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Heyday: Inventive Food, New Tipping Model

A 15-percent service fee supposedly takes care of tipping—but does it go to the server?


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By Jason DeRusha

First of all: Why aren't you eating at Heyday? Honestly, I ate there Sunday night, and Chef Jim Christiansen's team is putting out some of the most creative, beautiful, and delicious food in the region. From a super-simple kiwi dish (with black olive oil, lemon zest, and a hint of salt) to the rich and creamy chicken-liver mousse tart—holy moly, this food is fantastic.


Photo by Jason DeRusha

You should go and order every single thing in the first and second sections of the menu. The charred asparagus with a spicy green juice! The grilled whole quail served with this spring herb roll! I'm over the moon for it.


Photo by Jason DeRusha

At the end of the meal, you'll get your bill (incredibly reasonably priced—the four of us ordered the four-course menu, where you pick what you want, so we ended up ordering everything on the menu for $64 per person). 

And on that bill, you'll find a 15-percent "administrative fee."

It's delivered with a long letter that lays out the reasoning, saying that the fee serves as the server's tip. But there was also a line for an additional tip, so we asked our (awesome) server if she got the 15-percent administrative fee. She does not.

Servers at Heyday get a $19/hour base wage plus whatever extra tips they get. Our server said that most people leave an extra $5 or so. That's not a great deal for a server at a spot like Heyday, where they try to provide an extremely high level of service. 

This is the future: administrative fees to help restaurants pay a higher "living wage," confusing explanations given to diners who generally don't care, and restaurant owners ending up with more of our money. I'm not blaming Heyday—they're trying to figure this out. 


Photo by Jason DeRusha

I don't have a solution to the debate over tip credit or minimum wage, but this is likely where things will go for restaurants with table service. The fee will be separate, rather than hidden in the cost of the food, and the diner has to make a decision. Will people tip lower percentages knowing they're already paying a service fee? Or will they tip lower knowing that prices are going up to pay servers $15/hour? We opted to tip a little more than 10-percent extra on our bills, knowing that money went directly to the server.

As we transition to new models of compensation and tipping and service fees, just make sure you ask those direct questions of your server. Do you get this money? 

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