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Tipping FOH/BOH


Not intending to get in to a debate about percentages and what not - but a simple question.

Can anyone see a valid reason that our tips shouldn't be split equally between FOH and BOH?

I've thought about it long, and hard, and I cannot. It seems this inequity between FOH and BOH has no basis in sound practice; both share equally in providing us with a good meal and experience.

BOH generally requires more education as well, and yet they go on to earn just barely above minimum wage, while the FOH earns perhaps 200-300% more per hour - but for what? Are they really that much more valuable to our experience than the food itself? For me, it's 50/50. Both have to be good in order for me to enjoy my meal - so I give no great value to FOH over what BOH contributes.

I've thought about trying to enforce this principal on restaurants that I dine in - but it would be a great hassle to them unless it was standard policy.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but to me, this is an issue.

Anyone else feel the same? Differently?

  1. I can't say they should be split evenly, unless the BOH is willing to take a pay cut and earn what the servers do per hour, but the servers SHOULD tip their cooks and busboys.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PotatoHouse

      You don't think they'd give up $3-4/hour to gain $15-25/hour? (just using approximations)

      And in my experience, yes, they do tip out - but it's fairly inadequate. FOH makes a lopsided amount of money compared to BOH.

      1. re: justxpete

        You apparently have a lopsided view of what waitstaff make in tips.

    2. I agree that kitchen staff should have the same sort of pay structure as waitstaff: base wage + percentage of food sales. If a server turns lots of tables, they deserve to make more in tips, but they're also sending more orders to the kitchen, so the BOH is working harder, too.

      I disagree that any of this is of concern to the diner, however. I'm there to eat my meal and pay for it, not to play owner/manager and decide how much everyone gets paid.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DeppityDawg

        In Toronto we are apparently having a shortage of good talent for our kitchens. It may be caused by many factors, but it stands to reason that it will not fix itself, and if we as consumers don't act, we will eventually suffer. Who in their right mind wants to work 14 hours a day in a hot kitchen for minimum wage?

        But more than that, we're the ones with the power, and have the ability to affect change. And it's the right thing to do.

        1. re: justxpete

          You should certainly make inquiries and suggestions at the restaurants you go to, since this is an important issue for you. I just don't see this becoming a consumer-driven movement. Tipping is awkward and fraught enough as it is; people don't want to think about it any more than they have to, and they definitely don't want to initiate a conversation about it with their servers or with the management.

          If there is a shortage of BOH talent, then the wages offered for BOH jobs will increase, and menu prices will go up to cover this. In that sense, the problem will fix itself with no direct action from consumers. We do have the power collectively to accept or reject this change, but we can't dictate the details of day-to-day restaurant operation.

      2. I have problems with your supposition that the BOH requires more education than the FOH. These are very broad terms, and while a chef du cuisine shoudl have received more education than a server, he may not have as much education as a sommelier. A pot washer needs little or nop education, which is why it is a typical job for new immigrants who don't speak the language or have no ability to read or write.
        A don't think chefs (not line cooks) readilly work for a wage barely above minimum.
        BOH is guaranteed their wage for hours worked no matter how many tables sit that evening. Last week my daughter worked serving one evening when there were terrible thunderstorms. Her 5 hour shift had no patrons. She was the only server plus one bartender, the rest were sent home, but as the establishment was open, she was paid $20 for her shift and no tips. The dishwasher, who speaks no English and had no dishes to wash collected $8.25 hr CT minimum wage.

        Bluntly put, when I dine, I tip for service rendered diorectly to me. I tip the server and have no objection to her tipping out the busboy/runner/barback/hostess. BUT there si no reason to share that tip with BOH, especially those who provided nothing for my order. If I ordered a fish and chips, why should the grillman, salad chef and potwasher share in my tip? Only the frycook and dishwasher are directly involved.

        Late Saturday night we stopped in at the establishment where daughter serves (on the weekend) for a drink and light food. All 4 orders were incorrectly cooked or plated by the BOH. Daughter said it had been that way all night. When she took back a wrap that had been ordered with sliced oranges instead if fries (a choice on the menu) the cook said, you want orange slices, you slice it and serve it yourself. So daughter went to the bar, grabbed an orange (they keep them there for the Blue Moon), sliced it up and placed it on a plate and delivered it to the table. And you think she should share her tip with the BOH? Not a chance.

        BTW>>>I've worked BOH and FOH, tips are for service personnel.

        11 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          It was a general statement. Sure, cooks often aren't more educated than a sommelier or maitre'd, but schooling is mostly required to become a cook, while none is required to be a server - and they typically make much more than any BOH worker.

          If your daughter works in a place that scoffs at her requests, then that's a management issue, not a philosophical one.

          All those people are partly responsible for you food. It's not an individual effort and experience.

          And the upsides of shared pool far exceed an occasional night where they don't make as much money as normal.

          1. re: justxpete

            You are making assumptions. Schooling in not "mostly required" to become a cook. Go into any restaurant kitchen and you will see for yourself.
            Chefs that run the kitchen may certainly have more education, but the cooks in their employ usually learn on the line.
            FOH staff is crucial to the success of the business, and yes, so is the food. But how many threads have we seen where there is a diner upset over lack of service, and they will never return?

            1. re: wyogal

              I'm not making any assumptions. It depends entirely on the locale. In Ontario, it's difficult for a cook to get hired without experience unless they've went to college.

              To your last point, for me it's 50/50. I can be upset over food or service, and either one will dictate that I not return.

          2. re: bagelman01

            by law, employers must make up the difference for any employee receiving differential wage (below minimum on the expectation that s/he earns tips) who does not earn enough tips in a shift to equal minimum wage.

            in other words, if your employer pays you below minimum wage, and for any reason in a given shift your wage + tips are less than minimum, your employer must pay the difference.

            1. re: chartreauxx

              Labor/wage laws vary by jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions the employer only has to make up the difference when the server is short for the pay period. So if my daughter worked 4 5 hours shifts (THURS, FRI, SAT SUN) with the week ending on Sunday and averaged $25 per hour (including tips) on 3 nights and bombed one night due to weather, the employer might not have to make up the difference for the one night.

            2. re: bagelman01

              If she was only paid $20 for her shift then her employer is breaking the law. He is REQUIRED to make up the difference if her tip average does not bring her up to the federal/state minimum wage, which as you state in your post is $8.25 an hour.

              1. re: PotatoHouse

                The tip credit is not determined on an hour-by-hour or shift-by-shift basis. It's usually based on tips earned over an entire pay period (2 weeks or whatever). I'm pretty sure that if bagelman01's daughter's employer were breaking the law, we'd know about it…

                1. re: DeppityDawg

                  That is why I said her tip average.

                  1. re: PotatoHouse

                    bagelman01 has stated elsewhere that his daughter averages $200 per shift. I don't think her employer has to worry about making up any difference to bring her up to minimum wage. Unless she actually receives a paycheck for each shift, which is doubtful.

                  2. re: DeppityDawg

                    It is calculated by pay period which is a 7 day week. Which I believe is reasonable. If the employer was not following state laws, I'd be happy to represent all the employees pro bono (even if I don't generally practice labor law).

