We reserve the right to add 15% gratuity has been indicated on all our menus over the last decade. In fact, we’ve been adding 15% gratuity to deliveries since we started delivering 20 years ago. Recently, we’ve needed to reserve that right on dine-ins as well. We hope the following information helps in resolving any issues with automatic gratuity.
The automatic gratuity or “auto-grat” as it is known in the industry is becoming the standard practice in many restaurants, however, Bo and I want to explain why we permit our servers to auto-grat at their discretion in our restaurant.
Recently, we’ve noticed customers receiving a student or occupational discount neglect to tip their server(s). In addition, we run a good amount of specials throughout the week that again, many customers take advantage of but for whatever reason neglect to tip their servers. Since all of our servers have ample experience, we knew it couldn’t be the lack of service or anything pertaining to the food since the same people who fail to tip brag about the food and compliment us on the food upon their exiting the restaurant.
After evaluation and a customer survey, we determined that a good amount of people thought they didn’t have to tip their server here because we are a “pizzeria” or “pizza parlor” and not a fine dining establishment. Many patrons look at us as counter service although we are not a counter service establishment whatsoever. We are a full service restaurant. Not one person questioned commented on lack of service as a reason. It all came down to their perception of the establishment. With that being said, it has become increasingly difficult to keep good servers employed here due to the fact that they do an exceptional job and do not feel rewarded for it by our patrons.
Keep in mind, our servers get paid a server wage (4.34 an hour) which is below minimum wage because most of their salary is based on tips. This is how they report their earnings-- as “tipped employees.”
For a long time tips were not an issue here. Recently, however, whether it’s the economy or other factors, tipping Mannie & Bo’s servers --some have been here 14 years and have seen the decline in tips-- has become a thing of the past and to prevent that, we’ve allowed our servers to auto-grat 15% at their discretion.
Most of our customers who regularly tip our servers have embraced this and praised us for doing it since it takes care of the math for them. Some even leave more than the 15% because they feel the national average is 18-20% and we are below that—which is fine, they can leave all they want for the good service they receive.
We ask for those surprised or taken back by the auto-grat, not take it personally as an insult but to understand that it has become a necessary thing to do in this day and age.
We have considered paying our servers a higher wage-- more than the state’s minimum of $7.36 per hour-- so we wouldn’t have the necessity to auto-grat but in doing so, we would be forced to do away with all of our deals and specials and raise our prices. Although a small price increase may be necessary here and there, we would have to raise our prices tremendously just to keep our doors open.
If you are a customer who is not comfortable with our auto-grat policy, the good news is that the auto-grat will be seen less and less as some of our newer staff members get to know the regulars. It will take some time for them to develop that comfort zone with customers who understand how tipping works. Bo and I appreciate your patience and understanding regarding this matter.