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Captain Tip vs. Server Tip

Posted by gratrueities on November 2, 2008

Update to this Post: There is an interesting conversation on this topic over at Yelp.

Earlier this week I was in NYC on business and organized a dinner for four with clients. We went to Shun Lee Palace, one of my favorite top-end Chinese restaurants on the Upper East Side. Perhaps not the most chic dining establishment in NYC but overall good food and usually enjoyable.

We ordered a nice meal, appetizers, entrees with wine and shared the meal in the traditional family style of most Chinese restaurants.  Everyone enjoyed it; the food was very good and the service was quite good—standard for this restaurant. The Peking Duck was exceptionally good; crispy, shredded table side and wrapped in thin Chinese pancakes.

I had arranged in advance for the check to be delivered to me as I was hosting the dinner. When it arrived, I was surprised to see spaces for both a Captain Tip and a Server Tip. I hadn’t seen these “dual” tip line arrangement in quite some time. It seems like most high-end restaurants have abandoned it the practice. It seems a bit old-fashioned to me.

And, of course, it complicated the whole tip situation. I believe the proper way to handle this is to split the tip, so that the Captain receives a portion and the Server receives a portion. For instance, when leaving the 20% tip, the captain receives 5% and the waiter 14%.  Honestly, it does seem like  a lot  of math, especially for the end of the evening and after a glass or two of wine.

So. I took the easy way out and just calculated my standard 20% tip and wrote it into the middle of the two open spaces, leaving it to the Captain and the Server to split however they prefer.

What do you think about this practice of splitting out the Captain tip and the Server tip as separate line items? Do you think, like I do, that it is a bit old-fashioned, and maybe better for all concerned for restaurants to keep it simple?

P.S. The image for this post is Captain Cook, get it?

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