                    It is too onerous to expect employers to calculate averages on a per shift basis. This is expecially so, when servers enter their own earned/received tip amounts into the POS/payroll system. The establishment can only really track tips received via credit card, and have no way to know the net tip after a server tips out other emplyees.
                    Saturday night, daughter had a pre-batchelor party table drinking for 4 hours. $800 check of which $600 was liquor. She tipped the bar back almost 40% of the tip received, since the bar back did so much of the work. If a check was $600 food and $200 liqour, daughter might have kept 85% of the tip.

                  3. re: PotatoHouse

                    see my above reply.....the average is not calculated by shift, but pay period

                2. I can't fix inequities in pay scales, but at a restaurant where I went often, I would regularly buy beer for the kitchen (good beer, not swill). They appreciated it.

                  11 Replies
                    1. re: JonParker

                      This is the most honest and common sense comment in this thread.

                      1. re: jrvedivici

                        Alcohol doesn't help pay their rent or buy their children clothing. Sure, it's nice to do once in a while, but doesn't really accomplish anything. Additionally, not all owners appreciate their employees drinking on-site, even if it is after their shifts.

                        1. re: justxpete

                          Just send the tip to the kitchen, with directions that you'd like it split among the BoH. Beyond that, not sure what else one can do. Some things are beyond our control.

                            1. re: justxpete

                              I have. My point is to just send the $ to the BoH and be done with it, let it go. One can't always control everything. One can only make an effort.

                              1. re: wyogal

                                Point being that you'd annoy the proprietor if done on a regular basis - distributing $1.70 (for example) to 15-20 different employees would be annoying and time consuming.

                                1. re: justxpete

                                  One can't have it both ways. Either tip them, and let them deal with it, or don't, and know that they are getting paid for their jobs.

                                  1. re: wyogal

                                    One of the reasons I started this thread was because I thought someone would come up with something brilliant I hadn't thought of before.

                          1. re: justxpete

                            You're absolutely right. What it does do is show them materially that their contribution to customer satisfaction is appreciated.

                            As for the owner issue, I never knew one that objected. On the contrary, they appreciated it so much that I had to stop posting on Chowhound about them, since I had crossed over into insider territory.

                            Another true story: I was moving and ended up with about a week between giving up the old place and moving into the new one. Since moving is in itself expensive, I posted to Facebook asking my friends if any of them could stand to take me in for a few days rather than pay for a hotel.

                            The only one who responded and gladly took me in was a waitress at that establishment. She didn't know me except as a customer, but she knew I'd treated her and her coworkers well. Not only did she take me in, but she was on vacation at the time and had to arrange for me to get a key from a neighbor. Yeah, she gave me her house while she was out of town, and all she knew about me was that I tipped well and bought beer for her coworkers.

                            Being decent to people is its own reward, but sometimes it pays off in other ways.

                            1. re: JonParker

                              No doubt. Good karma is good karma.

                              Unfortunately, one of the places I frequent doesn't allow their staff to drink on-site (often), but I still don't regard this as a solution.

                      2. FoH and BoH have always been two completely different beasts. George Orwell described it in his 1933 book "Down and Out in Paris and London" based on his experience as a low-end employee at a hotel in Paris. To quote:

                        "Undoubtedly the most workmanlike class, and the least servile, are the
                        cooks. They do not earn quite so much as waiters, but their prestige is
                        higher and their employment steadier. The cook does not look upon himself
                        as a servant, but as a skilled workman; he is generally called '_un ouvrier_'
                        which a waiter never is. He knows his power--knows that he alone makes or
                        mars a restaurant, and that if he is five minutes late everything is out of
                        gear. He despises the whole non-cooking staff, and makes it a point of
                        honour to insult everyone below the head waiter. And he takes a genuine
                        artistic pride in his work, which demands very great skill. It is not the
                        cooking that is so difficult, but the doing everything to time."

                        From http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks01/0100...

                        Now it is certainly true that there are problems with wage discrepancies between FoH and BoH staff, particularly in states where the minimum-wage laws don't have tip credits, but introducing tip credits might be a better way to address that issue. And there is always the option for a restaurant to have a mandatory service charge that it can distribute as it wants. For instance, two-Michelin-star Coi in San Francisco, where there is no tip credit, has a mandatory service charge that is shared among the entire staff.

                        1. There's nothing stopping you from just tipping the BOH.

                          41 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            How would you do that from a practical perspective?

                            1. re: nocharge

                              And on a consistent basis? It's not practical. I do buy the kitchens a round occasionally, but they should be compensated something more than in the form of alcohol for their efforts.

                              1. re: nocharge

                                You tell the manager that you'd like to leave a tip for the kitchen staff.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  And how would it be distributed between the BoH employees? My guess is that most restaurants don't have a lot of procedures in place to deal with that compared to how to deal with FoH tips.

                                  1. re: nocharge

                                    At that point, it really is none of my business.

                                    Even with the FOH, I have no *real* idea how my tip is divvied up.

                                    And really, who cares.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      He's pointing out, correctly, that it isn't really feasible currently.

                                      And, I care. Hence the reason for starting the thread that you've posted in. I care about the people that are making and preparing my food and doing the dishes and serving my bread and everything else. They all contribute to my meal.

                                      1. re: justxpete

                                        There's a difference between feasible and whether it's efficacious.

                                        Just because your tip does not benefit the persons you want or parsed out in the fashion that is satisfactory to you does not mean it's not feasible.

                                        I can eat a pound of cheese, but it won't make me happy. Feasible? Yes. Satisfying? Not in the least.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          FoH employees will likely have a good understanding of the tip-out policies and will probably be informed of them as they are offered employment. And they will probably not be hugely different between different establishments. But now imagine some weirdo telling the manager that he wants to tip the BoH a hundred bucks, something that has never happened before. How do you split it?

                                          1. re: nocharge

                                            Like I said, I don't really care how they split it.

                                            But if a person did, why not instruct the manager on how to split it, or who to give the tip to specifically (in much the same way you would buy a drink for so and so in the back).

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Fair enough, obviously any diner can slip a bill to any restaurant employee they want, and it will probably be appreciated. All I'm saying is that the current tradition, infrastructure, and laws regarding tipping are ill equipped for sharing tips with BoH employees and that's what I thought was what the OP wanted on a larger scale than some customer just telling the manager to slip a bill to the kitchen staff.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                No, you miss the point. It's not feasible because a system does not exist in 99.9 of restaurants to distribute a random tip evenly amongst all of its employees. It's an important point and cannot be just dismissed as "who cares". If you're suggesting that the manager would distribute cash and change to everyone than the proprietor or manager would most likely resent the extra effort incurred, especially if done on a regular basis.

                                                $50 split among 20 employees is not a big deal, but, a thousand dollars split between 20 employees if everyone followed the same practice would be worth the effort.

                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                  There's no mandatory system to distribute tips vis-a-vis FOH either.

                                                  I'm not a labor lawyer but I believe the FLSA does *not* mandate pool-tipping arrangements for FOH -- only that if you do have a pool-tipping arrangement certain rules have to be followed (like who can share in the pool etc.).

                                                  So when you leave your tip for the FOH how do you know it's going to be distributed, if at all?

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    I dont - I don't consider the current tipping system fair but I do it anyway - however, I have little regard for how it's distributed because I know that BOH sees little of it. Some places pool tips among FOH, some do not. But FOH fare much better than BOH, generally.

