Loosing Your Tip.

I have been a professional chef and waiter most of my life. I am not your garden variety chef or waiter. I was not some snotty college brat who for 4 years made omelette’s and burgers on the side  and one day called himself a chef. I trained hard for 3 1/2 years and studied under three chefs as an apprentice after that. I carve ice, carve vegetables for buffets, have studied confections, have excelled in pastries and cake decorating. I can turn out 300  hundred breakfasts an hour slinging hash or I can cook table side for kings. In addition I’ve  also studied Restaurant management, dining room service and supervision as a portion and elective towards my goal of having a well rounded education in the field. Plus, in addition  have 35 years of experience in the field.

Your ability to command knowledge of both ends of the house like this can make you a viable and desirable contribution to any restaurant. The bottom line is this. If you’re working out front and the cook gets drunk you’re able to cover his ass.  If you’re working in the back you are able to put on a tux and help out in the front if they are ever short. It also cuts down on the bullshit factor.  Any cook or chef in the back  who’s screwing orders or falling behind can bullshit me simply because I can usually do his job better than him.  I can look over the line and tell them exactly why my food is screwed up or not ready. The same goes when I’m in the back of the house,, I know when the wait staff or floor management are full of it.

This well rounded knowledge and versatility has made me a formidable force in any restaurant I have ever worked in. It has also caused a few rivalries to take place, but we’ll save that for another story.

The standard tip percentage for a waiters is 15%. I am not a standard waiter by any means. I don’t miss a trick. My tip average has always lingered around 20 to 25%. The main reason being that I know my shit on both ends of the house. If you are fortunate enough to sit at one of my tables and you have any questions about your meals ingredients or preparation , you will get an instantaneous appetite stimulating description of whats in your meal and how its prepared. and how its.  You will not be subjected to the  idiot waiter who has to run back to the kitchen every-time he needs an answer or sounds like some robotic stepford wife reading the info off an index card. I pay close attention to every detail and have the social skills to know if you want to be left the  alone  so you can get a hand job under the table after dessert, or have me pamper you and you’re client until he cant see straight and thinks the me waiter is your best friend and you’ve brought him to the best house in town. If your bill is 200.00 , you will give me at least 50.00., I promise you.  After 2 or 3 months at any restaurant I will usually have my own clientele and fill my own station with them alone, As a matter of fact in Waikiki I have worked at all the fine houses,  whenever I would relocate  my customers would follow me to that house because they knew that with me around, the food and service was going to be exceptionally good.

 Around the 80s and 90s I noticed a new and disturbing trend taking place in restaurants across the country. It was socialistic. It was communistic. It was collective wealth redistribution in its raw form…. It was called ” TIP POOLING ”

I was first subjected to this shit in the 80s at a place called Baxters in Huntington beach Ca. at the south end of Beach boulevard in Orange county. I was not aware of this until my first night of employment as a simple line cook. I had just arrived in Ca. and had to take what I could get , quickly ! Now you might think to yourself how does tip pooling effect a line cook ? He gets a nice hourly wage as opposed to the wait staff who mostly relies on their tips as their main income, right ? Wrong!

Here is a n example of why socialism and tip pooling are the same and are both always destined to fail.

I felt sorry for this one  waiter who  was busting his ass and raking in tips that averaged over 15% of his food sales and because of pooling  some other waiter that had been picking his nose all night was going to walk out with just as much in his pocket that night as all the others who had worked much harder. And after a few weeks of this , the waiter that was doing all the work had started  to let his work ethic, motivation and service slip. Why should he go out of his way anymore to please his customers by applying the edge he had so as to  bring home a little more than the next guy who wasn’t doing shit?  His motivating factor had been taken away from him, there was no point in going above and beyond.

Restaurants and  governments operate very much the same.  Let me explain how I come to this comparison. We’ll start at the top which is the corporations and entrepreneur’s, the thinkers. In restaurants this would be the management. They over see all functions and establish budgets and food costs, menu prices and all applicable standards and ideas. The next tier of representation would be productive  industry. This would be the back of the house that prepares the food. They are the same as the factories and  the mills, the actual product producers. The third tier would be the service and wait staff. They are the retail and sales outlets and commercials you see everywhere. The first three tiers also represent our society, the general population. The fourth tier would be the government.

The government has applied a system of taxation on the Restaurant that is calculated in relevance to their profit margin instead of annual net revenue. The higher the percentage of profit. The taxation then becomes progressive and relevant on a scale that depletes any hope of maintaining enough gross profit so as to be able to open another restaurant should this one with this formula be profitable. The same can be said for any investor who would become apprehensive in succeeding above the 250,000 a year margin Obamahas set. When this system is applied to all of corporate America, its just like tip pooling, the desire to  excel is limited by knowing that what you worked for will be given to some undeserving slob.

