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Mar 17, 2012 08:58 PM

Blue Parrot Bar & Grille in Wilmington

BEWARE! Be careful to check you bill and receipt.

Here is a place on Union St. in Wilmington that is a cheap imitation of NOLA, but has some great food & good music. Please understand, I like this place.

However, after enjoying a good meal tonight (3/17/12), my wife dutifully checked the tab and noticed that a tip had already been included in the bill.

I'm talking about a party of three occupying a high-top for dinner. I'm not talking about a recommended tip, but an amount included in the bottom line.

They added, without notice of any type, 18% to the tab. When questioned about this added "fee", the manager's response was, "but it is underlined" and "we've been doing this for months".

I may be old school, but I'm still of the opinion that I will determine a gratuity for services rendered, not the restaurant's management.

The party of three, including my wife, a friend and myself, has an accrued experience span of more the 45 years in the bar/restaurant business. By arbitrarily adding a predetermined gratuity, the management probably cost that server at least another 5%-7%.

But my major concern is the fee, this is not a tip, that is fraudulently taken with no consideration to the customer.

Even moreso, without notice, I'm curious as to how many people don't realize there has been a tacked-on fee. And on top of that assumed gratuity, if they are unknowling including the amount in the total upon which they may be determining their voluntary gratuity.

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  1. So, it wasn't on the menu like you see at the bottom of the page "for parties of six or more" and they just tacked it onto the bill? I'm no lawyer but that doesn't sound legal to me. I've not been there recently but had eaten there several times. If that's their unwritten policy I won't be going back. If it is obviously stated somewhere, I can make a choice whether to stay or not. After I'm done eating it's a little late.

    5 Replies
    1. re: RC51Mike

      If it is there, it is buried and the owner made no attempt to inform me it was on the menu, just stating that they "underline" it on the check. He state he has been doing this for months, though I have never noticed before.

      Checked with a friend that frequents and blogs about the restaurant scene in Wilmington and surrounding areas, and she was surprised. She did note that the owner was moving to sell the business, so I'm not sure if that had a part in this, but I will not be back until that does happen and/or the policy changes.

      As noted, I like the place, but I will be the one to determine gratuity, not the restaurant.

      1. re: Irishmafia

        So the manager did not show you where this FEE appears on the menu? He just stated that, "they underline it on the bill?" And this was for a party of three?

        Had I been in your position, I would have paid the bill less the 18% gratuity. I would then explain to the manager exactly why I was doing so. If the manager wants to come after me in Small Claims Court then let him.

        I am not a lawyer either, but I am fairly certain that you cannot charge me for something that 1.) I did not order and/or, 2.) I was not properly informed of. I have a feeling a judge would throw something like this out of small claims court!

        No need to visit this establishment. I would let the woman that blogs over at the News Journal of this situation. I think she might be interested in this story. I would certainly try and get the word out on this practice.

        1. re: genevapics

          +1, genevapics. It makes me crazy when restaurants try to pull this stuff. You're not required to pay it, and I have in fact done just what you suggest--don't pay the 18%, and tell the manager exactly what you're doing.

          1. re: travelmad478

            And you wonder how much of the 18% is actually going to the server and not the management.

            1. re: bluehensfan

              Even a better question. If this is a given on every bill, does that mean there is no longer a gratuity involved? If there is no gratuity to be earned, could that not void the employer's minimum wage exemption?

              It doesn't matter, I've been in there the last time until it is sold and this practice is discontinued.

    2. To a certain extent I'm not surprised about this move, seems to me the place has been going downhill for some time. The food is no longer very good and it's far from clean......the mention of it trying to be sold also is not surprising....

      1. Stuff like this drives me crazy, I always tip a minimum of 25% (and usually more) if I get decent service, but not when it's forced liked this. Sort of like how I am glad to give to charity but not so happy on April 15...