Sigh. Just increase prices to reflect the actual cost. No-one adds a "surcharge" when utilities go up, etc........ Tipping is dumb, surcharges are dumb.
Good. More places to go besides Ivars.
@1 THANK YOU. I'm baffled at this notion that I, as the customer have some sort of responsibility to make sure YOUR employees get paid. I'm more than happy to pay a higher price point in order for your employees to maintain a living wage, but putting it as a "surcharge" on the bill is just nasty and does nothing but alienate your clientele. You're the employer. It's your job to pay your employees.
Baffled, huh? I guess you've never gotten auto service, where they charge for parts AND labor. That's been a thing for a while. The only time the customer doesn't pay the employee's wages is when you're buying from exploited labor, or auctioning off your privacy ala Google.
@1 You got it!
Keep in mind that the surcharge does do something simply raising the prices do not: let you know that the service has already been paid for, and there is no need to automatically tip. If you just raise the prices, customers may not be aware of this.
Calling a mandatory tip a "service charge" is bullshit.

Remove servers' incentive to provide good service and you will get servers with no incentive to provide great service. Without great service, there's not much point in eating out at restaurant.

I don't care how good the food is, shitty service renders dining out pointless.

It's also a crock of shit for servers who work very hard to provide the best service they can, but have lazy-ass co-workers.
Yet another passive aggressive restauranteur hurting their business image.
@6 fair point and making it clear is probably necessary because of the tipping culture. But it also, like separating sales tax, sends the message "this amount is someone else's fault"

@4 but in that situation you are billed for (and expect) the labor costs. You don't just choose to give the mechanic some amount of money separate from the payment to the business (and determined by you based on .... based on what? The conventional amount that year, or whether you have a headache, or whether the mechanic was attractive enough?.)
@7 Haha! Wait, what? You only go to restaurants because someone hands you food?
@9 Of the restaurants that have replaced tipping with a service charge, I have yet to see one that doesn't warn the customer before they place their order, so in fact you are billed for and expect the labor costs. And no, you don't give a mechanic some amount of money separate from the payment to the business, because in most business contexts, giving the customer the option to withhold payment for labor based on personal prejudices would be stupid.

@7 "Remove servers' incentive to provide good service and you will get servers with no incentive to provide great service." You know, except all the millions of non-tipped professionals who have no trouble getting motivated for paychecks, benefits, raises, perks, good performance reviews, promotions. Nobody's re-inventing the wheel here.
If I'm a restaurant owner and I raise my prices 18 percent -- and my competitors don't -- 90 percent of my customers aren't going to know that tipping is included. It will just look like my place is way overpriced.

I have no problem with the service charge if it's the first step toward getting rid of tipping completely.
@4 they do it that way at the auto shop because the amount of labor is highly variable and it's very expensive, so people want to be able to see it broken down. The amount of labor involved in bringing you your food doesn't vary enough to warrant it. This is why, for example we don't make a separate line item for labor for cashiers in stores.

Regarding the "incentive to provide good service", I will reiterate a point I made sarcastically in another thread: tipping does not provide the magical feedback the "incentive to provide good service" crowd thinks it does. Leaving a shitty tip basically never sends the message "you would get a better tip if you gave better service," it sends the message "I am a cheapskate, or maybe I'm in a bad mood, or maybe I thought the food sucked, or maybe I miscalculated, or maybe I saw another employee being rude/unsanitary/whatever, or maybe I have ridiculously high expectations about what constitutes 'good service', or maybe someone walked off with the cash I left at the table, or maybe, just maybe, you provided bad service." There are so many ways for the server to tell themselves that the shitty tip isn't their fault that it's a piss-poor direct feedback mechanism.

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