Author Topic: Tipping at catered events?  (Read 3491 times)

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SoCalVal

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Tipping at catered events?
« on: January 30, 2012, 03:13:59 PM »
The Open Bar and Tip Jars thread brought up tipping at catered events.  It never occurred to me that the same rules could apply for the servers of a catered event as a restaurant.  So, for clarification, is the catering staff, as a rule, paid the same below minimum hourly wage as restaurant servers (this is a US question)?  Also, like the rule that one doesn't tip the proprietor of a beauty salon, if someone "hosts" catering events at his/her own home, should that person (or his servers if he has any) receive a gratuity?  There's a meetup I know of where this guy states he loves to cook so he regularly hosts gourmet dinners at his home for $35 a person plus a minimum of one bottle of wine per person and mentions in the meetup that gratuity is not included.  His dinners sound interesting but rather than the dinner hosting he claims to be doing, it seems he's really running a business out of his home.  I've never attended any of his events (the meetup sounded interesting so I joined but $35 PLUS at least one bottle of wine PLUS a gratuity seems really high to me for a meetup that's supposedly not a business transaction -- it used to be $25 and wine optional to share then went to $35 and wine optional then $35 with wine mandatory and mention of a gratuity, unless I'm wrong).



WillyNilly

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2012, 05:15:13 PM »
The Open Bar and Tip Jars thread brought up tipping at catered events.  It never occurred to me that the same rules could apply for the servers of a catered event as a restaurant.  So, for clarification, is the catering staff, as a rule, paid the same below minimum hourly wage as restaurant servers (this is a US question)?  Also, like the rule that one doesn't tip the proprietor of a beauty salon, if someone "hosts" catering events at his/her own home, should that person (or his servers if he has any) receive a gratuity?  There's a meetup I know of where this guy states he loves to cook so he regularly hosts gourmet dinners at his home for $35 a person plus a minimum of one bottle of wine per person and mentions in the meetup that gratuity is not included.  His dinners sound interesting but rather than the dinner hosting he claims to be doing, it seems he's really running a business out of his home.  I've never attended any of his events (the meetup sounded interesting so I joined but $35 PLUS at least one bottle of wine PLUS a gratuity seems really high to me for a meetup that's supposedly not a business transaction -- it used to be $25 and wine optional to share then went to $35 and wine optional then $35 with wine mandatory and mention of a gratuity, unless I'm wrong).

Re: the bolded.  When I worked as a banquet waitress/bartender the answer was yes... and no.

We got paid a check at the end of each shift.  It varied in amount, even though every shift was 7 hours standard (5 hour event, plus set up and break down).  It was never more then $0.25 over standard minimum wage per hour, and as often as not it was less.  The reason was we were officially paid server minimum and then we were paid that "18% service charge" that a customer sees on their banquet bill.  Our wage fluctuated because catering packages fluctuate in cost, so 18% will go up or down based on what the client chose.

I worked the job for about 2 years - not for the great pay obviously, but because of the extreme flexibility.  Since events are held on clients schedules, our bosses didn't make schedules so to speak.  The regular workers would just call on Mondays and ask what jobs were available for the coming week and weekend.  If a job fit when a worker was available to work, great they got put on.  If it was a bad time, they said no thanks and there were no hard feelings.  Great for a college student with a social life!

sparksals

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2012, 06:00:37 PM »
I am am having a catered event for which gratuity is included in the cost of the event, then there will be no tipping.  There will be no tip jars at the bar.  I am paying for the booze, I signed a contract for gratuity included, then it is up to the venue to honour their contract with me to pay the employees the tip they say they will pay.   If I am hosting an open bar, no one opens their wallet for anything. 

As for the meetup, that is a completely different ball of wax.  If people join the meetup knowing the rules and how the group operates, the guy is doing nothing wrong.  It sounds like he spends a great deal of time preparing and shopping for food.  It also sounds like he wants a wine and food event.  He pays for meetup, it is his choice on how to run it.  It is your choice to RSvP no.   $35 for a meal prepared by him sounds reasonable.  It also doesn't necessarily mean he is running a business.  Do you think all the food he prepares is free and doesn't take much time? 

I run a wine and food meetup.  Everyone brings a bottle of wine.  Mandatory.  That is two bottles per couple.  Everyone must also bring a dish to share, usually with a theme.  There is no picking up potato salad at the grocery store deli.  This is a foodie group and everyone puts forth effort to make great food.

ETA:  The gratuity part of the meetup, again, his prerogative.  If people don't want to pay it, they dont' have to attend. 

SoCalVal

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2012, 01:23:09 AM »
As for the meetup, that is a completely different ball of wax.  If people join the meetup knowing the rules and how the group operates, the guy is doing nothing wrong.  It sounds like he spends a great deal of time preparing and shopping for food.  It also sounds like he wants a wine and food event.  He pays for meetup, it is his choice on how to run it.  It is your choice to RSvP no.   $35 for a meal prepared by him sounds reasonable.  It also doesn't necessarily mean he is running a business.  Do you think all the food he prepares is free and doesn't take much time? 