The problems of wealth redistribution or ” tip pooling” will trickle down from the very front of the house to the back of the house and then to the house as a whole itself.

Taking from the hard  working motivated public by forms of taxation will trickle down to demoralize any society as a whole.

After a few weeks of having to give up the extra tips that this waiter has worked so hard to earn, he gives up giving good service due to lack of morale and reason, and regresses to become just a mediocre ordinary waiter. And his attitude is reflected in his tips, they suck. As a result the pool collected at the end of the night is now smaller and the rest of the wait staff notices also that after everything is divided up they are also going home with less now than in previous weeks. Consequently, the whole wait staff has become demoralized and could give a shit. No more free lunch.

When the front of our country’s house ( retail and commercial) is taxed to death and offered wages that are constraining they become of a hopeless attitude. True, they have a job and health-care. But no matter how hard they work, that is all they will ever have. Consequently they are also demoralized and could give shit. With this realization the pace and ability to sell and market and actually collect the money needed  faces a pace that is relevant to the mindset of hopelessness. Service the front begins to slow.  The product does not get moved any more than the restaurant will sell food. If the product is not moved, it is comparable to the food sitting and getting cold. And then naturally your patrons and/or retail customers will go elsewhere.  I think you can figure out the rest.

Don’t take away my motivation, don’t take away my reason to do better than the next guy by giving away all my extra work to those lazy ass entitlement freaks that are just sitting on their ass waiting for me to throw my wad in the jar. Because I will leave. And when myself and the others that  feel the same way leave. You will be left with nothing but 4 walls and some empty tables.

 The good old privately owned Ma & Pa restaurants are the only ones I will work in. They are the  part of the cornerstone of a free and flexible market in societies that thrive like ours where 70 + percent of small business is responsible for almost all the jobs in this country. They thrive because they allow the freedom to express and try new recipes without being held to ridiculous standards of mundane uniformity. They allow the waiters to actually have personalities and act like humans in the face of other humans who don’t want some fucking insensitive robot to run off  the days specials all in one breath. And they most certainly will never ask the best waiter to give up the difference in his gratuities to some slob punk college brat who has nothing more on his mind than a centerfold of Nancy Pelosi and Hillary sucking each other dry.

I have even worked in places where the wait staff must give the cooks a percentage of their tips also !

Look ! If you pay a good man on the line what he is worth without being so cheap as to take some of his wage out of the waiters tips he will always treat you right. He will prepare the food well, as a result the waiters customers will be happy and come back again and again for the food alone even if the service is not a 100%. Everything will take care of itself. But if the cook thinks all he has to do is cruise the night and get a nice wad at my expense no matter what,  he has lost reason to be motivated.

Obama and the rest of the mindless unimaginative idiots that think they can solve all our problems and everything under the sun by wealth reditribution have more than likely never worked at a level such as in a restaurant that has tip pooling. Or as they like to call it ” a fair and even playing field” or “economic justice”

And just for the record. I walked out on Baxters after the third week. My daughters mother is Italian/Mexican. That night I had accidentally over cooked one of those stupid ass Californian pizza concoctions that were so preppy and popular in those days. You know, the ones with sprouts and avocado with granola and caviar or some stupid shit like that.  Before serving it I asked a manager if he thought it would be better to offer the customer a cocktail in apologies since he would have to wait for the next  one. The Manager told me that he thought was a good idea. I then asked him what he thought I should do with the burnt pizza.

His exact words were; ” Give it to the fucking Mexicans, they’ll eat it .”

I asked him why he thought the Mexicans would want it any more than anyone else would want it.

He lookes at me almost crosseyed asked me what my problem was.

I told him there was no problem for me. I put the pizza in front of him, told him to enjoy it,took off my apron and walked right out the front door scratching my ass.



  1. this is a great post, Micky. I have never heard of such a thing, but I guess I wouldn’t doubt it. After all, people are so concerned with being fair to everybody regardless of how much they contribute that it just makes sense to hear about a practice like collective tip pooling.

    You’re right though. This sort of thing destroys work ethic and the drive to do a good job. On a small scale, like your restaurant example, it’s much easier to see than the larger scale of national socialism… But the results are still the same. The best workers, feeling taken advantage of and under appreciated, eventually either leave or stop working up to teir potential, leaving a greater portion of the burden on everybody else. Eventually things just collapse as quality and morale plummet.

    It amazes me that anybody would think this is ok! I mean, how can people not see what happens when this course of action is pursued?

  2. I’ve worked in places that watch you like a hawk to make sure you pay your busboy a certain % no matter how much he sucks. I’m not making any money cause he sucks and then I still have to pay him a certain %.
    I’ve had cooks chase me with knives through the dining room because I told them they suck and I can cook circles around them and they are not getting a fucking dime out of me, of course my employment in these joints never lasted.

