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Shanti Indian restaurants add 4% fee to bills to boost pay of kitchen workers

Shanti, which has restaurants in Dorchester, Roslindale and Cambridge, alerted customers to the new fee in e-mail yesterday:

Beginning today, we're introducing a 4% kitchen appreciation fee to the guest check that will directly benefit our Back of the House (BOH) team. As an organization, we struggle with the disparities between Front of the House (FOH) and BOH employee wages since everyone in the restaurant works equally hard to provide our guests with a great experience.

The kitchen appreciation fee allows all BOH employees to also benefit from the top-line success of the restaurant. They feel the love from you as their living wages increase. Every cent of the 4% goes directly to each of our BOH employees. We thank you, they thank you. We hope that this initiative gains traction throughout and enjoys support from you, our dining community, and beyond.


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Shanti Dorchester is incredible! Soooo good! The best Indian food in Boston. They’ve always produced excellent food consistently adjusted for personal spice levels. I will gladly pay an additional 4% to support the kitchen staff and I wish them continued success.

Voting closed 41

This is a general statement and so have no knowledge of Shanti and business practices, but:

Sometimes these kitchen appreciation fees get distributed 100% to the kitchen in a fair manner, other times ownership/management get their take or don’t distribute it to the kitchen at all. I hope any establishment that charges customers extra money to supplement employee wages (which is a good thing) is also transparent with the the staff and holds themselves accountable.

Also, it’s time to eliminate the tipped minimum wage for servers and bartenders and put everyone on one minimum wage.

Voting closed 56

Yeah it’s funny how deeply ingrained it is in US culture to put it on the customer to pay the servers /bartenders wage . How about pay your damn employees fairly.

Voting closed 112

I wonder this about tips through Toast, Clover and other platforms. How much of that tip is going to the servers (or people at the counter) vs. the general fund.

Voting closed 35

Great! Now they will have the money to pay for the same type of education that the customers have so that they can buy a home and not work in a kitchen.

Voting closed 17

That’s quite an assumption to say that the chefs are uneducated. And how do you know if they own houses or not? WTF? Wrong on so many levels.

Voting closed 71

If there's one thing consumers love, it's an itemized list of fees on their bills.

Voting closed 50

And raising prices to cover that?

This is effectively stealing tips in that people would tip on the increased charge, but won't if there is a surcharge.

Methinks they fear that actually *GASP* paying people will lead to a permanent increase?

I'm really tired of this bullshit - just raise the prices and pay the damn wages already!

Voting closed 21

I went to Trinktisch in Belmont last week and they now tack on 25% which is all inclusive of tip and taxes. Nothing is itemized and you're unable to leave a tip beyond that amount, at least when paying by card.

I'd prefer that method over a list of surcharges plus tip.

Voting closed 29

Paying your employees is an essential part of operating expenses, and all such expenses affect the prices you have to charge. It just seems more simple and honest to adjust prices rather than get dramatic as though this is some sort of social justice thing. Just pay all of your employees a fair wage rather than pretend this is some sort of add-on fee. If the employer wants to explain that this is about paying fair wages, that's fine, but let's skip the "kitchen appreciation fee" language. It seems more like a sales pitch.

Voting closed 85

They just upped the prices and explained that it was necessary in order to get the lowest paid employees up to $15/hr (or whatever, I don't recall exactly).

Voting closed 42

I’d be all for adding 20% to the price and eliminating tips completely. It works in other countries. Japan and China are a couple where I’ve experienced this. It’s always nice to dine without having to figure out how much to pay on your own.

Voting closed 48

I know some businesses that upped their server wages and got rid of the tip jar altogether. Servers say they're very happy with the arrangement, which leads me to think that there are a lot of really low tippers out there.

Voting closed 12

And said it's the cost of business.
Admitting you think you're underpaying your kitchen staff is a different angle.

Voting closed 18

The announcement leaves open the idea of a tip for the server. I infer that tips are still expected for servers. So we have a menu cost, plus 4% addition for back of the house, plus tip for server plus local sales tax of 6.25%. So the cost of the meal is menu + 4% times 6.25% plus 15 to 20% of what? Or would that be (Menu times 6.25%) plus (menu times 4%) plus 15 to 20% of what? For folks who haven't' done that math in a while: the parentheses means that the menu time 4% is calculated before adding to the menu time 6.25%. Or would the Mass tax authority insist that sales tax be calculated on top of the menu plus 4%?

The intention of spreading the wealth is fine. But the solution is not fully baked.

My understanding of a restaurant tip is that it is by older tradition based on the basic menu prices. It is not based on the total cost as that includes the sales tax; I also know that often the tip is actually based on menu price + tax. But now we have an additional 4% added.

A $60 meal might equal:

10.80 (18% tip if based on menu prices)
3.75 tax
2.4 BOH fee if based on menu price
Total: $76.95

So total cost to eat out will be menu price plus roughly 28%. I see restaurant level sticker shock. Maybe the best solution is as mentioned. Eliminate tips. Pay realistic wages.

There is another aspect of tipping that is annoying. