The Daily Rail: Is it Illegal to Give a Service Charge to Servers?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Today's Specials: 


STOP!: Time to Deal with the Our Industry's Sexual Harassment Epidemic

If this election season has proven anything, it’s that we need to revisit our definitions of appropriate behavior when it comes to the treatment of women. And the restaurant industry has a long way to go to rid itself of its sexism and rampant sexual harassment.


GALLERY: Best of Social Media: #ThirstyThursday

The drinking community is more vibrant and alive than ever. This week we're highlighting some great social media content from our Citizens of the Rail. Keep up the great Thursday nights!


BEER TALK: Tap Takeover: Fall Edition [Presented by Upserve]

It seems like every brewery now has some sort of seasonal offering geared up and ready to be put on tap. With people wanting for everything pumpkin, there are just as many people who want to get in the fall mood without it tasting like the famed squash. Here are some festive options for your menu for those guests who don’t want that Pspice in their life.







Not so In-and-Out

Being on the lamb is hungry work. A 35-year-old man/suspect who took police officers through a car chase in Phoenix swung by an In-and-Out for some grub. He placed his order via the drive-thru but drove away without ever getting his food. Bummer. We doubt jail has as good of burgers.


Wine You Want; Protection You Trust

Condoms for your wine is now a thing. The condoms made out of 100% rubber and are meant to replace bottle stoppers. They use shrink-to-fit tech and can fit over almost any bottle – including beers and spirits. The wine condoms come in resealable packaging so you can get more than one use out of them… shudders.

Cracking the Code

A Thai restaurant is looking to challenge their guest's minds as well as satisfy their stomachs. They posted a sign with a long math equation as their wi-fi code. We all assume the answer is the password, but the sign has Reddit it a tumult over figuring it out. Think you’re smart enough to crack the wi-fi code? Check out the equation here and let us know what you think the answer is.



Why it matters to you: State and federal law have to be considered when playing with policy.

A couple of Maine restaurants want to do away with tipping, but their proposed solution may be breaking the law. Bao Bao Dumpling House and Baristas and Bites (not yet open) want to replace traditional tipping with a surcharge to bills instead. Federal law allows a service charge to go to servers.

The issue is that a state law prevents service charges from going to servers. Under the law, the establishment has to notify guests that the charge is going to the business only, but it’s mostly in the case of a country club, not for a restaurant setting. While we applaud these two Maine restaurants for trying to address a growing issue among restaurant workers, this is a great example of why you should check in with state laws before instituting new policies. 



Why it matters to you: If you want in on mobile, learn from the mistakes and triumphs of the chains before you jump onboard

In a recent survey, the accounting pros at Deloitte found that the average consumer has 3 restaurant-related apps on their phone. Why so few? As this gallery of restaurant apps shows, mostly because there aren’t a lot of well-built and intuitive ones to choose from in the market. If you follow the measure in the gallery you see the three key indicators are pleasing design, ease of navigation and user-friendliness. If you fall short in any one category, you can kill your app. Add to that the technical requirements to integrate valuable features like loyalty, payment, and seating management. You can understand why restaurant apps have been a mixed bag of results.

The most powerful insight this gallery delivers is a comparison of various restaurant apps and their features. If you are still considering a proprietary mobile app, review the various versions and note the features you like and start planning on how to incorporate them. Remember, design matters, so don’t waste time on what you want and focus on what guests want. Then make sure it’s easy to use, it has an elegant layout and for goodness sakes that it works. It’s not easy, but you can certainly transform your marketing approach if you build an app your regulars will willingly download and use. So start by knowing what works and doesn’t and go from there.



Why it matters to you: Justifying extra fees for service can cause friction with guests, is it worth it?

When a guest arrives at your place for their special occasion, they are there because they trust you to enhance the experience. On some occasions, they may want to bring their own cake for dessert or share a special bottle of wine that you don’t carry. If you have this situation regularly then you likely have a policy regarding corkage or cakeage fees. Such was the case at a Nobu in Perth Australia restaurant that got negative feedback because they charged a $25 cake plating fee.

The chef took to Facebook to rant about a guest that posted they were, “left flabbergasted this week, and seemingly behind the times, upon learning one of my favourite spots for a family gathering, Mandoon Estate, charged a 'cakeage' fee for customers.” The chef responded horribly, to be frank, but it doesn’t mean his rant was wrong. The key to making ‘extra fees’ palatable is communication. Many times guests will alert you they have a cake for their party and then you MUST share your policy. No matter how you handle it, ranting about it on Facebook doesn’t fix the issue. So, set your policy, post it and stick to it. Otherwise, you deserve the guest’s ire.