                                                    Here's some more food for thought if you've not seen it as yet. I was contemplating this prior to the release of this video. It re-enforced my views.


                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      There is no specific system for FoH tip-pooling but there is the labor market. How are you going to retain your best servers or hosts if they will make a small fraction of what they could make at other places just because of your tip-pooling policy being way different than that of most places?

                                                      1. re: nocharge

                                                        Hence the dilemma. As per my last note, Per Se does fairly well, but I don't know when that policy was put in place and if it's possible for most restaurants, currently.

                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                          Yes, absolutely. Restaurants can institute service charges or incorporate service into their menu prices, in which case they have a lot of freedom when it comes to distributing the proceeds. But I think it would require a major cultural shift for that to happen on a large scale.

                                                          1. re: nocharge

                                                            Yes, by "possible", I actually meant "feasible". And, I think you're correct.

                                                            I think it's relatively simple at Per Se because the cheque average is so high, so everyone makes a good amount anyway, despite the tips being pooled. That and the prestige of working, and having worked at Per se.

                                                          2. re: justxpete

                                                            boh and management cannot be included in a tip pool in ny. even per se isn't exempt from the law.

                                                            batali and bastianich just paid $5million in a settlement for abusing tips (and other offenses).

                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                              You don't tip at Per SE - it's included in the price of the food. The staff are then all given a higher hourly wage.

                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                ah, sorry i misspoke. my understanding is he had a huge server turn-over when the policy changed.

                                                                very few places operate at the level of per se, so expecting the servers at your local hang to subsidize boh is just nonsense.

                                                                frankly, i find it slightly offensive that places keller's and masa's don't just charge more for the food and pay hourly workers a more reasonable wage. (masa in fact did lose a tipping pool lawsuit.)

                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                  Are you taking into account the menu price of the food at all? That is how you pay for most of your meal, and that is where all or almost all of the BOH wages come from. You're already paying them. I wish the menu prices (possibly including a declared service charge) covered the FOH wages, too, and we didn't have to tip at all. You're moving in the opposite direction, so I'm not in support of that at all.

                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                    Where I'm from, the prices on the menu barely affect the wage given. It's normally minimum wage or perhaps minimum wage + 10-20 percent more.

                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                      income paid goes according to what the market will bear. if most places are paying $10-$12 an hour and you want to be a line cook, you suck it up. if most places are paying $18, only the worst cooks will take that $10 an hour spot and chances are the place will either not succeed because the food will be krap or they will increase wages to attract better staff.

                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                        The problem is that we're apparently running out of line cooks willing to work 14 hour days for minimum wage, in our city.

                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                          And your solution is that they should go ahead and take those jobs at those wages with the expectation that customers will now start sending tips to the kitchen? Seems like a long shot…

                                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                            No, all I'm hoping for is that somehow, eventually, more restaurants will start pooling their tips and giving more to BOH for their efforts - or, that someone comes up with some genius idea as to how to distribute my tips evenly between foh/boh.

                                                            1. re: justxpete

                                                              If the customer's tip remains the same, this amounts to a pay cut for the FOH. I understand that you are OK with that, since in your opinion FOH is overpaid in comparison with BOH, but it's not going to happen. If you want the BOH to receive tips, customers are going to have give more tips, and that's not going to happen, either (unless there is a significant drop in menu prices, so… not going to happen).

                                                          2. re: justxpete

                                                            so servers should make up the slack?

                                                            one of the arguments that owners use to justify paying servers $2.63 per hour (here in ma) is that menu prices would otherwise go through the roof. yet there are states where this is done everyday and the industry does just fine. it involves conscientious scheduling and not just having every minion coming in at 4:00 whether or not you will be busy.

                                                            last place i worked regularly scheduled 3-5 extra servers every dinner shift. many nights last summer we needed only 2-3 but there were 10 scheduled to come in. utter idiocy.

                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                              Make up what slack? Not sure what you're referring to.

                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                why should server's tips be spread out to include boh?

                                                                if management cannot attract quality cooks at the current level of pay offered, the only solution is to pay more. or have terrible cooks who can't get hired elsewhere for more.

                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                  That isn't feasible, because they would then have to increase the price of their food. Splitting tips betwen BOH and FOH makes so much more sense. Both deserve it equally.

                                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                                    as i mentioned elsewhere in this thread there are states that mandate servers be paid at least minimum wage. having eaten in places like california, nevada and oregon, my perception was not that i was being raked over the coals so owners could afford this. it's a straw horse.

                                                                    if owners need to pay more to attract quality cooks, that's the only answer, unless you want to suggest that servers and cooks be paid the same base and then pool tips?

                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                      Sounds like that is exactly what justxpete is suggesting, with the additional condition that the customer has the power to specify exactly how this tip pool operates. Why not? When you die, you get to divide up your money and say who gets what, so why can't you do this every time you eat out? It's your money, after all, and all these people are working for you in some sense.

                                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                        One can tip whomever they like, they just can't demand how a tip pool should operate, or even if it can.

                                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                          You can do that every meal if you wish. No one is preventing you from handing a twenty dollar bill to the host/ess and saying, 'please give this to the kitchen'.

                                                                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                          " unless you want to suggest that servers and cooks be paid the same base and then pool tips?"


                                                        2. re: justxpete

                                                          Then by all means, send a tip back to the kitchen.

                                                          1. re: wyogal

                                                            It's not that simple. People don't readily carry a bunch of change on them and wouldn't have time to spend splitting $20 between 13 of them. It has to be systematic.

                                                        3. re: ipsedixit

                                                          I wouldn't care either, but the folks who are eager to tip the BoH might.

                                                3. I'm against tip pooling to begin with, and even in the states that do allow it, there are limitations to whom the tips can be distributed to - folks such as the dishwashers, cooks and the employers themselves are not allow to be a part of the tip pool.

                                                  The restaurants are allowed to take a "credit" for tipped positions and thus pay them less per hour. But the real kicker is those mandatory tips that they put on parties of 8 or more at many places, are often listed as a "service charge" and not legally considered a tip - so the employer can actually keep those if they wanted to.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Atomic76

                                                    While personally from an owners stand point I am against tip pooling as well, however I can tell you that in general when the servers pool their tips they work better as a team.

                                                    I have found when they are not pooling tips, if their section is "covered" they will zone out. However when they are pooling tips they are more likely to help their other servers, sections if they see something is needed outside their section.

                                                    I have observed this for years, with a variety of different people, and it just seems to be human nature that if they don't have a financial interest in the other tables they are less likely to "help" fellow servers.

                                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                                      From my experience the opposite is true. Servers realize that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that if people are happy with the service overall, then tips will increase for everyone.

                                                      I think this is the reason that certain economic polies don't work. People do not always act in their direct self interest, as much as some people would like to think so. They're a lot smarter and more complex than that.

                                                      1. re: JonParker

                                                        I should also add, I would let the servers choose which method they wanted. During the week they generally chose to keep their tips independent, on weekends they choose to pool. I would often offer an incentive to the pool for the highest tips of the staff for the night. I would often offer a $50. bonus directly to the highest grossing server. I felt this was fair for two reasons, it gave everyone an incentive to bring the most into the pool, plus it helped "cushion" the blow to the highest grosser who was going to probably walk away with less than their average for the night.

