Pack that calculator away. Many casual Bay Area newcomers like Trou Normand are following in the footsteps of Chez Panisse, The French Laundry and most of Europe by automatically including tip in the cost of the meal, and many established eateries are restructuring to include tipping as well. With rising minimum wages, skyrocketing commercial rents and increased costs for top ingredients, restaurant owners are seeking new ideas for more equitable earnings for all employees. And what does this trend mean for diners? Continued excellence in service, a reduction in post-meal number crunching and, increasingly, WYSIWYG pricing.
Managing Partner Todd O’Leary is a proud supporter of the Lift Up Oakland wage-increase campaign. Brunch, lunch or dinner, the tables of this Rockridge eatery are lined with placards that explain the following: 15% is added to every check to help even out the payment disparity between the front and the back of the house. If diners are moved to do so, additional tips are gladly accepted.
5900 College Ave., Oakland; 510-658-5900
The one-year-old sustainable seafood house on Jack London Square features clam and lobster rolls, seafood buckets, fried fish, keg wine and all gratuity included in the menu price.
336 Water St., Oakland; 510-271-7952
Much fuss has been made of chef Dominque Crenn’s $220 tasting menu and $150 optional wine pairing, making it one of the most expensive dining experience in SF city limits. But if you’re shelling out for the Top Chef star’s sculptural and award-winning menu, then you likely won’t even notice the automatic 20% “guest experience charge” added after the restaurant’s renovation earlier this year.
3127 Fillmore St.; 415-440-0460
This affordable Berkeley Mexican joint is a vocal opponent of the old tip-for-service model. While they hope to incorporate flat-rate menu pricing, they are afraid that the larger numbers would scare diners away. In the interim, they add 20% to all checks and remove the tip line from the bill to reassure margarita-laden diners that the gratuity has already been paid.
2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 510-926-6300
Jumping the bandwagon of East Bay flat-rate dining, this Piedmont farm-to-table neighborhood spot now charges $13 for the zucchini salad with housemade lomo, $16 for clams roasted over coals, and $36 for a grilled rib-eye — tip included, of course.
2301 Folsom St.; 415-282-4663
Bar Agricole and the recent charcuterie-specific newcomer, Trou Normand, are both owned by James Beard-nominated bartender Thad Vogler. Both popular establishments include all service fees for drinks and food in the menu price.
Bar Agricole: 355 11th St.; 415-355-9400
Trou Normand: 140 New Montgomery St.; 415-975-0876
Few restaurateurs have been as outspoken against the tipping system as Jay Porter, who scribed this multi-part blog series that compares observations from a tipping and a tipless restaurant. Rest assured that those visiting this affordable Fruitvale spot for grass-fed burgers, corn dog tots, and draft beer and cider will be (you guessed it) not adding an additional tip to the cost of the food. And when he opens Salsipuedes in Oakland later this year, it will assuredly follow the same model.
3340 E. 12th St., Suite 11, Oakland; 510-500-3338
When this midpriced, classic California-French eatery opened in February, the menu clearly stated that all substitutions are politely declined. It also pronounced that menu prices are all-inclusive, with no additional gratuity accepted.
2704 24th St.; 415-874-9831
Even prepaid dining experiences that eschew on-site billing altogether, such as Lazy Bear and COI Restaurant, are adding a service charge to the ticket price. The 12-course tasting menu adds 20% for all Lazy Bear diners, and 18% for every $200 (or so) COI seat.
COI: 373 Broadway; 415-393-9000
Lazy Bear: 3416 19th St.; 415-874-9921