Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:46 pm

In my case the protest is that I almost never eat out at non-BYO places, and in those rare cases when I do I will not pay restaurant blood money on wine.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:33 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:I will not pay restaurant blood money on wine.

I feel your pain, but bear in mind that restaurants operate on very tight margins and argue that they need to profit well on alcohol in order to make the numbers work overall.

Of course, this raises the question of how BYO joints make their numbers work ... :?
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby wnissen » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:37 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:
Kelly Young wrote:Tip on the tab regardless of what it is compromised of.


That's right.

We're all big boys and girls, and we know going in how restaurant bottle pricing works. Complain about markup all you want, but don't make the servers the target of your protest.

PS: Wnissen, somehow I don't think it is up to the diner to decide the value of the inputs that went into what was ordered.


If the diner is not to judge, what's the point of having the diner decide at all? Why not just slap a service charge on there and be done with it?

The fact is that restaurant owners have abdicated their responsibility to compensate their staff as professionals, turning all of us diners into employers in miniature, with the responsibility to provide staff compensation. I take this responsibility seriously. I also am not blind to the fact that servers rarely provide any additional service when I select a wine that costs a multiple of the cheapest bottle. At my favorite restaurant, the wines are paired by the half-glass with dishes, and I happily tip 30%, because that service is worth every penny! Darn right right I can tell the difference and decide accordingly!
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:44 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:I will not pay restaurant blood money on wine.

I feel your pain, but bear in mind that restaurants operate on very tight margins and argue that they need to profit well on alcohol in order to make the numbers work overall.

Of course, this raises the question of how BYO joints make their numbers work ... :?


The problem is that 95-98% of restaurant food can be done as well or nearly as well at home, for half the cost & wine out of the cellar. Unless it's BYO or a cuisine that I don't cook, I really see no point in going out.

As for making the business model work, the restaurants in Jersey seem to do ok, and there's a ton of BYOs. Yes they close from time to time (ok - more often than that, but so do restaunrants with licenses. Laura and I have been visiting Beth Sheligo in southern Jersey for over 10 years now (thank you old WLDG!!!), and many of the same BYOs are still going strong.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Rahsaan » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:06 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:As for making the business model work, the restaurants in Jersey seem to do ok, and there's a ton of BYOs. Yes they close from time to time (ok - more often than that, but so do restaunrants with licenses. Laura and I have been visiting Beth Sheligo in southern Jersey for over 10 years now (thank you old WLDG!!!), and many of the same BYOs are still going strong.


I'm sure rent is one big cost that can vary a lot (even within cities depending on when the restaurant negotiated terms) and shape the willingness of a restaurant to allow BYO.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:22 pm

Dave Hi....

If I tip 10-15% on a bottle of $300 dollar wine as opposed to 20% on the food bill do you truly believe the waitstaff is "suffering"?

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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:22 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:As for making the business model work, the restaurants in Jersey seem to do ok, and there's a ton of BYOs. Yes they close from time to time (ok - more often than that, but so do restaunrants with licenses. Laura and I have been visiting Beth Sheligo in southern Jersey for over 10 years now (thank you old WLDG!!!), and many of the same BYOs are still going strong.


I'm sure rent is one big cost that can vary a lot (even within cities depending on when the restaurant negotiated terms) and shape the willingness of a restaurant to allow BYO.


Actually in Jersey there are few licensed places, as the cost of a license is prohibitive for all but well-financed or chain type restaurants. BYO is very, very common.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Neil Courtney » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:45 pm

Mark Kogos wrote:
Neil Courtney wrote:
Redwinger wrote:Neil-
In NZ is "service" included in the bill similar to most of Europe or is the tab built on the American model of a gratuity added by the customer?
'Winger


In general there is no tipping for anything here in NZ. Unfortunately, it is creeping into some areas, probably because of tourists who tip anyway. We have what is called a Minimum Wage here, of only $NZ12.50/hour, but any trainee wait person will start on this pay scale, so we do not have waiters that need to get tips to survive. We do have the markup problem as well which is why we will generally not go to a restaurant that does not allow BYOW. Even a 'corkage' charge of $20 a bottle can look like good value when you see some of the wine list prices. Generally corkage runs at around $5 per person. Or should that be 'screwage' now?


Neil

I definitely don't agree with that view on tipping in New Zealand. Almost to a man everyone I know who eats out in NZ tips on average 10%. If you are not tipping at all and going back to the same restaurants, you might want to check what they put in your food because you will not be popular. No one can live on $12.50 an hour!!!

Mark


Mark, yes I agree that $12.50 is not great but that is only the starting point. Most wait staff would be getting more than that. We don't eat out too much at all these days. Can not afford to, so we don't have a 'local' where they would recognise our faces.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby AlexR » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:48 pm

I am probably in a minority here, but this is the way I see it.