                                                        As I said, I truly found the servers worked better as a team under this method.

                                                  2. Just to throw more confusion in the discussion, I would point out California and Washington State (Maybe more, but these 2 I know). When I worked in BOH in Berkeley and then in Seattle (previous east coaster) I was pleased to receive tips after my shifts. In those states the server minimum wage was actual minimum wage. The cooks were usually paid a bit less, but got tipped out in a pooled manner nightly. I walked with $25 to $40 everynight, as did every other line, prep and dishwasher. basically adding up to $3 to $5 per hour which more then made up for lower hourly start rates. Plus it never occurred to us to claim it. Now California and Washington are big places and I'm sure I was lucky somewhat in where I worked, but it seemed like SOP there. So there's another model to consider.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: coolaugustmoon

                                                      How does one get away with paying BoH people less than minimum wage?
                                                      "In those states the server minimum wage was actual minimum wage. The cooks were usually paid a bit less, but got tipped out"
                                                      Were they taxed, as well?

                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                        Yeah, that really confuses me as well.

                                                        Servers in CA and apparently WA get normal min wage plus tips, but cooks and people in the kitchen get paid less than minimum wage and don't routinely get tips? Do servers not get to keep tips and instead they are given to the BoH? Are the roles reversed? I'm very curious and confused. I always thought the minimum wage law for servers in CA was to help make all servers have more of a liveable wage, not to simply passing off the problem to the BoH.

                                                      2. re: coolaugustmoon

                                                        $2 or so less per hour then states that pay servers 2.63, not $2 below minimum wage.

                                                      3. My preference is always for the system in countries such as Belgium and France where service is inherently included in the menu price of the food and no further payment is required from the customer.

                                                        My second preference is for the restaurant to levy a service charge which it then distributes to all staff by way of a periodic bonus. In this, I entirely agree with the OP that all staff, whether cooks, cleaners or servers, are contributing to my good experience.

                                                        67 Replies
                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                          And I bet that contributes to more self-respect for everyone involved, and they'd take more pride in their work - instead of having to rely on tips, they know they will always get a fair wage, regardless. Makes so much more sense.

                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                            That's a bit too glib of a response.

                                                            Having worked in kitchens, as well as waited tables, I can tell you that neither system is perfect, nor totally disfunctional.

                                                            As a waiter, nothing about the tipping aspect of the job was demoralizing from a "self-respect" standpoint. There is something to be said about being incentivized.

                                                            Conversely, having worked as both a baker and a line-cook, not having tips, or even the expectation of getting tips, never diminished my level of food prep, service, or my own self-respect.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                              I disagree - and I worked 5 years as FOH and BOH when I was much younger - but I guess it's a personal experience or philosophy. In my experience, people with salaried positions generally have more pride than those who work on tips or commission - but of course, individual experience may differ.

                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                Salary is different from hourly, which is different than tips/commission. Just to clarify....

                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                  Part-time is also different from full-time, to clarify as well.

                                                                  It's my understanding that most BOH and FOH in Europe are salaried employees, hence the statement.

                                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                                  for over 2 decades i have worked as a manager, server, bartender and sommelier.

                                                                  i have worked in places where the kitchen staff were worked like dog-boy-slaves by the james beard-award winning chefs, but soldiered on for the sake of their resume and future. this same staff HATED the foh because we did make crazy amounts of money. we blew through several managers who held the same resentment. ya know what? everybody makes choices. i never forced those guys to cook nor those managers not to wait tables.

                                                                  as for tipping boh or pooling tips? it is illegal in my state for anybody being paid at least minimum wage to be part of a tip pool. many restaurants have been sued for ignoring this law.

                                                                  again, those cooks have just as many options for employment choices as the servers do. it's your choice what you pursue for work.

                                                                  as for unskilled/non-english speaking staff, like dishpeople? it's an entry into the laborforce with which to move up the ladder as you gain skills. i know lots who worked their way up to cooks and chefs.

                                                                  if you have some regular hangs and want to give out some christmas tips or something to boh, go for it. but tossing an extra $20 in for the kitchen isn't going to make a dent in their standard of living.

                                                                  do you want your servers to tip the migrant workers who pick your cherries, or the truck driver who delivers the beer kegs? they don't get paid jack either and are part of the same chain making your dinner possible.

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    I dine out almost 365 days a year. I witness the inequity almost every day. FOH does nothing that is exorbitantly more important to me than what BOH does. Both contribute equally.

                                                                    Since it's my money, and it's an expenditure that I can chose to give or not, I'd prefer it to be distributed in the manner that I prefer - not overly weighted towards FOH. You seem to have missed the point in it's entirety.

                                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                                      and you seem to miss the point that in many places, a tip pool is illegal, and that BoH get an hourly wage that is at least minimum, if not more, while the FoH gets under $3/hr, and are taxed on not just the wage but their tips as well.
                                                                      Maybe you could open a restaurant and show everybody how it is done.

                                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                                        Tip pooling is only illegal because owners take advantage and draw their own tip from the pool. This is not the premise of what I'm suggesting. I'm suggesting that cooks and servers should be paid an equal amount, wages, tips, and all, because they contribute equally to your meal, whether you're aware of it or not.

                                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                                          Tip pooling is illegal in some jurisdictions BECAUSE a legislative body decided it should be illegal. Whether or not an owner dips in the pool cannot make tip pooling legal or illegal. It merely can cause the operation of a legal tip pool to be in violation of the law.

                                                                          Owners are not the only ones who are prohibited from sharing in a tip pool. In many jurisdictions managers are forbidden to share in the legal tip pool.

                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                            Why did a legislative body DECIDE that it should be illegal?

                                                                            1. re: justxpete

                                                                              ask your elected officials who wrote and voted on the law. Also in the USA it is possible to look at the history of a legislative bill and read speeches, committee reports, etc. and find the legislative intent. Judges often take legislative intent into consideration when ruling from the bench on either unclear matters or when trying to apply an existing law to a new technology or situation.

                                                                            2. re: bagelman01

                                                                              You didn't understand the implication so I'll be more clear - Do you know what logic they used to justify making tip pooling illegal? Is it for tax implications?

                                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                                Just......you are in Canada and have a different legal system. I am an attorney in the US and cannot pretend to know the rationale for laws in other coutries, let alone other jurisdictioons than my own.
                                                                                In my jurisdiction (Connecticut) Tip Pooling is not illegal, but is restricted to FOH service personnel, who fall under the legal 'less than minimum wage-server exemption.' The rationale, as I understand it was to preclude employees who do not get a 'legal' reduced wage from sharing in this money meant to keep service personnel at or above the 'full minimum wage.' Also, it is meant to preclude owners and those in authority (managers) from using the tip pool to take a commission or cut of a server's wages. Non-service personnel-BOH are excluded because they have the protection of the wage laws.
                                                                                Tax implications really have no place in this. In fact the state would collect far more taxes, if all tip money was collected by the establishment and distributed 'on the books.' It is very common for servers not to declare all of the cash tips they receive, but if the tips came included in payroll, the state would get a real chance to tax all the tips.

