So You Want To Be A Waiter

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Daily Archives: September 11, 2009

No guns allowed sign posted

I’m proud to report that a shiny new “No guns allowed” sticker now graces the front door of our restaurant. I just noticed it, and it might have been there for a while.

As I previously posted, a new law allowing concealed weapons in establishments serving alcohol was passed and went into effect in July. In a little bit of insanity, an establishment has to publically opt out instead of publically opting in. I think that legislators underestimated the willingness of restaurant operators to post “No guns” signs. I think they thought that operators would be too timid to risk the wrath of gun owners and wouldn’t like the idea of saying that their restaurant doesn’t have gun-toting vigilanties ready to gun down a bad guy.

As I also pointed out, if these people had been looking out for the public safety, they would have had restaurants have to post “Guns allowed here” signs. This would theoretically send a message to the potential perp that he or she wasn’t alone in packing. Instead, they are marking restaurants as “easy marks”. So, you would think that most restaurants wouldn’t opt out. However, in Nashville at least, signs are popping up like so many dandelions. Earlier, it was estimated that up to 75% of all Metro restaurants will opt out. I don’t know if that will end up being the number, but there sure are a lot of restaurants doing it. And frankly, I didn’t think my GM would do it. Kudos to the GM. My GM likes shooting Glocks at the range as much as any other red-blooded American, but understands the danger of mixing alcohol and guns, having to deal with potential powderkegs every once in a while (like just a week ago when I had to help escort a belligerant asshole outside).

I think that the Nashville restaurant community is pretty brave standing up to this backwards law. And there are restaurant people trying to get it declared unconstitutional (to state law). I support their efforts. I believe that Memphis is also going this route as well. Both communities have already banned guns in their municipal parks (they were allowed to do that in the bill). 70 cities have also taken this step.


Tip definitions

Tips– voluntary but expected payments for services rendered. Also inaccurately called gratuities. Inaccurate in the sense that they aren’t considered gratuities in the usual sense for tax purposes. Even the IRS confuses this on occasion.  True gratuities are not considered taxable income (subject to limits) in any other area other than in the “tipped employee” realm. It is my opinion that the IRS needs to address this and eliminate the term gratuities whenever it’s discussing tips.

Tip Pool– any arrangement where all employees throw their tips into the hat. Tips are then redistributed according to pre-agreed to terms.  In the case of bartenders, this redistribution can occur as a percentage of the number of hours worked as shifts can vary. In the case of servers, this redistribution can follow the same guidelines as a traditional tipout (see below). 

Tipout – an arrangement where each individual server is responsible for distributing a portion of their individual tips to other tipped employees in payment for services rendered. this is usually expressed as a percentage of either total sales or total tips.

Autogratuity (autograt) – a specialized service charge added directly to the bill in lieu of a voluntary tip. Usually noted on the menu as something added for specific circumstances such as a table exceeding a certain number of people. Normally computed on the pre-tax total.

Service charge – an extra charge in lieu of tips. This is usually applied to the entire bill for every table in the restaurant regardless of size. Occasionally, this is a charge imposed for a booked private party. Normally computed on the pre-tax total.

Credit card fee deduction from tips – exactly what it means. The fee that a business pays the credit card processor. Not allowed to be deducted in all locales. Check your local state regulations.

Things to know – employers are not allowed to take any portion of a tipped employee’s tips with the exception of credit card fees. In some states, employers are allowed to deduct for walk outs or breakage, but in some states, this is expressly forbidden. Tips are considered to be the “sole property” of the tipped employees except that tipouts are allowed as long as it’s a prior agreed to arrangement by all employees affected. Service charges and autogratuities are not considered tips and are therefore the property of the employer. In the case of autogratuities, these are normally treated as tips by employers although employers aren’t bound by law to do so. In the case of service charges, in some cases, they are used in toto to pay all wages of tipped and non-tipped employees. In some cases they are treated as simple tips and in some cases, they are used to “tip out” kitchen employees and private party booking managers. This is totally legal.

I hope this clears up the distinctions between these different terms. They are sometimes confused and misunderstood.