Unklescott, and anyone else who may know...do you know if more restaurants are doing this?
There's a new small mom and pop owned restaurant that opened by us. They have a really nice lunch buffet, and I'm usually not a buffet person. It only costs about $18 for 2 people...so the husband and I usually leave a $5 tip because we figure the poor servers probably don't get tips from most people at a buffet. They only have the buffet at lunch. At dinner, it's a la carte from a menu with the server bringing you everything etc.
Our friends went to eat dinner there (where you order off the menu), and it was just the two of them. They noticed that the bill seemed awfully high. When they checked, they saw that 18% gratuity was already added onto the bill. I've heard of that for parties ot 6 or more, but for parties of two? My friend was so ticked off that they have vowed not to return there anymore, 'cause no one could there could tell them why they didn't have the option of leaving whatever tip they felt the server deserved.
Let me just add that our friends are former chefs and servers, so they always tip well, having been in the business and knowing how hard it can be to make a living as a server. They never tip below 20%, usually more. The irony is that if the restaurant hadn't added on the 18% tip, the server would've gotten more from them.
Anyhow, just checking to see if this is a trend... I can understand why restaurants would want a guarantee for a large group, but it doesn't seem right forcing a small group of 2 to leave a certain amount against their will. At that point, isn't it just part of the bill, like the entree they've ordered?