                                                                        2. re: justxpete

                                                                          am not missing the point. how you "wish" monies to be disbursed flies in the face of the in-place system.

                                                                          i have never worked anyplace that paid cooks only minimum wage, whereas as a server i have never been paid more than $2.63 per hour. i never got benefits, sick days or paid vacation, but the cooks did. my last job the server scheduling was so inept there were numerous weeks when the cooks made more than i did.

                                                                          if restaurants in your town can't attract talent at the wages they want to pay, they need to reassess that and take action. it's not the server's responsibility to subsidize the cooks.

                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                            No subsidization necessary - servers shouldn't be entitled to more money than the cooks, in my view - there's simply no justification for it. They should all be paid equally. Nothing a server does is 4-5 times more valuable than what cooks contribute.

                                                                            1. re: justxpete

                                                                              so what happens when the cooks are gone for the night and servers/bartenders still have tables lingering and can't leave for several more hours? if somebody is scheduled to work the patio but it rains? or their station is built around a 12-top that no-shows?

                                                                              as i already said, cooks choose to be cooks in the existing pay model. no one forced them behind the line.

                                                                              and lol, i don't know too many servers pulling in 5 times what cooks make on a regular basis. most are already tipping out 20-40% to support staff every shift.

                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                In the restaurants that I frequent, the cooks stay long after the servers are gone .

                                                                                Generally where I'm from, if an employee is scheduled, they have to be paid a three-hour minimum.

                                                                                As I've already stated, I don't find any value and giving all my tips to FOH - they don't deserve it disproportionately much over BOH.

                                                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                                                  "Generally where I'm from, if an employee is scheduled, they have to be paid a three-hour minimum."

                                                                                  i have never seen this enforced for foh or boh.

                                                                                  so what do you actually do? do you drop equal monies to the server and the kitchen? short the server because they already make "so much"?

                                                                                  in most places in the us servers work for tips. it's not some sort of socialist utopia.

                                                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                                                    so if the servers are all gone who is waiting on you? the cooks?

                                                                                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                    I think the truth lies between both poles. Yeah, no one "forced" most minimum wage workers to take their jobs, but it was a choice between that and letting their families starve. That argument is elitist bullshit.

                                                                                    They deserve more money, period. As I've said on another thread, insinuating that wanting a living wage is "entitlement" is an argument deserving of the guillotine. It's not only insane but cruel to think that a full time laborer doesn't deserve a wage able to support her and her family. A society that believes otherwise belongs on the ashheaps of history.

                                                                                    1. re: JonParker

                                                                                      am not equating working at wal-mart or mcdonald's to being a line cook. nor am i against living wages. however, having been on the receiving end of resentment from co-workers adds a different dimension to my feelings on this.

                                                                                      i went to culinary school and quickly realized i wouldn't be able to hack the money/hours long enough to get into any kind of livable salary range. i stayed foh. like i said: choices.

                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                        I don't think you understand the implications of what you're saying. You're saying that because cooks chose to be cooks that they should be paid what they're paid, and entitled servers that contribute very little in addition to what cooks contribute, should be paid significantly more.

                                                                                  3. re: justxpete

                                                                                    To the bottom line it is. If a good server upsells dessert or another drink... As a lifelong BOH guy, we always bitched when a server told us about a $300 night, but we also heard about the $40 day shifts as well. Is it fair in the cosmic sense? Probably not, but servers spend a third of their shift doing set up and clean up that is certainly not tipped on.

                                                                                    1. re: coolaugustmoon

                                                                                      Fair point, but typically cook shifts are much longer than server shifts. They're definitely getting the short end of the stick.

                                                                                    2. re: justxpete

                                                                                      When you own the establishment you get to decide who gets paid how much. Your opinion that servers shouldn't be paid more than cooks is absolutely meaningless, when you are not the employer.
                                                                                      Your statement that nothing a server does is 4-5 times more valuable than what cooks contribute is FAULTY logic. The establishment is NOT paying the servers 4-5 times more than they pay the cooks. The patrons make a voluntary decision to tip.

                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                        Well, yes, it's sort of a voluntary decision to tip.

                                                                                        But, when I read many of the tipping posts made by Americans (about restaurants in America), I realise that there actually isnt too much "voluntary" about it.

                                                                                        It is accepted custom that folk will tip at a certain percentage and, from my reading, I would be confident in thinking there is little variation from the social norm - even when service has been particularly bad. The fact that a server can generally rely on what they are going to earn in wages and tips over a given period is how they know they can pay their bills.

                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                          Logic is often confounded by bias.

                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                            Harters, while my norm may be 20% tip on pre tax bill, it is no means a given. I give more for better service and much less for terrible service (if fault of the server, not kitchen). And yes, I worked my way through university 40+ years ago waiting tables, so I generally can tell when it's the servers' fault/error or the kitchen's..

                                                                                            In the past week I had occasion to tip 25% twice and 10% once.
                                                                                            As to a server knowing what to expect, so they can rely on income to pay their bills: The server often does not know how many covers he/she will serve on a given evening unless working in an establishment that is reservation driven.

                                                                                            My 25 yo daughter (who serves weekends to pay for graduate school-she has a full time day job) works in a volume place that takes no reservations. Most weekends she makes great money, but last weekend was great beach weather and the place was very empty. Her earnings didn't cover much more than commuting and parking cost and her mid shift meal. The week before, she averaged more than $40 per hour. One
                                                                                            Saturday night she had a table of 30 somethings celebrating. They drank a great deal and lost track of the cost. The average drink was $12, the bill for 4 people was almost $400. They said to her that they didn't realize how much they spent and gave her a $40 tip, saying that's what they had left. A 'normal' tip would have been $75-80. They occupied the table for about three hours, which would have been about 2 1/2 turns by other diners.

                                                                                            1. re: bagelman01


                                                                                              I agree that a server may not know how much s/he will earn on a given evening. But, over the period of time during which s/he has to pay household bills, etc, they know they are getting an acceptable income. This is a basic "given" of any employment situation and it is pretty much irrelevent whether the server works in a tipping or non-tipping culture. If someone has acceptable income from their job they are likely to continue doing it. If not, they are likely to look for another job.

                                                                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                            I don't agree with you at all. It's money that I've voluntarily surrendering - if I wished to do so, I could decide exactly how it was distributed, if it wasn't such a task for managers and/or owners to deal with it - but I don't want to inconvenience them and make it more of a chore than a boon.

                                                                                            It's not faulty logic, and it makes perfect sense. I'm speaking from the perspective of a diner, not an owner. But the same truth would apply.

                                                                                            If I was to give your daughter a 7.5 tip, and the other half to the kitchen (adjusting for hourly wage), what would be her reaction?

                                                                                            1. re: justxpete

                                                                                              What is any (North American) server's reaction to a 7.5% tip?

                                                                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                Read Bagelman's last comment for context.

                                                                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                  bm's daughter works in the states so is only being paid about $3 per hour. how will you "adjust accordingly" since the boh is making at least $10?

                                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                    Do you know how percentages work?

                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                      She's making $5/hr. We know a lot about her.