    For about 20 years now restaurants have been told by the IRS that they must tax waiters on 15% of their food sales as a way to collect on tips, this 15% comes out of the pay check.
    Ther was a time when a waiter could make good money, a couple or three hundred a night and go home with most of it. Corporates execs from thre chains and franchises saw an opportunity for more job placement and creation by imposing on the waiters income.
    Half the time I dont need my busboy,or a cocktail waitress, or a runner

  3. Well, this lagniappe of an article is one everyone better take to the bank.

    Arclightzero, it’s scary how common tip pooling has become. No joke. It’s sweeping across the country about two steps behind smoking bans.

    Last year, for instance, if you’ll indulge me a moment, micky2, I applied for this bartending job in Boulder — a good town to work in because it’s busy — at a new French Bistro that was opening up. I went through a lengthy application and interview process but, in short, I wound up getting the job.

    The owner was also the chef and, like you, micky2, he was the real deal: not a young turk fresh out of culinary school, or whatever — this guy had slogged it out in kitchens, first as a prep-cook, then as an apprentice, then sous chef, for twenty years. He new his shit. I give him that.

    Unlike you, however, he had no front-of-the-house knowledge at all. Accordingly, he decided his restaurant was going to pool tips. It didn’t really affect the ol antisocialist, since I was bartender, not serving; still, it’s the principle.

    Thus, about a week before we opened, at an all-staff meeting, this owner asked if anyone had anything else to say. The ol antisocialist gathered up his big nuts and gave a detailed and rather lawyer-like explication of precisely why it is no restaurant should pool tips. I gave them every legitimate reason in the book — from the breeding laziness factor that inevitably ensues, to the motivation-destroying that happens to your good servers, to the inherent unfairness of it, to, most important, the fact that it is absolutely antithetical to the whole principle behind tipping, to much more — and after about 20 miniutes of explaining, do you know what?

    The ol antisocialist, who at that time was known, simply, as Nick the Dick, persuaded nearly everyone on the staff — with one major exception: the owner. From that day forward, Nick the Dick’s relationship with that owner was markedly strained.

    And tips among the servers were pooled.

  4. Hey , when you make my point for me I’ll indulge you all you like.
    And I’m sure that if you were my bartender we would make a good team and I would see no need for anyone to tell me what you were worth.
    I lost my job waiting at a very panache little Italian joint in Waikiki called Matteos.
    We had a cocktail waitress whos name was Buffy ( YUP) On the days when my station was next to the bar the bitch would use all the dishs and silver in my bus station whehever serving appetizers at the bar or in the lounge. This would strain my busboy and myself. And I still had to contribute a mandatory figure for her every night.
    The only reason Buffy had this precedence over the rest of us was because she was fucking the owner.
    After a couple weeks of this shit I refused to pay her unless she would replenish items taken from my station and suck my dick.
    Remember the part where I said my clientle would follow me to wherever I worked ?

  5. Nick the dick ?
    For a short while at a place in Anahiem called the Olive Tree.
    The first cook was Nick, the chef was Rick, and I was your dining room captain.
    The three of uswent clubbing one night and saw this little cuty at a bar. All three of us approached her at the same time.
    She asked us our names, and so I introduced Rick,Nick and Mick.
    She laughed, only for us to find out she only had three teeth.
    And no, we did not.

  6. micky2 wrote: > And no, we did not.

    We, micky2? What about you?

  7. We all talked each other out of it.

  8. But I did volutneer to replace the gogo dancer that hurt her ankle.
    It was a fun night, one of my happier drunks. I was swinging my 500.00 leather jacket over my head and twisting away on stage with about 300 people watching when I accidentaly let go of the jacket. It went flying into the audience and some guy tried to split with it. Rick caught him outside and spanked him.
    We had to leave.

  9. “I have been a professional chef and waiter most of my life.”

    I like that job in theory. You can imagine it being really fun and fulfilling.

    However, I’ve heard in practice the job can be horrible. Long hours, ungrateful people, etc.

  10. Depends on the house.
    I’ve worked in shit shacks and I’ve worked in some of the most prestigeous houses in the country. The better houses dont get such ungrateful folks like typical steak and seafood joints. Most of my employment was at the high end.
    I enjoy it if the house is professional. I dont mind the hours.
    When you get into management, the hours dont pay off.
    I’ve been better off waiting tables at a quality house, take my tips and go home.
    make more money, less hassle.
    Fraunces tavern in NYC paid 400.00 a week as their head waiter. My tips each week were double that. I worked a 4 hour lunch took a 2 hour break and worked a 5 hour dinner. This was in 75. That imcome then was cooler than shit.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s