The unannounced service charge
We've talked about tipping during Restaurant Week before, but I don't think this particular subject has come up: The unannounced gratuity added to a large party's check by the restaurant.
I'm sure the rationale is that servers get lower tips for the same amount of work with the cheaper fixed-price menu, but it seems like a good way to alienate customers -- odd when the whole point of Restaurant Week is to attract new ones.
If an establishment is going to add a 20 percent service charge to the check for larger parties, why not announce it on the menu given to the customer? Is there any argument for not doing that?
Or maybe it's just an oversight not to have it on the Restaurant Week menu. In that case, I think you let the customer tip at his discretion.
Here's the e-mail from Michael that prompted this: ...
You must know that while completing both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in DC, I was gainfully employed in some very nice dining establishments and, since I worked in the industry, I consider myself to reward fine service at the conclusion of a meal, without being “forced” to fork over an unannounced and unprinted 20% gratuity for a party of 6 or more.
At the conclusion of our meal, my father and sister chatted with the owners outside the restaurant and it was all I could do to withhold any additional comment. I have frequented many fine (read expensive) Baltimore restaurants and have never been assessed more than an 18% gratuity for a large party…that was a policy clearly printed on the menu.