                                                                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                                                                  If a diner gave my daughter a 7.5% gratuity, an amount that is about 1/3 of the typical gratuity, my daughter would be asking herself "what did I do wrong to offend the diner?" She wouldn't be saying the diner who left 7.5% is a cheap b*stard. And what would be her reaction to the fact that you left the same amount for the kitchen staff? She should have no reaction, as it is none of her business what money is given to others.

                                                                                                  As to the faulty logic...a cook prepares food to fill orders. The server is the salesperson, if the server doesn't sell, the food sits and rots in the kitchen. This is different from cafeteria and buffet type restaurants where the servers don't sell, then the value of the cook is higher than the person delivering plates, setting tables and refiulling beverages.

                                                                                                  BTW>>>daughter works in Fairfield County, Connecticut. The servers in her establishment get $5 per hour plus tips. BOH>>>dishwashers get $10 per hour, food prep assistants start at $13.50, fry and salad cooks start at $15 and cooks get a minimum of $23 per hour. This establishment has no 'chefs' the food is bistro/bar food: Wraps, burgers, wings, salads, fried foods. Nothing is made from scratch in the place. The owners operate 5 places and have a central commissary. A semi-intelligent person could be trained to work any of these positions in 2-3 days.

                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                    A minimum of $23 per hour??? That is good!

                                                                                                    If there's no cook, no food is delivered. It's a symbiotic relationship with no one part offering any advantage over the other. They are equal partners.

                                                                                                    And are you implying that you think it takes longer than 2-3 days to "learn" how to become a server? And that the person must be more than "semi-intelligent"?

                                                                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                      I am stating, not implying that it takes more than 2-3 days to learn how to become a COMPETENT server, and yes the person must be more than semi intelligent. For many years, servers started as buspersons or runners before moving up to server. It is not unusual for a new hire server to spend up to a week's worth of shifts shadowing an experienced server before being allowed to have his/her own station and take orders, sell specials and deliver food.
                                                                                                      The required level of intelligence varies with the type of restaurant. Is it an involved menu, the server must learn. Is it casual or fancy service? Does the server make salads or drinks? Is there a POS system. Does the server need good math skills and is required to carry their own bank/make change, etc.?
                                                                                                      Aforementioned daughter has served through college and worked on cruise ships as a server. Even with years of experience, when she started at the new place, she was required to shadow an established server for 4 evenings before being allowed to serve. She also had to take a 3 hour class on the menu and 4 hours on the bar. She is required to maintain her own bank and settle bills. Math skills are important. Sales goals are set in the pre-service meetings. When a new menu is set to debut there are mandatory advance menus and trainings.
                                                                                                      This is a far cry from the old days when a server was given a pad and pencil and told to go take orders in a cafe.

                                                                                                      As to your comment on $23 per hour being good. It's relative. In the city where this establishment is it would take a $23/hr line cook 2-2/12 weeks pay to rent a modest apartment. And as to the comment that when there's no cook, no food is delivered, it isn't really so in casual bar/restos. The kitchen officially closes at midnight, but if a table has been drinking for the evening and wants something at 12:30 servers often will go into the kitchen and make wraps, burgers or salads. They don't operate the fryolator or stove, so the customer will get potato chips with the plate, not French Fries, etc.

                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                        Your knowledge from your daughter meshes with my knowledge as a customer. So yes, this.

                                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                          You're grossly over estimating the amount of intelligence and effort required to be a server. Most servers don't deal with math anymore because everything's electronic - nor does it require a great amount of intelligence to be able to do basic addition and subtraction when necessary. Cooks and servers are equal jobs - neither requires a significant amount of intelligence than the other, and in the majority of establishments (I'm not referring to fast food, and bars) cooks require more skill to be a good cook than a server does to be a good server. And it scales as well. Lower end restaurants require less skill from both, and higher end restaurants require more skill and knowledge from both - but most places will require a cook to have education before they will hire them with no experience, while the same isn't usually said for servers - they don't require an education to be hired with no experience. Often just a pretty or handsome smile will do. I've both managed restaurants, worked as a server and bartender, and generally been active in the industry for a long, long time, and here, these are the things I've witnessed first hand - but every market is different. However, I'm not the only one who has brought up this issue, it's industry-wide knowledge. Cooks don't make squat, and it's becoming an issue - hence why I'm surprised that they seem to make a fair amount of money at this establishment your daughter works in - that isn't the norm. They typically work long hours for little more than minimum wage. It's really industry-wide knowledge, so I'm a bit surprised that you, whom are supposed to be food hounds, aren't aware?

                                                                                                          For your reading pleasure:

                                                                                                          Getting back to the point of this thread, you said yourself in the other thread that your daughter averages $200 for a 5-hour shift - $40/hour. The reason for this thread was because of the discrepancy in value. Your daughter, or any server in her restaurant, to me, as a patron, does still not offer 2x what the cooks contribute (using $23/hour as a maximum, and averaging out).

                                                                                                          Some of your numbers give us some geographical context, but when you say the minimum a cook will make is $23/hour, do you mean maximum? I find it hard to believe that, from what you're describing, a low end chain of restaurants would be paying their line cooks a minimum of $23/hour. Also, how did you come by the these numbers? Is your daughter a manager as well, or did the owner voluntarily surrender these numbers? Usually a business will not regularly give up this information, even to its employees.

                                                                                                          And I suppose it's great that your daughter can make wraps and chips, but that's not really relavent. That's not all that goes in to making, preparing and storing food, and it's not as if she could do it on her own if there were no cooks in the restaurant at all, while serving as well, and keeping stock and inventory and cooking at proper temperatures and everything else - so without cooks, there's no food. A chef friend of mine serves me alcohol occasionally after his servers have left, but I still would not contend that it's not a symbiotic relationship just because each can do some of the others' job. Each needs the other.

                                                                                                      2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                        Thank you. It's very useful to have concrete numbers in these discussions about tipping and wages. Even if they only represent one establishment or one server's experience. I think that what they show is that there is huge variation across restaurants at almost every level, so it is not safe to make sweeping assumptions when walking into a restaurant about who gets paid what, how much BOH staff earns in relation to FOH, etc.

                                                                                                        Given the OP's opinions about the relative value of food preparation vs. service, and his assumptions about FOH vs. BOH earnings, his conclusions about how tips should be distributed are valid _for him_ . In fact he should really stop tipping his servers altogether and send all his tips to the kitchen to attack the assumed pay discrepancy as effectively as possible. But anyone who is reluctant to accept his assumptions about FOH/BOH pay imbalance (for lack of evidence) or who doesn't share his opinions (just because) will rightly reject his conclusions and will just continue tipping as before. But thanks to the OP, everyone in this thread has maybe thought about their own tipping behavior and our tipping system a little bit more, and that is always useful.

                                                                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                          I wouldn't give much weight to those numbers - it's common knowledge that cooks work for very low pay. I invite you to read the links in my post above.

                                                                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                            I'm not sure if I read all of your links, but the only one that gave an explicit comparison of servers' vs. cooks' pay was the one about San Francisco, which for various reasons may not be representative of the North American restaurant industry. Servers have it particularly good in SF, with favorable minimum wage and benefits laws, no tip credit for employers, and generous tips from diners.

                                                                                                            I don't think anyone is going to argue with you that cooks work too hard and are paid too little. What is as issue here is whether they really make 2-5 times less than servers, as you claim. I invite you to read what the Occupational Outlook Handbook says:

                                                                                                            "The median hourly wage of cooks was $9.74 in May 2010."

