Kitchen Appreciation Charge/Tipping

Last night I ate at a restaurant where there was a 3% Kitchen Appreciation fee added to the bill. I’m okay with this as my understanding is this charge is to get the kitchen staff a tip-like reward for a good job (and a busy kitchen).

My question is how to deal with the regular service tip in this situation. On one hand, the money is going to different people so reducing the tip by 3% reduces the tip for the waitstaff. On the other hand tip creep is already getting ridiculous. So what’s your opinion, should I be tipping x% or x-3%?

I know this doesn’t answer your question, but I would not patronize a place that did this. If you need to charge more for your food to pay the staff better, that’s one thing, but forcing me to subsidize your cooks as well as your servers? No. I expect there’s some sort of fiscal advantage to a business doing this rather than just raising prices by 3%.

This is extremely odd. Why not just bury that cost in the price of food if they’re going to charge the customer anyway? The only reason I can think of is a type of deception: you look at menu prices, think you’re going to be paying one amount, and then get hit with a higher bill.

I voted tip the server as you usually would. I wouldn’t go back to that restaurant, however.

Don’t some places require the waitstaff to share the tips with bussers and kitchen staff? I would likely tip x-3%

It’s never a fair distribution.

Yes, it’s ridiculous and should be resisted. I’d refuse to pay it unless it was clearly notified beforehand.

I’d tip the server the normal percentage, and never set foot in that restaurant again.

I concur. The theory behind tipping is that having the customer make a decision about an “optional” charge provides the server an incentive to do a better job. There’s no such incentive for the cook, especially if the charge is not optional. And if there was something even slightly wrong with my food, I’d be tempted to send it back to make them earn their 3%.

If I’d already eaten here before knowing the policy, I would tip the normal amount. But I concur with some others that I would go out of my way to avoid eating here.

We had dinner recently at some place that had a 5% “service fee” added to every bill and boy did that make me mad. Just raise your prices already.

It’s like picking up a loaf of bread that’s marked as $3 on the shelf, then getting to the checkout and finding that they have added a 5% charge for “checkout services”.

Or worse, it’s aspiring to the medical billing model, where nobody can even tell you what a routine procedure will cost overall in advance, and instead you are billed for anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of separate line items, all with their own separate profit margin built in. And we all know how well that works for the consumer.

But the other theory behind tipping is that it’s a way for servers to get paid more for working busy shifts when they have to work harder. I’ve never heard of a “kitchen appreciation charge,” but I can at least see it making sense from that standpoint.

Which is not to say I’m in favor of it. If a restaurant wants to pay its kitchen staff more during times when they’re working harder, that’s great, but they ought to pick a different way to do it.

Yup, the only justification for the tipping model is that the consumer is interacting directly with the server, and can directly experience and reward good performance. It’s a wildly inconsistent model, of course, because by tradition it only applies to a small subset of people that you interact with directly in customer service roles.

But one thing is certain - it’s a terrible idea to start applying it to people that you don’t interact with directly. It’s the job of the business owner, not the consumer, to supervise behind-the-scenes staff performance and to compensate them appropriately.

I think a suitable way to mock a 3% Kitchen Appreciation Fee would be to insist on wandering through the kitchen periodically, quizzing staff what they are doing, checking the back alley for people on smoke breaks, etc.

That’s one brave eater.


I’d really object if such a fee was added to my bill without warning, and I would be very vocal about it, but it would be about the subterfuge, not the fee. 3%? That would add less than a double sawbuck to the most expensive meal I’ve ever paid for, including an exorbitant server tip.