We've all had it happen. If you work in the service industry, it's something you are going to have to face sooner or later. The fact is, at the end of the day, tipping is optional. People don't have to do it unless they want to. People don't have to tip.
In a way, this is partially what makes serving and bartending so cool, the fact that almost all of your income comes from people giving you money because they liked what you did for them. You made their experience better. You cared about them and made sure they had a great time. And it is because of this that they voluntarily reward you by leaving you extra money that they have no real obligation to pay.
This is why most people like the tipping system in america. We servers and bartenders love the feeling of receiving a reward for our services, and it makes the guests happy as well, for getting an opportunity to reward us. No doubt, if nothing else, it contributes to the quality of service you are going to receive when going out.
If you think about it, it's a beautiful system of reciprocity that doesn't have to exist. It would be just as easy to have a system where all restaurants added the same gratuity percentage to every check and we could even pass a law making it mandatory for restaurant guests to have to pay a tip. But, there is something cold about the idea of having standard, mandatory gratuities added to every check, and this is why we don't do it.
Unfortunately, on the downside, some people don't see the advantages of this system. Some people don't feel the same social pressure as others do. Some people only look out for themselves. Some people just don't tip.
Sometimes you don't get tipped what you should. It's just a fact in this industry. It's part of the game. There are good nights and bad nights. You win some, you lose some. It's part of what makes this industry exciting. We all love the thrill of having a killer night, and that can only happen if we have occasional bad nights too.
Most of us have learned to deal with this fact and are amazingly good at shrugging off bad tips. We know full well that letting it get to us could affect the rest of our night. So we curse the table or guest under our breath, accept what just happened, and laugh it off. We find a way to move on, because at the end of the day, you can't MAKE your tables pay you a tip.
Even when a gratuity is automatically added to a check, the table still has the option of having it removed if they don't want to pay it. We all know that this can happen, even if rare, and so we still give our 5 or more tables rockstar service even though gratuity is going to be added to their check. We know that when our tables are having a good time, they are likely to spend more money, and that increases our gratuity as well.
All this being said, what the hell was "La Fisherman" thinking when they locked a family refusing to pay a gratuity inside their restaurant and called the police? I think their motivation was on the right track; I mean, they were trying to protect their servers and teach these people a lesson at the same time.
They wanted to send a message that they don't welcome clientele that isn't going to reciprocate the services they receive with a gratuity. The restaurant wasn't going to lose any money either way, so the motivation had to be to protect their staff, and I applaud them for that, even if it has proven to be detrimental to their business.
The media has since spun this story in favor of the family, televising their bogus sob-story about how "slow" their service was, and how "rude" their server was, etc etc, blah blah blah. Anybody in the service industry can see right through this. This family didn't want to pay the tip because they didn't want to give anyone any money that they didn't have to. It's as simple as that.
La Fisherman is a Service Industry Martyr. They deserve the praise and support of everyone who works in the service industry. For whatever reason, this one particular restaurant in Houston made the decision that enough was enough. They weren't going to let anyone take advantage of their staff anymore. So they did the unthinkable, they locked a family in their restaurant and caused a media circus outside their restaurant.
They voluntarily took on all the bad publicity that comes from news station's who profess to champion "consumer rights". These "news" organizations can be ruthless, and will throw a business under the bus without a second thought, if it helps maintain their image of fighting for the people. They don't care about the real story, but ratings and the approval of the masses.
Some of them have even gone so far as to spin this as a racial issue, and who knows, maybe it could have been, but there's no way of knowing this restaurant only did this because it was a black family. It's unfair to claim or suggest that this was their motivation, when obviously the main motivation was the table refusing to pay the gratuity. Either way, even having that suggested is enough to destroy one's business, and indeed it has.
So I say, even though they were nuts to do it, La Fisherman deserves our praise and support for sacrificing their business for their principles. They made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of their staff, and refused to let them get taken advantage of. They may have been technically wrong to do it, and I wouldn't encourage any other restaurants to follow their lead, but, I have to say, way to go La Fisherman!