Sunday, January 29, 2017

Not Closed. Oh, No. Don't Even Think That.

I walked by the Bell and Whete a few days ago and noticed a change.  It was closed.  There was a note on the door, detailing how it wasn't closed, but remodeling and "refocusing its emphasis" or something of that sort.  It's due to reopen in the spring.  All I can tell you is that I've been there once and was charged a total of $40 for four very ordinary local beers - and these were happy hour prices.  This included the mandatory 20% gratuity.  Anyone who has read this crappy blog knows how opposed I am to that practice.  I'm all for paying employees a living wage, but tacking a 20% surcharge (and slapping sales tax on that) is gouging.  Since the same operation runs Local 360 and the new Mama's, you get hit up the same way.  Here's the thing: it's not up to me to pay employees $15 an hour.  It's up to the employer.  Those costs need to be built into the prices and not piled on top as surcharges.  Otherwise, it's gouging, plain and simple.  It's not fair treatment to a customer to be automatically charged 20% more than the price listed.  Now, when I was there at the Bell and Whete, the service was fine.  But I also want that to be my decision.  I generally tip 15-20% anyway, but I want to make that my choice.  If the waitperson is inattentive, if they screw up the order or if the food is bad, I want that reflected in the tip.  The last time I was at Mama's (let's be clear - the new one), I had just about the worst burrito in my life - bland, tasteless, and almost cold.  The service was slow and indifferent, but I had to pay the mandatory charge anyway.  Yeah, I felt completely ripped off.

OK, so the Bell and Whete has been around since 2014 and now it's retooling.  My guess is that I'm not the only one who thinks this whole surcharge business sucks.  I'm making it a goal not to patronize any place with that policy.  Maybe another reason for this rethink is that lots of people, myself included, like to go to a place, have a few beers, order an appetizer or two without having to take out a second mortgage.  I just got the feeling when I was there that the same experience could be had either up or down the street for much cheaper and without the feeling of being gouged.    

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