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new 'tipping' policy at Incanto

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new 'tipping' policy at Incanto

susancinsf | Apr 15, 2004 10:48 PM

Had a night on my own last night, so I dined solo at Incanto (aside for the other poster who asked for a comparison with Antica: never eaten at the later so I can't comment on that.) This was my first time there in quite some time. Hubby and I went there once before, shortly after they opened. I was in the mood to treat myself, and I wanted to check them out again since I had heard such positive reviews under the current (new since I was last there) chef.

If I have time I will try and post more about the meal later (executive summary: food was ok (my entree) to very good (everything else), place has obviously gotten quite a bit more popular and had just a touch of a 'scene' vibe, which certainly wasn't true the last time I ate there. However, there were some inconsistencies in both food and service, so overall I was slightly disappointed given my expectations.), but I did think their new tip policy is interesting and merits a seperate post.

As announced on the menu, they have started adding 5% to every bill as a way to address the requirements of SF's living wage law, 'without having to raise prices'. Fine, but this raises some questions in my mind: does that mean that servers will automatically get the additional 5% even if it isn't needed to raise their income to the required levels for the living wage law? Is there an advantage to the server of this approach over just raising prices? If one is going to add 5%, why not just go all the way and follow the lead of Chez Pannise and add a full tip amount (I think CP adds 18%?) And finally of course, in a restuarant that follows such a policy, what is an appropriate (additional) tip to leave? Should I have left my normal 18 to 20%? or should I have reduced my tip by 5% (I left 15%, so does that mean the server in essence got 20%? Service was decent, but as I said, there were some inconsistencies and minor annoyances).

Interestingly, two gentlemen at another table asked their server for his opinion as to how they should handle the issue. At least, I assume that is what they asked: they were using their 'indoor voices' and I couldn't hear their half of the conversation. I COULD hear the response, because the server proceeded to give his extended opinion of the law, the restaurants response, and the like, in a voice loud enough to be heard four tables away. (which I found to be somewhat inappropriate; I am reasonably sure he was speaking that loudly for the benefit of the person behind the bar who appeared to be really in charge of things. This was early in my visit, before it got rather crowded and noisier.) The server in question wasn't unhappy with the policy, just wanted his opinion known (in great detail). He did claim that Incanto's policy was superior to that of 'some' other SF restaurants, 'where servers are being fired right and left even though they have worked there for years'.

Not sure if that is true, but am curious as to other Chowhound's views and input, both regarding the policy itself as a viable solution to the issue, and as to what an appropriate tip amount would be under such a policy?

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