First of all, "when in Rome"...
In France, service is included. Period. If you want to leave a little something, fine. But at least half the population doesn't.
Question more or less settled.

The theory behind tipping is that it promotes good service.
However, I'm not at all convinced that this is true.
There are people who make their living waiting tables, not just college students and out-of-work actors.
They earn a decent wage and there's no need to add anything to their salary.

The States? Hmmm. If I were on my own, I probably would leave 15% (and not 20%) on the food, but not on the wine.
If, on the other hand, I were paying for a friend, I would probably follow the majority drift on this thread and ante up.
BUT, not without thinking that I had been seriously gyped by the restaurateur.
He buys at *wholesale* prices, and sells at double or triple *retail* prices.
That's clearly enough money for him in my book, and tipping on top of that seems very much like a racket to me.

The costs of providing glasses and printing a wine list on a word processor do NOT provide sufficient excuse for
a tip on top of the atrocious mark-up in my most humble opinion.

Best regards,
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Mark Kogos » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:42 pm

Neil Courtney wrote:
Mark Kogos wrote:
Neil Courtney wrote: In general there is no tipping for anything here in NZ. Unfortunately, it is creeping into some areas, probably because of tourists who tip anyway. We have what is called a Minimum Wage here, of only $NZ12.50/hour, but any trainee wait person will start on this pay scale, so we do not have waiters that need to get tips to survive. We do have the markup problem as well which is why we will generally not go to a restaurant that does not allow BYOW. Even a 'corkage' charge of $20 a bottle can look like good value when you see some of the wine list prices. Generally corkage runs at around $5 per person. Or should that be 'screwage' now?


Neil

I definitely don't agree with that view on tipping in New Zealand. Almost to a man everyone I know who eats out in NZ tips on average 10%. If you are not tipping at all and going back to the same restaurants, you might want to check what they put in your food because you will not be popular. No one can live on $12.50 an hour!!!

Mark


Mark, yes I agree that $12.50 is not great but that is only the starting point. Most wait staff would be getting more than that. We don't eat out too much at all these days. Can not afford to, so we don't have a 'local' where they would recognise our faces.


Neil

I do think it unfair on the waiters not to tip if they have given you good service and really urge you to reconsider your approach on this topic. Sure if the service has been rude or just downright lousy then stiff the waiter but if the guy works his butt of then a 10% tip is the norm in Auckland IMO. At the end of the day you get what you pay for: if you want decent service by experienced waiters then help them earn a decent livable wage. Otherwise the industry will be dominated by people who can't find work elsewhere and have no intention of providing a quality service.

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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:49 pm

Alex,
I'm not a fan of restaurant wine pricing. But in fairness in NY for instance beyond actual cost per bottle, a restaurant owner often:
1) has premium real estate, high taxes, etc
2) has to pay for a liquor license, which isn't cheap and usually involves lawyers (and sometimes expensive community board action)
3) much higher rate of returns/rejects than retail
4)stemware, dishwashing, etc

Doesn't mean I like paying it, but the fact that 2X retail is about the lowest you see leads me to think 1.5 on a regular basis isn't financially possible -SOMEONE would do it (some do for some wines, but not entire list)

Indeed. "when in Rome." You (or I) might not like system, but it is the system here, and stiffing the waitstaff because you think the owner is profiteering seems unfair.

David,
I'm too poor to drink well off restaurant lists often, but I find that places like Kittle House and Convivio give great wine service.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Covert » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:57 pm

I would say a person should tip exactly what he or she feels comfortable with. After you walk out of the restaurant all the residual effect of your decision will fade away. If you tip more than you want to, you will carry a feeling of being fleeced. If less, you will suffer guilt. What the waiter thinks will have no relevance. Everything is perception: yours.

Anybody who likes to observe prevailing etiquette rather than follow a personal preference can look the matter up in etiquette guides. In my circle, which includes cultured people, 20% is considered to be normal, so I'll bet that is proper etiquette. I tip 20%.

If the bottle costs a ton, I would figure the purchaser can afford a ton on the tip, too.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby R Cabrera » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:59 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Alex,
I'm not a fan of restaurant wine pricing. But in fairness in NY for instance beyond actual cost per bottle, a restaurant owner often:
1) has premium real estate, high taxes, etc
2) has to pay for a liquor license, which isn't cheap and usually involves lawyers (and sometimes expensive community board action)
3) much higher rate of returns/rejects than retail
4)stemware, dishwashing, etc


I suppose the "physical space" costs of storing wines is already part of your 1) above, in addition, there is the opportunity costs of holding on to many bottles/cases of wines that's in inventory. Btw, these costs are not available to those without liquor licences.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:03 pm

Twp reminders

- as far as the wait-staff is concerned there is no more effort involved in opening and serving a bottle of wine that costs $500 than is involved in one costing $30.

