Does Promising a Higher Tip Mean Better Service?

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Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com. Miss a question? Go here.

Usually, tips are something left at the end of a dining experience. But what happens when the promise of a big one is made up front? Should the guest expect better service?

See also: Should Guests Tip for To-Go Orders? Should Tipping Be Mandatory?

I asked a few Valley chefs and restaurateurs this question, and here's what they had to say.

Kirsten Burruel, General Manager, DownUnder Wines and Bistro

I don't believe that it does. If you present yourself well, are knowledgeable about the food, and understand the drinks, you should be the lucky recipient of a good tip! When someone promises a higher tip, it sets me up for failure because I feel the pressure of needing to impress more and don't know what the expectation is. Everyone should get great service from a relaxed and passionate server.

Chris Osborn, Owner, Cadillac Ranch

That can backfire sometimes because some servers are cynical by nature. So I'd say 70 percent of the time it will work.

Cullen Campbell, Chef and Owner, Crudo

No, just being nice and having an interest in what the restaurant has to offer gets you better service than promising a good tip that may never show up anyway.

Aaron May, Chef and Restaurateur

As a restaurant owner, I would hope not. Every guest deserves the same high level of service, regardless of tip. A large tip is the customer's way of rewarding that excellence, but by no means should a bigger tip be required to receive it. At my restaurants, we don't refer to VIPs, we don't tell our staff to provide a higher level of service or to pay more attention to any guest in particular. We might "show some love" with a mid course, a free dessert, or a round of cocktails, but the level of service both in the front and back of house should remain constant.

Pauline Martinez, Chef and Owner, Perk Eatery

It shouldn't, but it usually does -- especially if you're a regular patron. Servers live off of their tips. Isn't Santa nicer to good boys and girls, too?

Dave Andrea, Owner, Brat Haus

No, the person that says that is usually the one that runs you around the most and then finds an excuse to stiff you. Tipping upfront is a different story.

Bernie Kantak, Chef and Partner, Citizen Public House

God only knows, but I'd be pretty insulted if I were a server and someone asked me to take better care of them and flashed some cash at me. Not saying I wouldn't do it, though.

Chef Stephen Jones, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

Not necessarily. There are no guarantees in this business, but most importantly, if a server is thinking that he/she should only deliver their best service for a customer based on the promise of a large tip, they're in the wrong business. Not everyone tips well, but sometimes the biggest tips come from people you'd never expect.

Christopher Gross, Chef and Owner, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge

it should not, of course, but tips are what most servers work for and how they make a living. If a guest said that to a server, you would assume it's someone that feels they are special and need attention.

Eddie Goitia, Owner, Monti's La Casa Vieja

The promise of a higher tip may get you some good service in the beginning. Great servers know that a tip is earned for the entire dining experience.

Chef Payton Curry, Brat Haus

A loaded handshake can go a long way in this business. When I was a young lad in "MinneSnowta" I watched plenty of maître d's jump at a moment's notice to fill a glass or two of Puligny-Montrachet wine. These days it doesn't garnish you much.

Gregg Troilo Owner, British Open Pub

I believe so, as long as the server believes you and you don't come across as a putz!

Romeo Taus, Chef and Owner, Romeo's Euro Cafe

Service is not always what it seems. The guest's expectation of service may be different than the server's. The people that genuinely care that the guest has a great time will do so without a promise.

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