In early December, Chef Zach Pollack did something unconventional in the restaurant industry; he added an additional tipping line to all receipts at his restaurant Alimento, allowing customers to leave a separate gratuity for the kitchen staff.
What's the reasoning behind this? It's simple. According to Eater, Pollack said:
"It was six to eight weeks ago. I had lost two cooks who were doing a really good job ... I couldn't afford to pay them more than I was, and they ended up taking higher paying jobs. Simultaneously, because of our success and our size, the floor staff is making a good amount of money. I couldn't come up with any more money from the restaurant to offer [the cooks]. "
Creating an additional tip line wasn't the only solution considered by Pollack. He also weighed more traditional options such as raising menu prices and even eliminating tipping all together. According to him, compared to places like Europe and Japan where service is included, tipping is just "a big part of our culture and our economics."
Another option he considered was including a 20% service charge. That money would be used at the restaurant's discretion and placed towards wages or other expenses. Pollack ultimately decided against it since including a service charge wouldn't fit the style of the restaurant. He also didn't like the lack of "transparency" typically associated with service charges. The new Kitchen tipping system created was "fairly easy to adopt." "This is a fix. Is it perfect? Of course not", says Pollack.
Based on several articles, no one yet has ever tipped just the kitchen, even though there is a photo is floating around on Facebook of a receipt indicating that a chef from another restaurant did. A manager for the restaurant confirms that while the chef did only leave a tip for the kitchen, the person he was dining with left an equivalent tip for the front of house staff. Pollack admitted that it was too soon to tell what customers thought about the practice.
Ultimately, Alimento's success installing this new way of tipping will convince other restaurants to adopt a similar measure. Do you think it's a good idea? Will it catch on? Let us know in the comment box below.
**Alimento is located in California