We enter a restaurant and we tip the receptionist for getting our group a great table and we tip the waiter for giving good service. But we generally don’t tip the back of the house staff because, well, it isn’t done – at least, not by everybody else we know so we don’t do it either. We don’t tip them whether we’re at Logan’s Roadhouse, a place where steaks are king, or at IHOP where pancakes rule the menu.
Here’s the thing though: We think that they also deserve tips, perhaps even more so because they prepare the food we eat! You may initially find it awkward but you will likely find that many restaurants actually have a tip policy in place where the back-of-the-house staff actually have a take on the tips.
But we must also say that a qualified statement should be made. We think that the higher-ups in the back of the house, particularly the executive chef and the sous chefs, shouldn’t have a take on the tips for a good reason. Both the executive chef and their sous chefs are usually well-compensated, from their higher salaries to their separate family meals and bonuses, perhaps even a share of the profits.
Instead, we think that the staff at the back of the house that earn between $10 and $12 an hour deserve tips, too, just as the servers have been taking tips. These include the line cooks, the prep cooks, and the dishwashers, all of whom are crucial in the preparation of the dishes from washing the vegetables to washing the dishes. Here are the reasons why they deserve tips, too.
The Back of the House Staff Has Static Wages
Did you know that chefs make about $12 per hour as a median wage? This is according to a report issued by the Economic Policy Institute, and it’s something that should make you cringe considering that it puts chefs under the poverty line. Yes, under the poverty line and to think that most of them have to undergo expensive training in culinary schools.
Granted, of course, that restaurants workers earn $10 per hour as a median wage. But remember, too, that the back of the house staff have a static wage – their salaries will not change regardless of how busy or slow the business at the front of the house is. In contrast, the overall take of the bartenders and servers can increase during busy days and when they perform their jobs well, not to mention that guests are most likely to tip them than to think about the staff who prepared their food.
The Back of the House Staff Performs Critical Work
There’s also the sad fact that chefs and other back of the house staff work between 8 and 10 hours, from before the restaurant opens to after it closes its doors when the last guest leaves. The back of the house staff has to clean the kitchen well after the front of the house staff has gone home, perhaps to work in other jobs, too. But they will likely make half the amount that their front of the house counterparts, particularly the servers and bartenders, will make in the latter’s five-hour shift.
Bartenders and servers, of course, don’t have easy jobs either, whether they work in greasy joints or in upscale restaurants, since there will always be obnoxious guests. But when you come to think of it, the back of the house staff are exposed to more job hazards, from being surrounded by sharp objects to being in a hot environment nearly all day. Most, if not all, kitchen staff will experience burns, bad backs and other injuries on a normal day on the job.
Yet, their wages are static and they remain unappreciated by the guests! For this reason, it makes sense to give them tips, a form of reward for a job well done even when it’s the kind of job that the guests will not actually see being performed.
When you give tips to the back of the house staff, your dining experience will also improve. The staff will be motivated to work better to provide the best dishes for you and your guests, even work in better harmony with the servers to ensure that your food arrive sooner to your table.
How can you tip the back of the house staff? Now, we must admit that this is a tricky question considering that it isn’t a common practice. But you can start by asking the manager about the restaurant’s policy for tipping the kitchen staff and following it, if there’s any, such as when the tips are pooled to be shared by everybody.
You may even find a few restaurants that adds on a service charge, anywhere from 5% to 10%, so you don’t have to tip the staff. The service charge will likely be used to ensure that every worker in the restaurant is provided with a living wage and health insurance – but you can ask, nonetheless, what it’s for.