                                                                                                            "The median hourly wage (including tips) of waiters and waitresses was $8.81 in May 2010."

                                                                                                            This is for the US. If you dig around on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site, you may find more recent statistics. And I imagine there is a similar agency in Canada.

                                                                                                            The median hourly wage for all occupations that year was $16.27, so the take-home message is that cooks and servers are both poorly paid, with cooks making somewhat more than servers, especially taking the number of hours into account. If servers had to give half their tips to the BOH as you are suggesting, the pay imbalance (again, in favor of cooks, not servers) would be exacerbated. If your goal is for cooks and servers to be paid about the same, you don't need to do anything: they already are. Actually, maybe you could tip your servers a little more. If your goal is for cooks to be paid more, I am totally with you, but the money has to come out of owners' and customers' pockets, not from some imaginary overpaid servers doing nothing of much worth in the front of the house.

                                                                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                              It's easily 2-5 times, via many references. Just do some research, don't take my word for it. Even our friend Bagleman here says his daughter, who seemingly works in a lower-end restaurant that serves wraps made by serving staff, makes $40 on average. If cooks are making an average of $10-12 an hour (which they typically are), than that's in the range of 3-4 times their wage.

                                                                                                              I don't think you can use a government publication to source servers' minimum wage because tips are vastly under-reported.

                                                                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                i hate to break it to you, but nearly all restaurant transactions are electronic these days. tips can no longer be "underreported". they are entered into the pos when the check gets closed, and that's how the restaurant knows how much to pay the server each end-of-shift. or in a paycheck, which more and more restaurants are moving towards.

                                                                                                                this tax-skirting is a myth that needs to be buried in the past.

                                                                                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                  First you say not to give much weight to bagelman01's numbers, because they don't represent the norm. But now I see that this dismissal only applies to the numbers that don't serve your purposes. His daughter averages $40/hr, and that works for you, so let's just assume all servers make that much, right?

                                                                                                                  Someone should definitely call up the government and tell them that people under-report their tips. It is very likely that they are completely unaware of this and fail to take it into account in their published statistics.

                                                                                                      3. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                        i also don't see any restaurant owners in my state racing to pay servers more than the state mandated $2.63 per hour. they support the inequity and status quo because it saves them payroll money.

                                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                          In Ontario, servers make $8.90 an hour. Minimum wage (which most cooks make) is $10.25.

                                                                                                          Servers tip out the kitchen in some places, but they still end up making 2-5 times more than BOH.

                                                                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                            you're suggesting that "most" servers in ontario are walking with over $300 a night? sorry, but i find that very difficult to believe. never mind that i have rarely gotten more than a 10% tip from a canadian.

                                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                              No, your math is way off. Try again. I'm talking about on a per-hour basis.

                                                                                                              You don't make more than $20 an hour as a server?

                                                                                                              Tip range in all over Canada is typically 15-22 percent. If you're only getting 10% tips from Canadians, your service isn't up to par.

                                                                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                lol, ask any of my server friends. nobody wants to wait on canucks because of this. maybe they tip less away from home?

                                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                  I actually tip much more generously - usually 25 percent. Sometimes 33 percent or more. A few times 100% - so your friends are missing out. Perhaps is their pre-conceived notions that affect their tips - a self-fulfilling prophecy?

                                                                                                                  And they probably pay less tax while abroad (in most places) - so they're probably more willing to tip better as the check averages are lower.

                                                                                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                    no. you're right. myself and everybody i have ever worked with are just terrible servers.

                                                                                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                  "You don't make more than $20 an hour as a server?"

                                                                                                                  you said 2-5 x boh pay. if cooks are making $10.25 but servers make 5x that? over 6 hours? how is my math off?

                                                                                                                3. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                  No, I said that servers are making anywhere from 2-5 times more than boh. 2-5x means 2-5 times. Which means you take your $10.25 minimum wage and multiply it by 2 and then by 5, and then you'll have your range of what servers generally make, depending on the night.

                                                                                                                4. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                  the next wage dodge will be refusal of offering health care. the mandate is months away and employers are already only taking on p/t workers or simply preparing to pay into the unfunded pool because it will be cheaper than paying for insurance.

                                                                                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                    I don't know where you're getting your numbers, which are different in every message: "200%-300% more per hour", "4-5 times more", and now "2-5 times more". I understand that these are just approximations, but you'll sound more convincing if you pick a conservative estimate and stick with it. All you care about is the inequality, right? So a server making 2 times more than a cook is already unacceptable, right?

                                                                                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                      Gar. I erased my post by accident.

                                                                                                                      But you're 100 percent correct - I should just pick a number and stick with it - but there is a lot of factors, and the numbers change based on the nature of the establishment. Some places pool money, some places pay their cooks better than minimum wage, some places don't have tip-out to the cooks, etc. So I guess I was referencing different places in my mind without fully explaining it within the context. My apologies.

                                                                                                                      And I really had no idea that some servers in the US make $2.50 an hour or less - but I'm willing to bet they still make a lot more than boh?

                                                                                                                      1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                        myself and numerous others have posted plenty of times that servers in most states make less than $3 an hour. i also stated that in my last job i had plenty of weeks in the summer where i took home less than the cooks. overall 2012 was one of least amounts of money i have ever made in my life because management was so stoopid. and yes, am quite sure most of the cooks made more than i did for the year. and also got paid vacation, sick days and health insurance subsidies.

                                                                                                                        i hope to never work in a restaurant ever again.

                                                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                          I'm highly skeptical - but now just imagine if you were all paid the same amount - you would have had a much better year, and would have nothing to complain about. IMO, servers and cooks should all be paid the same, and have the same benefits and entitlements. There should be no discrepancy.

                                                                                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                            highly skeptical of what?

                                                                                                                            the reason i was willing to work for tips was the potential to make more than i might have at some crappy $15 hr job. in my previous 2 years there, i did quite well. management changed over and it all went to hell.

                                                                                                                            as to your aspersion about my capabilities, i was consistently on the high end for gratuities vs other servers, but we were so badly overstaffed it was all for naught. so if 10 of us were splitting our tips with the boh instead of 2 of us i don't see your scenario being much of a win either.

                                                                                                                            1. re: justxpete


                                                                                                                              May I ask a question about the Canadian experience?

                                                                                                                              I know that servers can be paid less than minimum wage in your country, as is the situation in America. I also know that, in America, one of the often mentioned issues is that restaurant employers do not pay for servers health care. Now, I also know that Canada has a generally publiclly funded health service, as we do in the UK.

                                                                                                                              So, my question is how do the underpaid servers (those getting paid less than minimum wage) pay for their access to the health system? Is it just the simple case that, as citizens, they have access, as would be the case here? Trying to understand but I can never get my head round the concept that minimum wage isnt always minimum wage.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                The servers are only paid $1.30 or so less than minimum wage in Ontario, but I can't speak for the rest of Canada.

                                                                                                                                And yes, it's the same as there. Here, we have access to Health Care just because you're a citizen. You only need a health card (which is free). You don't have to rally for or buy or justify anything, they just do what's required to get you healthy again. We don't argue with insurance or anything of that nature.

