"It's the world's smallest violin playing just for the waitresses."
That discretionary 12.5% you find added to your bill on a meal gone either way should not go to waste. Non non no. It shouldn’t be distributed amongst all staff either. Why should a chef get a bit of what the management or directors have decided to add to your bill whether they’ve been good or bad? The chef’s wages should be structured so he couldn’t give jealous fuck about the tips and service. I can’t say I’m 100% where that service charge goes to. Does it buy them a beer or gin and tonic after service? Does it send them on courses to become more involved and a better waiter/ress? Who has this knowledge? I’d like to know.
Until I find out I’d like to suggest ways to find a good cause for adding a service without me even having a word in. First thing: adding that little percentage is already giving me an excuse not to dip my hand in my pocket to root around for what I deem a respectable tip (Please note: I can be as generous as I can miserly depending on the display).
Where does that fountain of money go? I recommend taking the weeks add on and sending the sieve brained fuckfarts you’ve decided to employ on at least a basic ‘How To...’or more importantly put them back through the education system. If you want to take them on some surreal and clarifying experience, lace their first coffee with truth serum and take them to Le Gavroche or The Woseley for lunch. Interrogate them with intimate (job related) questions through all courses. By dessert, you’ll know who’s worth keeping and who you should abandon before the bill arrives.
There’s no one in particular I’m pissed with. But I’ve had the misfortune to have been served by cunts so soft boiled that they fuck up a food order even though they’ve typed it into an electronic device, fools so numb they forget cutlery, napkins...water. Rudimentary rules. The manager (if decent and actually on the floor as opposed to napping in the office with trousers around their ankles) should be eagle eyed the whole time these first timers cock up a meal for someone so that they don’t do it again and then they can learn and make less mistakes each service. Mistakes have to be dealt with then and there and have to be corrected. In the business you have to be honest or you don’t get better. Admit it, accept the punishment/bollocking and move on.
Which brings me back to training. You don’t even need to go on a course for this (though it does require a certain amount of common decency/sense). Greet the diner/diners. How are you this evening? Can I take your coat? Take them to their seats. Offer a choice of seats if available. Be familiar. Would you like an aperitif? Any questions about the menu? Recommend dishes you enjoy or the chef brags about. Don’t forget the basics: bread, butter, water, cutlery, napkins. Keep an eye on your area. Ask if they’re enjoying the meal preferably when they haven’t just shoved a forkful of pig belly or onglet in their gobs. Bring the dessert menu. Ask about coffee, digestifs, taxis...all this (which is part of the job) could bring in a sizeable tip from each table you turn. They’ll be happy. You’ll be happy. Who knows maybe the chefs will be smiling from ear to ear too (though I strongly doubt it). And don’t be lazy with lone diners. They are not all serial killers, rapists and restaurant critics. Chefs eat out alone more than any of those listed, as do others in the trade. It’s how they learn. How they appreciate others work. And how they can get a sense of comparison for their place to what someone else is doing. You want to improve? Go eat and drink somewhere on your own and take the whole thing in. Don’t write notes or ring people up ‘cause you worried about the lone diner stigma. Savour an experience of eating where you like, drinking however much you want and judging it all with no one else trying to convince you otherwise. It’s also a decent way to check out how the service varies for different tables. If your bored by your compnay call your waiter/ress over and ask questions or talk to the manager or the people at the table next to you but you won’t need to. Not if you’re being treated well and the food is what you expect.