Advice Guy

An industry expert answers questions on improving restaurant operations

Have a question for the Restaurant Business Advice guy?

Want to ask our Advice Guy?

Submit your question here.

Latest Articles
Q.

We historically have used a service charge to offset payroll expenses. As an off-premise catering company, how do we state this included charge to comply with the new [automatic gratuity] standards? 

Q.

We recently had a guest drink too much and I didn’t notice that she was intoxicated until she stood up to leave. I called her a cab and in the mean time she insisted on going to her car and driving home. I know what I could have done to prevent over-serving (and I’m kicking myself and retraining her server) but should I have restrained her or otherwise forcibly prevented her from getting in her car? I tried to talk her out of it but it didn’t work.

A.

Of course your big mistake was over-serving and a good responsible alcohol service program like TIPS or ServSafe Alcohol will give you and your staff some tools like count

Q.

We are a restaurant that offers great value for the price. We have been in business for 26 years. Recently our city opened a new convention center and the requests to offer discounts for the incoming convention folks are becoming the norm. My challenge is: when did it become an expectation to offer discounts at an already reasonably priced restaurant. I would appreciate your advice on this matter.

A.

For a high value, reasonably priced restaurant like yours, especially one without a liquor license, requests for discounts are going to mean a bigger hit than they would f

Q.

Your column last week addresses the auto grat topic but doesn't discuss how to overcome short tips on parties for which there is a deposit. Most guests tip on the amount shown on the charge slip rather than the actual amount of the bill—I think it's an oversight on their part, but one that it seems indiscreet to challenge.  We require a $250 (sometimes larger) deposit for private parties, which is applied to the bill. If the guest tips on the net amount, the tip would be about $50 short.  The same is true for us on New Year's Eve. We require a 50 percent deposit, based on the prix-fixe menu price—a party of 6 with a $450 tab and a $50 deposit may only tip on the $225. How do you suggest we overcome this?

A.

As operators shift from automatic gratuities (auto grats) to suggested gratuities as part of a new IRS rule, the wrin

Q.

We no longer add an automatic gratuity to large party checks, but instead list "suggested " tips at 15, 18 and 20 percent, at the bottom of the guest check. My servers don't like this because they feel guests typically tip on the total check, which includes sales tax, and their tips will be less. My argument is that servers should not expect to be tipped on sales tax, since they do nothing to generate that charge, and their tips should be based on food and beverage sales, and of course quality of service. Am I wrong?

A.

From an operations perspective, it is smart to get rid of the automatic gratuity (“auto grat”), since the IRS considers i

Pages

Advertisement