Los Angeles does not hide in the dark when it comes to debates about tipping -- this is the city that proudly hosts Republique and its 3% health care surcharge, after all. But as the 'to tip/not to tip/to share tips equally/to not tip but raise prices on food/to be transparent about gratuity and add it as a surcharge...' controversy continues to gain steam on a national level, the City of Angels is once again in the spotlight, thanks to a particular Italian restaurant's latest line item on their receipts.
As of yesterday, Zach Pollack's popular (if noisy) Silver Lake Italian eatery Alimento has begun adding a second line to every receipt, giving diners the option to tip back-of-house staff in the same way they would tip the waitstaff. It's a small addition, but one with big (and equally noisy) consequences.
The idea, Pollack tells LA Mag, is to even the playing field for both front-of-house and back-of-house staff, without necessarily pissing off either. After losing two quality cooks to better-paying gigs elsewhere in the city, Pollack came up with the line-item change and decided to implement it moving forward.
Now, guests have the option to break down their tipping percentage between service staff and the kitchen (dishwashers, line cooks and prep cooks only), or to tip the BOH folks well for a great meal that was otherwise marred by bad service, or vice versa. Or folks could, you know, leave it blank.
Regardless of the inevitable backlash (remember, Alimento is the same place that has people up in arms about paying $2 for water), Pollack is highlighting a long-held gripe within the restaurant community: the disparity between FOH and BOH pay. By accenting this discrepancy and making diners understand the amount of people actually involved in bringing them their next plate of tortellini en brodo, perhaps Pollack is just trying to do is part to move the conversation forward.