Letter: Genevas Daas

Last Thursday night I ate in a recently opened local restaurant (not fancy whatsoever).

After eating a $12 bowl of chicken soup and a $29 corned beef sandwich (food was very good), I was presented with a bill with an automatic tip of 18% built in (this is high for such an unsophisticated establishment).

The server then asked for an additional tip using the handheld electronic device. I responded that I was billed 18% (which I felt was very generous). I was then told that the restaurant owner keeps the 18% and the servers only get tips if it is over the 18%.

I gave the additional tip then I called the manager when I got home and he confirmed that this is true.

There are at least two issues with this behavior.

1) It is genevas daas from all the customers as we feel we tipped generously but the money is just used to add to our food costs (my sandwich was then $38).

2) We are made to feel cheap if we don’t give an additional tip. This is unethical behavior.

Please ask in all restaurants you go to if this is what they do and if so vote with your feet and leave.


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    • SO we all just believe the letter writer?
      I am not calling him a liar, but there are many points he may have missed at his own fault.

      1) MANY restaurant and other higher-end-service types charge an 18% service fee. It is standard. and it is NOT a tip.

      2) He claims not to have known about it. And I believe him. But MANY times these establishments mention their fees at the bottom, or in the back, of the menu.
      Many times it can be missed, because the NATURE of these establishments are not to have large advertisements about price.
      The ambiance is one of “poshness”. And they expect the consumer to know that.

      3) This writer claims that this restaurant is “not fancy whatsoever”, seemingly admitting that if it was he would have understood the “service fee” ( did he call it a built-in-tip)? Well, it may very well be that his tastes of what is “fancy” may not match the owners taste. Why are so many commenters here just taking his word for it? and with prices as they were, it sure seems as though this establishment considers itself “high end”!

      To sum it up. He was not charged 2 tips, he was charged an industry standard 18%
      No geneivas daas commited, just avak motzei shem ra.
      And no one made anyone feel cheap. You ARE cheap if a tip is expected and you dont give. Service fee or not.

      Now, I am not saying that i am correct in all this and he is wrong, It is just APPALLING to see how everyone jumped on his bandwagon and accepted the story at face value.

    • Absolutely illegal.
      Wage theft is real and nearly always goes unpunished.
      I can recommend a good labor attorney if you would like to go back and talk to the waitstaff in that establishment.
      That being said, the first Highway robbery occurred when the Original Poster of the stock paid $12 for a bowl of chicken soup!

  1. This is very possibly illegal. There have been several high profile cases recently of similar behavior by management where they did not give over all the tip money to staff resulting in huge lawsuits. I also believe it is some sort of geneiva (not sure what geneivas daas is) since you’re charging more – a lot more -than advertised. I’m sure he has some disclaimer somewhere in small letters regarding this but…

  2. I think this may actually be illegal under NJ law. Gratuities, whether compulsory or not, go to the wait staff and cannot be held by the establishment or divided up with other staff.

  3. That’s is exorbitant! I personally would never eat in a restaurant that isn’t up front about their prices and the whole tipping thing should stop. Waiters should be paid a normal salary and not get tipped at all. Why should the owner be getting an 18% tip any way? He should price the food the way he feels fit and make his salary out of his earnings without an extra tip so people know beforehand what they’ll be expected to pay.

  4. The 18% is a service charge. The waiter/waitress in most Lakewood establishments get paid an hourly rate and do not need to be tipped. The lack of clarity on the owners part is a scam but isn’t illegal.

  5. Grocery stores soon are going to charge gratuity too. The way I see it is stores tried it people just paid it so now it’s a bigger percentage and no one even noticed.

  6. I live out of town, and through my professional work have heard a similar thing happen in a local restaurant: Tips that are paid for electronically go to the owner, while cash tips go to the waiter. While dining, the consumer has no idea (and not surprisingly, most pay their bill electronically).

  7. Relax guys there are 2 ways of doing this the old way was a waiter didnt get paid or was paid very little and only kept the tips old way but somw fancy places still do it…. new way is higher guaranteed pay for the waiter whether they give good service or not ….eitger way waiter new the rules in advance and still broke etiquette and asked for additonal compensation ….not cool of waiter…

  8. When you an 18 percent charge that itself tells you not to tip. In fact, in Mikes Bistro it states specifically on the menu that all waiters get a full salary and no tipping is necessary. In this restaurant it may be a surcharge for “dining in” and billed as gratuity which I see often. Either way these prices don’t belong in such a restaurant (I know which one it is)

  9. Wow! Shocking
    I have no idea if it’s illegal or not but as a consumer this really ticks me off.
    It’s literally just raising your prices by 18% without the shock factor.

    Not nice.

  10. Kashrus Magazine # 209 had an interesting article on page 24 re: Gratuities.

    A 3-4% mandatory Gratuity for the Mashgiach, no one will object, and we can get a better quality Mashgiach.

    Write an article about it.

  11. For the owner, eating in costs more than food for takeout. Its possible that the 18% reflects the added expenses incurred the establishment by sitting in the restaurant. Regarding tipping waiters, my understanding is that the minimum wage they are paid is compensated by patrons’ tips. and in some high end restaurants, the tips by far exceed the pay, and the incentive for the waiters to work is the generous tipping. a local college student shared that she makes 5000.00 a week sometimes from her waitering job.

  12. i agree everything should be written up front so the sandwich is not 29.00 what is the real price
    next time walk out before you eat
    be smart not right

  13. Some restaurants bill this as a service fee and not as gratuity. Usually this is where the owner pays a normal wage to his waiters as opposed to the minimum server wage + tips. For most waiters this is a actually to their advantage as they have a steady and reliable income as opposed to having their income dependent on the busyness of the restaurant and check amount of the tables.
    Also keep in mind if the waiters are earning through tips they are always required to share the tips with the busboys, runners and expediters and more often than not they’re coming out ahead If they’re earning a salary while the owner has greater expenses since it’s a full w-2 as opposed to a partial with a 4070 tax document.

  14. name of resturaunt please. I need to know where not to go. also if you claim this is loshon hora, it means its true. we need to stop these ripoff practices. public outcry and protest works wonders

    • See reply to commenter 1. This is NOT bad business paractice. This is bad consumer awareness.
      And while in the USA shady people have made the culture one of robinhood, i.e. steal from the (perceived) rich, and no responsibility on behalf of the consumer.

      The fact remains, that it is the consumers responsibility to know what he is buying. And in the case of this letter writer, all that seems presented is opinion, and not one concrete claim to actual fraud or misleading activities.

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