-the restaurant's direct and indirect expenses should play no role whatever in tipping procedure.

Best
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Sam Platt » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:47 pm

I rarely buy expensive wines in restaurants, opting for BYO when allowed. The one time that we did buy expensive wines ($150 per bottle by my frugal upbringing) in a restaurant the service was abysmal - out of red wine glasses, no decanter, absurdly large pours, etc. As a group we decided to tip 10% on the $600+ worth of wines. A member of our party explained it to the manager on the way out. He accepted it without complaint and apologized for the poor service.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Neil Courtney » Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:56 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Twp reminders

- as far as the wait-staff is concerned there is no more effort involved in opening and serving a bottle of wine that costs $500 than is involved in one costing $30.

-the restaurant's direct and indirect expenses should play no role whatever in tipping procedure.

Best
Rogov


Quite agree. A businesses costs will include building, food, beverage, staff, insurance, etc. etc. etc. These are all taken into account in the business plan set up before it is even operational. If no business plan, then they deserve to go broke.

The tips, if any, should then go to the staff, in total. If the chef gets a good wage then they would not get anything. But if the front of house staff, from the reception person who does the meet-and-greet, the waiter, the somnellier, the bar person, should all share in the tips for the evening. But how many whould do this? Maybe the person that clears the table picks up the tip and pockets it themselves? So the somnellier who when above and beyond when they explained what $500 bottle of wine would match which course, and made the sale, might not see much of the tip, if any.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:10 pm

I have to point out that in most places up here a certain % of the servers total/final ring out goes to management, bartender and kitchen etc. I am sure this applies to many US establishments also.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Joy Lindholm » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:46 pm

As a wine professional in the restaurant industry, I am quite surprised to see so much complaining and argument about this subject. When one dines out, they are not paying just for food or wine, they are paying for an experience. You choose a restaurant based on the ambiance, the type and quality of the food, the pricing, the service and the wine list, to fit a particular occasion. Everyone goes into the meal knowing that they will be paying more than what it would cost to eat and drink at home. And I won't argue that most restaurants can't come close to the quality of food prepared from scratch at home. But in the case of a fine dining establishment (like one where I am employed), much more thought and care has generally gone into the menu and wine list, and the service should match the level of the food and beverage served. There is no excuse for poor service. But there is also no excuse for stingy guests when it comes to tipping. Guests are aware before they walk in that they are paying a markup for food and beverages. Please don't gripe about the fact that you will pay more (generally 2x retail) for wine; it's not like that is a surprise to anyone. If a restaurant grossly overcharges beyond that point, then take your business elsewhere, to places that truly give value for what you are purchasing. Remember, no one is forcing you to purchase a wine that you think is overpriced.

Don't assume that your servers make a great wage. I am in one of those states where we are at $2.13 min. wage for waitstaff. Take into account the long hours on your feet, usually no benefits or paid vacation, and being at the mercy of guests' generosity or lack thereof. Hopefully most will make a living wage, but there is no guarantee.

Bottom line - if you are going to dine out, enjoy yourself and don't complain. Make the experience pleasurable and beneficial to all around you, including the waitstaff. And if you can't leave your attitude about wine/food markups at the door, then please do everyone a favor and stay home.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:54 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:- as far as the wait-staff is concerned there is no more effort involved in opening and serving a bottle of wine that costs $500 than is involved in one costing $30.

that's true for the most part. And the reason I said I'd not cry over the waitstaff being tipped 10% on a $500 bottle (even if I don't know that I'd do myself). There is of course little difference between bringing out the chicken breast and the steak with truffles. But in a system where the convention is a percentage of price, it's not that relevant. You know, in France the service is included by law, but it is also broken down (15%) on the bill. So if you order expensive bottle, you pay more for service. Exactly like the norm in US.

-the restaurant's direct and indirect expenses should play no role whatever in tipping procedure.


Agreed. But my examples were in answer to the complaints about wine pricing, a little sidetrack on this thread. Again, I'm not saying I like restaurant wine pricing, but for instance in a city of 20000+ restaurants (I'm guessing 1000 to 2000 with real wine lists), you'd think if pricing at 50% above retail was viable SOMEONE would have done it, and earned themselves a devoted following.

Bob, while it is common in US to pool tips and include front of the house, busboys, etc (usually on some formula), I believe management is not allowed to take a percentage (other than costs, like credit card fees). There have been some high profile lawsuits

Sam, I think you acted entirely properly in that situation. You didn't totally stiff staff, but make your disappointment clear and let management know.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Covert » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:58 pm

Joy Patton wrote:As a wine professional in the restaurant industry, I am quite surprised to see so much complaining and argument about this subject. When one dines out, they are not paying just for food or wine, they are paying for an experience.


