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Restaurants & Bars 4

Service charge

Gary Scheele | Oct 15, 2004 02:22 PM

I don't know if this has been discussed here before, but it was new to me. On Sunday I took 2 friends to a neighborhood Italian place, Incanto, which I had always found to be quite reliable. I was puzzled by an item on the check, and when I inquired, the waiter politely pointed out a line at the bottom of one of the the menus ... I include the quote from their website:

"Incanto is one of a handful of San Francisco restaurants that includes a partial service charge (5% of the total bill) on each diner's check because we are concerned about the widening wage inequities that exist between tipped employees and non-tipped employees in San Francisco's restaurants. Although our talented, hard-working waiters and bussers deservedly receive much of the recognition and financial reward for serving your dinner, our equally diligent cooks and dishwashers also provide a critical part of your service. We use the funds from this service charge to offer comprehensive medical benefits to all our full-time employees and to share part of the rewards from each night's work with non-tipped kitchen employees."

I don't disagree that kitchen staff deserve decent pay, and that's what bugs me. Putting this 5% on the check seems to be trying to relieve the restaurant of the responsibility of giving the kitchen staff benefits and raising the menu prices accordingly. It plays on diners' guilt. Since the 5% is clearly stated, I'd guess that the money is at least being directed where they say it is, but it still rubbed me the wrong way, and ended the meal with a definite *off* note.

Has anyone else encountered this? I'm also wondering what the other "handful of restaurants" might be.

Link: http://www.incanto.biz/

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