I run a wine and food meetup.  Everyone brings a bottle of wine.  Mandatory.  That is two bottles per couple.  Everyone must also bring a dish to share, usually with a theme.  There is no picking up potato salad at the grocery store deli.  This is a foodie group and everyone puts forth effort to make great food.

ETA:  The gratuity part of the meetup, again, his prerogative.  If people don't want to pay it, they dont' have to attend.

Thank you for providing your input.  However, I think this part, "Do you think all the food he prepares is free and doesn't take much time?" was a bit snarky and unfair just because I'm questioning the meetup.  I've been in foodie groups, too, and they've never been run this way in my experience.  I know of one popular gourment one in my area where no gratuity has been requested on top of the cost of the meal, and I think it's a perfectly valid inquiry and makes me wonder -- hence, that is why I'm posing the question.



lowspark

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2012, 11:04:17 AM »
Maybe it's just me, and maybe it depends on where you are geographically, but wow! For $35 plus the cost of one bottle of wine per person plus gratuity, I could have a pretty nice dinner out at a nice restaurant. What exactly is he serving that warrants a $35 price tag? And honestly, I love my wine but I think expecting people to drink a whole bottle each is a bit excessive. Are people driving home after this? I have to think he's making himself a rather nice profit on this deal. Unless there was some other compelling reason for me to go to this meet up, I'd probably opt out.

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 11:08:59 AM »
If an event is truly a hosted event, then guests should not be expected to pay a grutuity.  And while unfortunate so many servers seem to be getting unfair wages, I'm not sure how a guest (or even a host) is expected to know the employment negotiations for the caterer or event place. 

The meet up scenario you describe is not a hosted event.  The man is coordinating an event.  It sounds like each participant is expected to pay their portion of the cost of food, wine, and service.  Depending on the type of food served & the number of courses, $35 sounds reasonable.  We used to belong to a neighborhood dinner group and ten years ago it was $30 per person plus each person brought wine.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 11:15:04 AM »
OP, for the meetup, a gratuity seems off to me.  If he is 'hosting' these events at his home then I feel he should be responsible for paying any servers he chooses to hire, with those costs included in the price charged.

A bottle of wine per person is also off for me, as I won't have more than a glass or two (1/2 bottle) over the course of an evening, if I'm driving.  It seems weird to me that he would want the guests to bring wine as I would think he would want to pair the wine with the courses he is serving.

So personally, I wouldn't participate in this particular meet up.
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sparksals

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2012, 11:44:32 AM »
As for the meetup, that is a completely different ball of wax.  If people join the meetup knowing the rules and how the group operates, the guy is doing nothing wrong.  It sounds like he spends a great deal of time preparing and shopping for food.  It also sounds like he wants a wine and food event.  He pays for meetup, it is his choice on how to run it.  It is your choice to RSvP no.   $35 for a meal prepared by him sounds reasonable.  It also doesn't necessarily mean he is running a business.  Do you think all the food he prepares is free and doesn't take much time? 

I run a wine and food meetup.  Everyone brings a bottle of wine.  Mandatory.  That is two bottles per couple.  Everyone must also bring a dish to share, usually with a theme.  There is no picking up potato salad at the grocery store deli.  This is a foodie group and everyone puts forth effort to make great food.

ETA:  The gratuity part of the meetup, again, his prerogative.  If people don't want to pay it, they dont' have to attend.

Thank you for providing your input.  However, I think this part, "Do you think all the food he prepares is free and doesn't take much time?" was a bit snarky and unfair just because I'm questioning the meetup.  I've been in foodie groups, too, and they've never been run this way in my experience.  I know of one popular gourment one in my area where no gratuity has been requested on top of the cost of the meal, and I think it's a perfectly valid inquiry and makes me wonder -- hence, that is why I'm posing the question.

No snark intended at all.   The point is, meetups are privately run groups and  full of anything and everything.  The meetup owner pays for the meetup via annual fee paid semi annually.  It is not cheap.  It takes time to organize events, deal with RSVP no shows, flaky people etc.  He obviously enjoys cooking and wants to do it for the members of the meetup.  Just because one meetup doesn't 'suggest' gratuity doesn't mean another can't.  The joy of Meetup is you can choose to join or not. 

Shoo

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 11:48:08 AM »
Is the guy who prepared and served the food a part of the foodie group?  Or was he hired to cook and serve?  If he is a member of the group, I don't think he should be tipped.  I don't think he should be looking to turn a profit and make money off of his friends.  And a bottle of wine per person?  I find that to be excessive and it makes him seem like he's trying to line his pockets AND his wine cellar.

sparksals

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 11:48:39 AM »
OP, for the meetup, a gratuity seems off to me.  If he is 'hosting' these events at his home then I feel he should be responsible for paying any servers he chooses to hire, with those costs included in the price charged.

A bottle of wine per person is also off for me, as I won't have more than a glass or two (1/2 bottle) over the course of an evening, if I'm driving.  It seems weird to me that he would want the guests to bring wine as I would think he would want to pair the wine with the courses he is serving.

So personally, I wouldn't participate in this particular meet up.