Joy, I like your attitude and altitude. I might also add that one can find value in taking a gonzo approach to the aggrandizement and grandeur of the total experience by giving pleasure to the wait staff so that they might in turn turn it up in an upward spiral. Tipping more than expected can add a delight element to the staff much the same as the diner finding a wine to be more appealing than he or she thought. I think you can tastefully communicate that you are going to tip handsomely from the beginning. When you only consider yourself to be a customer and the restaurant a vendor, it makes for a pretty sterile situation.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Dave Erickson » Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:47 pm

wnissen wrote:The fact is that restaurant owners have abdicated their responsibility to compensate their staff as professionals, turning all of us diners into employers in miniature, with the responsibility to provide staff compensation. I take this responsibility seriously. I also am not blind to the fact that servers rarely provide any additional service when I select a wine that costs a multiple of the cheapest bottle. At my favorite restaurant, the wines are paired by the half-glass with dishes, and I happily tip 30%, because that service is worth every penny! Darn right right I can tell the difference and decide accordingly!


I'm not talking about service, and neither were you. You were talking about your estimate of what it cost to prepare a dish.
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby AlexR » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:27 am

Joy,

You wrote:

"Everyone goes into the meal knowing that they will be paying more than what it would cost to eat and drink at home".

Ture enough, but the difference is that I go out to a restaurant for an experience that I cannot have at home.
That is why, for instance, enjoying dish in a sauce that takes time to prepare, presumably by someone who can do it better than me, is a real pleasure.
On the other hand, simply uncorking the same (expletive deleted) bottle of wine that I have at home and charging me three times the price and THEN expecting a tip sticks understandably in my craw.
How can you hope to defend such a practice?

That the wine should be more expensive in a restaurant for some of the reasons Dale cited above is understandable.
But the *extent* to which restaurants (seems to me, by the way, that the better ones are the worst offenders) fleece their customers is what makes people upset with restaurateurs who are, when you think about it, shooting themselves in the foot.

My experience - I'm sorry, flame me if you wish - is that most waiters definitely do not deserve any money on top of the obscene mark-up because they know very little about the wines on their list.
I gain nothing from them, so why in the world should I pay them something extra?

All this does is drive customers such as myself to have house wine or beer.
Tipping is often a sick game. It is infinitely better to include the service charge in the price!

I'm not stingy. I like value for money and not to be taken for a ride.
Joy, the fact that you may milk your customers, and that many of your competitors do the same doesn't make it right.
The issue on this thread isn't the overpriced wine. The issue is expecting anyone in his right mind to pay a *tip* on that overpriced wine!!!

As for "enjoying and not complaining", sorry, I cannot take your advice. I will indeed complain when my hard-earned money buys something sub-standard or vastly overpriced.
Telling people to "stay home" if they don't want to be taken for a ride as you do is the worst possible suggestion and I was very surprised to read your comment.

Best regards,
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Covert » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:17 am

AlexR wrote:My experience - I'm sorry, flame me if you wish - is that most waiters definitely do not deserve any money on top of the obscene mark-up because they know very little about the wines on their list.I gain nothing from them, so why in the world should I pay them something extra?


Hi Alex,

I don’t know if you related at all to what I said above, or even read it. I know that a man can help create a majestic dining experience in which the wait staff becomes protagonists in his movie. I was glad for this thread because it solidified an idea I have always held about the almost spiritual importance of dining – the reason I resonated with Babette’s Feast so much. I have received marriage proposals from waitresses I would almost consider marrying, if I were single, and had male waters pay homage to my female companion as thought she were a queen or a movie star. These connections have reached the empyrean for me, in the way that I used the endlessly upward spiral metaphor in my above response, which I lifted from a critique of a Liszt sonata which did that.

I think there are many dense waiters and waitresses, for sure; but I think many go into serving food because deep down, and usually without realizing it, they share the quest for the spiritual dining connection. I feel it is my responsibility to bring it out of them, and I have been successful a number of times. So I actually save up money that I might otherwise give to charity so that I can tip large in my little game of creating heaven on earth.

So to speak. Don't take anything I say seriously, as I know you are smart enough to figure out on your own. I say stuff for the fun of it, not that I believe it.

Best,
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Re: Tip 20% on pricey restaurant wine? Why or why not?

Postby Howie Hart » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:40 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:I have to point out that in most places up here a certain % of the servers total/final ring out goes to management, bartender and kitchen etc. I am sure this applies to many US establishments also.
My first job (45 years ago!) was as a busboy in a local hotel restaurant. At the end of the night, the wait staff all pooled and split the tips, a portion shared with the busboys, but not management or kitchen. The division of tips was usually followed by a crap game. :o
Chico - Hey! This Bottle is empty!
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