I was watching a restaurant review show recently where they discussed a Kansas City Steakhouse that I have written about a great deal lately. One of the reviewers said something very interesting. She stated, “For the prices I was paying I felt like I should have my own server.” I found this statement very interesting. She was not complaining that the service was inadequate. She felt that it should have been even higher based on the prices she was paying (which are around $35 per person at dinner without drinks).
If you have ever worked at a fine dining restaurant, you have probably encountered this attitude. If you dine at them, you might have even felt this way. There is a gap between the expectation of service at a casual dining restaurant and fine dining. This is understood. The difference in price makes the dollar amount of the tip at the same percentage much higher. The question becomes what expectations also adjust the percent. It is as if the established a percentage based system at casual dining restaurant becomes an algorithm when applied to fine dining. This is what I call the fine dining servers conundrum.