Meetups aren't hosted.  Meetup is a website where you can join the choice of literally thousands of groups in your area from knitting to wine and food.  It is a method to meet people with similar interests.  We used meetup to make friends when we moved here.  Meetup events are typically potluck, byob events if they are in someone's home. 

Now, we have made some friends from the meetups that we see outside the meetup.  Events we have outside of meetup, privately, not posted on meetup are typically hosted.  But those are completely different.  We met the people on MU, but dont' always have events on the site... if that makes sense. 


sparksals

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2012, 11:58:41 AM »
Is the guy who prepared and served the food a part of the foodie group?  Or was he hired to cook and serve?  If he is a member of the group, I don't think he should be tipped.  I don't think he should be looking to turn a profit and make money off of his friends.  And a bottle of wine per person?  I find that to be excessive and it makes him seem like he's trying to line his pockets AND his wine cellar.

He is not just a member of the meetup group.  He owns it.  It sounds to me that he wants to have a wine and foodie group and to attract people who enjoy wine with a fine meal. 

There are many owners of meetups who charge a fee to be a member or to go to an event.  The reason is to offset the $150 annual fee for the MU group and to encourage people not to be flaky with their rsvps.  If this guy is opening his home, cooking a gourmet meal and say, 10 people attend, I don't think $35 is unreasonable at all to charge.  That most likely includes appetizers, main and dessert.  When I do major meals it takes me a great deal of time to shop and prepare.  Then cleanup after. 

At our wino events, everyone brings a bottle of wine and they are on the table for everyone to try.  There is lots, I mean LOTS of food.  I don't charge gratuity, but I never had to charge anyone either b/c I have a very strict RSVP policy that people respect.  My group is a bit different - it is more intimate - usually about 16 ppl and there is always a waiting list for each event.  They are held in member's homes and the host determines how many they can accommodate. 

Other meetups, like the wine group my friend runs, is a bit more ...hmmmm... superficial?  The people there are not necessarily interested in making friends, per se, but they enjoy going out and trying new wine.  She charges $5 to attend each event (paid at the yes rsvp via paypal) b/c this group is much larger than mine, typically 50 odd people go to each event, they are held in public places or party rooms requiring reservations and sometimes a fee.  Charging the fee makes people accountable for their rsvp. 

I certainly hope the meetup owner in the OP charges in advance to hold people accountable for their RSVP.  He could be cooking for 10 yes RSVPs and then only 6 show up.  Yet he cooks for 10. 

It doesn't sound to me he is running it as a business.  I think he is just recouping his costs.  If the meal is great, I would have no problem tipping a few bucks.  He opened his home and spent a great deal of time cooking et al. 

WillyNilly

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2012, 12:10:23 PM »
If an event is truly a hosted event, then guests should not be expected to pay a grutuity.  And while unfortunate so many servers seem to be getting unfair wages, I'm not sure how a guest (or even a host) is expected to know the employment negotiations for the caterer or event place. 


In the other thread I mentioned I always tip at open bar events and weddings, etc.  And upthread I explained my experience with working such events.

I agree a guest should not be responsible for or expected to know about wages.  But I tip precisely because people don't know how catering staff salaries work.  Many people think the "service charge" on a catering contract is a "tip" but its not.  Its paying the salary of the workers, not above and beyond their salary.  Also many people assume if they tip the banquet manager or waitstaff captain that means the tip will trickle down, but it does not, it stays in the hand it was handed to.

I guess I could go around asking hosts if they are aware of these things, or informing and educating everyone... but it seems easier to discreetly slip a waitress or bartender a fin.

Its definitely a problem that shouldn't exist, its wrong, its tacky, its unfair, its all sorts of negative stuff, but it also is what it is.  It's a problem that does exist so I do my little part to off set it.  Not as an insult to my host, but simply because its quick and easy and something I am able to do (I don't expect every guest should - I know when I was a waitress $5-10 in tips in a 7 hour shift was awesome, I never expected it and certainly never begrudged the amount).

At my own up coming wedding I have already discussed with the best man that we'd like him to handle waitstaff tips - he will be given a stack of $5's and will be responsible to getting on in the hand of each waitstaff and each bartender.  (He's thrilled with this idea - he works as a bartender himself and believes in tipping often and generously so he likes the idea he'll be seen as the "tip guy".)  While I like my caterer so far in no way to a trust they'd distribute tips evenly like that.

sparksals

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2012, 01:16:39 PM »
I don't have a problem if a guest tips discretely in the fashion you describe.  I object to a tip jar if I am hosting an open bar. 

WillyNilly

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2012, 01:31:36 PM »
I don't have a problem if a guest tips discretely in the fashion you describe.  I object to a tip jar if I am hosting an open bar.

Oh I absolutely agree!  Tip jars are awful.

Actually tips jars, IMO are awful anywhere, hosted or not, normal tip situation or not.

Judah

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Re: Tipping at catered events?
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2012, 01:48:16 PM »
Oh I absolutely agree!  Tip jars are awful.

Actually tips jars, IMO are awful anywhere, hosted or not, normal tip situation or not.

I agree with this completely.
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