my daughterr at a local restaurant. It will be fairly large, 70 people, and served buffet style in a private room. I went over contract details with the owner yesterday and they are really giving me a good price. But they are including 18% gratuity, per server. There will be 2 servers. I understand 18% gratuity, but not per server, that is like paying 36%. I questioned the owner and he said its because the servers will be doing everything - bussing tables, clean up etc. He said they do it for all large parties. Still seems odd. Has anyone else heard of this? IfI did not already send out invitations, I'd consider looking elsewhere.....

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  1. I have never heard of that and want to know where this has happened because I am in your general area!

    Gratuity should be 18-20% (a lot of places add 20) on the total expenditure to be shared by the servers. It is not at all reasonable to asses the gratuity on the total bill and then apply it to each server particularly for buffet service.

    That said, If you like the place and are getting a great deal then it may make perfect sense to accept this inappropriate way of charging for service because the total bill is still a good value. Take the true total including gratuity, divide it by the number of guests and ask yourself if it is a fair price.

    And tell us where this happened!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kater

      Its From The Boot restaurant.... I'll post this on our local board too......

      1. re: AmblerGirl

        I still have never been there but it has a good buzz here, I think you've written about it before as have others. At this point, you know you're not losing your mind... it is a weird and inappropriate way to assess a labor charge. But since you like the food and the restaurant and the invites are out already, I still think you should just look at the cost per person at the end of the day and if that isn't crazy then focus on the total and pretend they're not being so weird!

    2. Gratuity should be 18-20% of the pre-tax total. Not per server--that is outrageous, especially for a buffet. Using the owner's logic, that would mean you should tip each employee separately at a regular meal? You should consider looking elsewhere anyway and let that be known to this restaurant.

      Personally, I wouldn't have sent invites until I had a firm price on the event.

      1. I agree that is inappropriate.

        1. That's very, very peculiar.

          A "service charge" for buffet servers who're replenishing/clearing and bussing tables should be a one-line item that's 20% at the most.

          If this restaurateur is weird enough to try to varnish a 36% gratuity with the "per server" line, I'd also go as far as to guess that the *entirety* of that amount isn't going to his servers.

          I offer *my* banquet customers a good price -- thus we do a lot of them -- but I don't underestimate their intelligence by making up part of my margin with inflated service charges.

          It's a shame you sent out invitations. Had you not, I'd have recommended you look for another venue. Take the advice of Kater, above, who suggests to examine the bottom-line value of the meal. I hope that even with the gratuity, you're enjoying a good value.

          1. Cancel and send out new invitations.....it's cheaper and you will feel better in the end. i.e., you will not have to harbor any pent up anger or resentment when you should be enjoying yourself on this special day.

            btw....you should name the restaurant in my opinion for the benfit of others.