                                                                                                    2. re: justxpete

                                                                                                      I suspect it may well do. Either system supports a team approach, including FoH service. Although I've never worked in the hospitality industry, I have worked in organisations which had a team approach and others which did not. I would take the view that I certainly enjoyed more working in the team places and felt my contribution was better valued.

                                                                                                      It is, of course, difficult to generalise but I would reckon that folk are prepared to contribute more if they feel their employer values the contribution.

                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                        having worked in pooled and non-pooled houses, it really is a question of management. if you feel valued and the mgr stresses the team aspect, it often works just fine to be non-pooled while others happily pitch in when needed. if you have the more-likely scenario of useless, apathetic managers? ennui trickles down and it's every man/women for him/herself.

                                                                                                        all these years and i can count on less than one hand the truly spectacular gm's for whom i've had the pleasure to work.

                                                                                                  2. Folks, this thread is getting predictably testy. Please make a particular effort to focus your comments on the issue, and not on your fellow hounds.

                                                                                                    1. I've got to be honest, I've read this post almost every day since it has been placed, and I've read a good portion of the responses.

                                                                                                      All I can really say is this hurts my head. I don't get it.....I mean I have read the words, I understand what is being said, I just don't "get it".

                                                                                                      To me it's one of those things......it ain't broke so why are we trying to fix it? I can think of a million reason's why you shouldn't have to tip the back of the house. I don't understand why the OP feels the need to? They are different job's....car sales people are paid a commission, should the guy on the assembly line? Tipping is more or less a commission.....just paid by the consumer rather than the employer....but regardless of that as I said, this just makes my head hurt.

                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                        Ah, there's the difference though. Sales commission (or bonus) is very different from tipping. One is recognition by the employer of the sales made and, therefore, profit gained for the employer. The other is, in theory, an additional payment made by the customer for service received.

                                                                                                        I doubt whether anyone would consider tipping the car sales person for being pleasant and helpful, taking your order and all the associated matters concerned with buying a car.

                                                                                                        I think the idea of servers being paid a bonus on sales, instead of an old-fashioned tip is a great one. It's effectively what is happening when a service charge is levied (as happens in many restaurants where I am) or an "auto gratuity" is levied on large parties in America.

                                                                                                        By the by, one of the large department store chains and supermarket business where I am in the world is, in essence, a co-operative. All employees receive an annual bonus based on distributing the profits that, in a traditional company, would have been paid in shareholder dividends. Everyone in the company, from highest paid manager to lowest paid cleaner gets the same percentage bonus - of course the actual amount they receive differs as salaries are different. The concept has been working very successfully since the 1920s.

                                                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                          Because - there's no justification in my mind for my the money that I'm voluntarily surrendering to go disproportionately to the servers. It's not fair. They don't do anything that's so amazingly, astonishingly helpful that would warrant to make so much more than people that typically work much harder than them, for longer hours, and lower pay.

                                                                                                          People tend to take issue with things that don't make sense to them - for me, this is one of them.

                                                                                                          But I'm not the only one that feels this way, there are lots of others - if you don't understand or appreciate, or have made any kind of effort to understand how rough line cooks have it, then I can appreciate how you might not understand. And yes, sure, other jobs have it rough and what not, but this is *MY* money that I'm *voluntarily* surrendering - so why shouldn't I be able to decide where it goes?

                                                                                                          The problem is that I don't have an easy solution as yet.

                                                                                                          "Chef Keller found that he was loosing some of his kitchen talent to the front of the house or other jobs simply because of the wage difference once tips were added into the wages for servers. I see the same problem in many other restaurants including my own."

                                                                                                          But, by far, I'm not the only one tht feels this way. Most with knowledge of the industry suggest that the Per Se way, or European model, is best. And I agree.

                                                                                                          Food for thought:


                                                                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                            But you do get to decide! All you have to do is give money to the back of the house. No one is preventing you from doing that. Sure, there isn't a well defined system for doing this like there is for your server, but handing money to a manager, or leaving an envelope filled with a bunch of small bills with a note that it is to be evenly distributed to the kitchen staff because you appreciate their hard work is much, much easier than trying to convince the world that servers deserve less tip money and the kitchen deserves more.

                                                                                                            It is your money, so do with it what you want. Stiff the server and instead give it all to the kitchen (or some percentage in between). On the other hand, if you find the conditions to be so horrendous, simply don't support the restaurant industry with your money that you are voluntarily surrendering.

                                                                                                            Don't get me wrong, I'm aware of how long and difficult the hours can be and how the pay is far from great for the majority of people, but I think there are a plethora of other professions and jobs where the pay and working conditions and/or educational qualifications don't match.

                                                                                                            1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                              Have you read any of the thread at all? I feel like a broken record - it's just not that simple and I wish people would make an effort to read the thread before commenting.

                                                                                                                1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                  Then read it again. What points were brought up that make it difficult to just hand the manager cash for BOH?

                                                                                                                  And I don't want to stiff FOH by any means - I just want to be able to split my tip evenly.

                                                                                                                  Take some time and read some of the links that I posted - I'm not the only one that knows that this is a significant issue in the industry - and part of being involved in it, other than OTHER INDUSTRIES that I'm not a part of, is trying to help fix it's inadequacies - so it's not as simple as just dismissing everything that's involved just because there are other hardships in other industries. And my mistake, but I thought this was a forum for discussing "NOT ABOUT FOOD" Topics that involve the industry. Have I posted in the wrong place?

                                                                                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                    As I state in my first post, ' I'm aware of how long and difficult the hours can be and how the pay is far from great for the majority of people'.

                                                                                                                    Furthermore, as others have pointed out, one of the examples you provide is in SF, which is far from representative of the service industry in the vast majority of the US. The example of Bagelman's daughter making 2x that of the kitchen is great, but in my experience while working in restaurants/bars, most servers don't make that much per hour/night. That's largely because the majority of the US is not a large city where there is mid to fine dining and average checks are $100+. In smaller cities and rural areas the average check sizes are much smaller and thus so are server's tips. I know people that have worked an 8 hour shift and if they walk out with $100 bucks it is a huge deal. Whatever, not a big deal, everything varies by location, but I think it is misleading to reference examples from places where the cost of living and dining experience is higher than most of the country. I think the dept of labor stats likely do a much better job of taking into account the general population, even if it is slightly off due to the underreporting of tips.

                                                                                                                    I still do not understand what is preventing you from giving money to the back of the house. I've seen it done. I've seen the kitchen get the money that someone left. I've read about other examples here. I've known people that got a tip at the end of their long, hard shift on the line. I've known people who have had beer bought for them. It happens. Is it as easy as leaving $20 on your table for your server? No, but it is still doable. You clearly feel passionately about this, which is wonderful, but I just don't see why you dont' take the extra 2 min effort to then give some cash to the back? If the host or management or whoever gives you troubles, then don't go back. If the owner is that much of a jerk that they are going to prevent you from tipping their staff, they honestly do not deserve yours (or anyone's) business.

                                                                                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                  your frustration is showing. :) simply because most here disagree with your premise doesn't mean they lack understanding.

                                                                                                          2. At this point, we feel like this thread is just going in circles, so we're going to lock it now.