The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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Opinion

November 17, 2012

Restaurant workers may get short end of the tip

---- — Think your boss is a jerk? It could be worse. You could work for John Metz or one of the other “job creators” who’ve decided to punish their employees because their guy lost the election.

Metz, a Florida businessman who owns a string of restaurants,  announced that he’d be adding a surcharge to guest checks to cover the cost of Obamacare and cutting back his employees’ hours to avoid actually complying with the law.

“If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare,” Metz said, according to The Huffington Post.

Actually, customers have another choice: They can stop patronizing Metz’s restaurants. I’ve never been to a Hurricane Grill & Wings, the chain of eateries that Metz franchises, but I can say with some conviction that I never will.

That’s not because I love Obama or Obamacare so much, but because before I joined the journalistic fraternity I made my living tending bar and waiting tables. It was hard, dirty, sometimes degrading, work that paid sub-minimum wage. The only real upsides were the food, the lessons I learned about life, and, of course, the tips.

In the mind of most people, tips are a reward for good service. Customers understand they should leave something for the server, but what that is depends largely on their sense of social obligation and level of satisfaction.

Almost everyone knows that they’re expected to leave 15 to 20 percent of the bill on the table. I know, grandpa, it used to be 10 percent, but times have changed. And considering what your typical waitress or waiter takes home in hourly pay, they needed to.

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