Eating Out

At Last! Restaurateurs looking after their staff by including service commission in the bill.

Newly opened Cru Café in the Cape Quarters is serious about service. To ensure patrons enjoy a superior wining and dining experience, a 10% service commission is an optional addition to the final bill. This positive practice is extremely widespread worldwide, and since Cape Town is an international city, it’s right in line with current world trends.

Cru Café owner, Jacques Castelein, says the same practice was in place at his previous restaurant on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, because it provides incentive to staff to maintain high service levels. “On both the menu and wine list at Cru Café, it clearly states at the bottom that we add a 10% service commission. This is again indicated as a separate addition on the final bill.

However, paying the service fee remains a choice for patrons. If they are not happy with the service delivered, they are welcome to approach management for a reduction or complete deletion of the service charge.”

Jacques emphasizes that the charge is not in any way obscure or hidden. Unlike many restaurants that include the service fee in the menu price, Cru Café has chosen to be completely transparent and indicate the charge clearly on both menus and bills. “We have an excellent restaurant that provides superior service, so I believe the paying public must be clearly informed of the charge. It’s completely honest practice, because we have nothing to hide. I totally disagree with the addition of non-transparent service commissions, because then patrons have no option but to pay it. With us there is always the choice.”

He adds that many foreign patrons presume a service charge is already included in the food and wine price, so don’t tip waiters – which means they go home with little or nothing in their pockets after delivering fine service. Although waiters now do earn a minimum wage, it remains less than R2 000 per month. In addition, the service charge also encourages waiters to know their menu and wine list well, and to be able to offer informed suggestions to enquiring patrons. Jacques says it’s simply a way of promoting and encouraging good service in the profession, and many patrons also add an additional gratuity in recognition of their fine dining experience.

“It’s an extremely positive practice, because diners have a great experience and waiters are rewarded accordingly – and better service in the restaurant industry is promoted. Plus waiters are taxed on this fee, so they also become honest tax paying citizens – making the practice thoroughly honest. It’s a logical way to uplift and change the service industry from mediocre to excellent. And in so doing, waiters also take ownership of the business and realize the importance of teamwork. That’s exactly what we want – for them to stay with us and grow with us, because they are an essential part of the business.”

Cape Quarter Extension, Piazza Level, 27 Somerset Road

Tel: 021 418 6293

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