California ban on restaurant fees

I don’t know anybody who loves tipping

You only see the service charges at the end of the meal and so the prices on the menu can stay lower at the beginning of the meal - and people have less problems to spend their money (even though they would spend at the end the same amount in both cases)

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If menu prices go up I’ll eat out a lot less often. I haven’t been to Hillstone in a few years, used to love their ribs and appetizer of grilled artichokes. The ribs alone now cost $47 + tax + tip … way too expensive for me.

But if prices would go up but there would be no service charge (because the prices would already include those charges (and perhaps even tips) - would you still eat out less ?

Blame it on sites like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Opentable, etc. When they rank restaurants by prices ($$ v. $$$), and a restaurant raises restaurant prices it can go from $$ to $$$, which makes expectations of a consumer different and may even turn off a consumer.

The price rankings by those aggregative review sites do not take into account tips and/or gratuities, but if menu prices are hiked to include those gratuities, then they would.

If I wanted a casual restaurant, I might choose a restaurant ranked $$ (before gratuities) but not the same restaurant ranked $$$ (with gratuities included in the menu prices).

Plus, there’s that whole motivation thing. A (discretionary) gratuity like a tip will motivate a server to work “better” or “harder” whereas a flat fee that’s spread across evenly to everyone will not.

Humans. We are our worst enemies.

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I don’t know how much your regular restaurant goer trusts those dollar rankings. Maybe a lot of people take them on faith, but to me these rankings can appear to be somewhat arbitrary.

I’ve seen places I frequent rated $$ that are more expensive on similar items and on average menu, than other places rated at $$$. I’m not sure how those data are collected but I feel that they’re often not very accurate.

So I pretty much ignore the number of $$$ for unfamiliar places, and pop open the menus or order-online tabs to get a feel for costs.

But like I said above, maybe the majority of folks think of them as useful guidance.

It matters enough that restaurants will game the system to hit a certain $$ ranking, sometimes even, ahem, “encouraging” the aforementioned sites to rank them at a particular tier.

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Ah, I see. Thanks.

I rarely use, much less “rely” on places like Yelp/ et al.
the $$ classifications are equally as useless - if I’m looking for a nice sit down dinner, I’m smart enough to ignore places like “Joey’s Bar & Grill”
I’ve seen people trash places I know serve good food / nice menu / interesting ‘oddities’

I use the peer review type sites simply as a shortcut to the places menus.
. . . . and online menus cannot be trusted either - went to a new place, expensive, based on things on the menu I like . . . got there . . . “Oh that’s no longer available.”
the whole www thing was touted as a means to easily keep everyone up to date. rather a lot of resto fail in that regard.

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Have you read the other 97 threads about tipping & do you think people brag about always tipping 25% because they hate it? There’s always a lot of ‘don’t auto-grat me, I want to determine what this service was worth’

The surcharges are mentioned on the website and on the menu, so it’d only a surprise if you don’t read. But yeah, it looks like it’s going to cost less at first glance - that’s what I meant by staying competitive.

I get it.

But you, like many her on HO, are not representative of hoi polloi.

And even someone as astute and attuned to the relevance (or lack thereof) of information, will undoubtedly be swayed unconsciously (even a little) by seeing those little “$” next to a restaurant’s name.

Never judge a restaurant by its name.

Gotham City Bar & Grill was a Michelin starred restaurant.

If there is tipping “required” people prefer to set the amount by themselves. But wherever I lived and talked with friends, colleagues, other guests in restaurants etc. nobody loves tipping but would actually prefer to have it included in the price so that they don’t have to tip at all. I know there were and are attempts of restaurants to do that and they failed so far but that is mainly because only few at a time doing it and then psychology comes in that the printed prices in non-tip restaurants are initially higher even though you pay the same at end. If all restaurants in a large city would all stop using tips and incorporate it into the price at the same time I think people would easily get used to it.


my personal experience contradicts the idea that ‘fees & etc’ are disclosed on the menu.
especially in CA - where 15-30% “fees” showed up only on the tab you were asked to pay . . .
maybe not now . . . things change.
apparently the gotcha’ fees finally attracted the government idiots?

“tipping” although not an exclusive USA “issue” - it is a cultural thing.
most / (all? cannot say, not been to “all” European countries…) have menus that clearly indicate “X% service charge included” -
in Europe, one had very little cause to look for the phase - it was ‘the norm’
how many USA menus state “Gratuity Not Included” ?

and one typically just “rounded up” the the bill - a courtesy to the server more than some indebtedness.
the “round up” stuff was a few pennies. as the value of the prime currency fell and fell and fell, rounding up went to ‘the next 1/2, and then the next 5, whatevers’

USA tipping was 10%, then magically increased to 15%
now magically increasing to 20-25-30-40% - “for a living wage”

waitstaff who intend to make that a career need to refine their skills and people smoozing to a point they can land a job at a resto where a 15% tip results in a living wage.

take note:
a number of restos raised prices to transition from “tips” to “living wage” - and the top end staff left - because they took a horrendous “no tips” pay cut.
mutli-big-namers have since abandoned the no-tip model. quite apparently, “tip income” exceeded the “living wage” thing.
one can make the case that “idealists” are not “realists”
do the math, ask the questions.

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It is highly state by state.

California does not allow a category of workers that have an hourly wage less than state minimum wage; there is no such thing as a tipped worker wage. It is also illegal for a tip to go to anyone else besides the person you tip, you gave the tip to a person, not to the owner, not to anyone else. it is wage theft to require a tip to go to anyone else, and there are plenty of wage theft actions , so employees have the power. if the tipped person wants to donate to their fellow workers they can, but there must be no coersion.

my understanding of the federal law is as yours, but fed minimum wage is very low. state law tends to have precedence.

i think california’s rules are common sense and cause me to tip only for sit down service and only about 10 to 15 percent pretax unless actual exceptional service (eg, talking the kitchen into making off menu dishes that i didn’t ask for but were more fitting my mood than what was on the menu).

i really dislike that it is on me, the customer, to try to figure out the wage laws of each state i eat in. this is making me surlier over time. i still tend to do 20 percent post tax outside of no-tipped-wage states.


If the price is the same, but now you know what it is (the menu price), would that change your habits?

i think it wont change anything when averaging across all consumers. The people who like predictable prices will counter balance the people who are put off by higher menu prices, where most people just remember the bottom line anyway.

We will not really know, though. Restaurants who are having trouble will blame higher menu prices, but it might well be higher prices generally.

This is just depressing as hell- I’m no math whiz but I know fractions, for God’s sake

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A series everyone should see!