With the exception of a chef/owner we spoke to who thought our proposal to tip chefs was unnecessary, the other chefs believed that a 5% cut of what the servers receive is a reasonable expectation for what they contribute to our dining experience. As one chef put it, "Busers and food runners get between 4-5%, so the guys in the back sweating their butts off deserve at least 5%."
I was recently in a restaurant in Portland with a friend when I noticed a footnote at the bottom of the menu. It said that customers would be charged 5% to make sure every employee in the restaurant got health insurance and a living wage. The restaurant was packed. Clearly no one seemed to mind. It added up to another few bucks on our total bill.
I've never been happier to pay an extra $3 at dinner. If 5% can change the lives of everyone in the back of the house, why isn't this happening everywhere?
Lee Breslouer writes about food and drink for Thrillist, and thinks journalists should be tipped as well. Follow him at @LeeBreslouer for reasoned economic theory discussions.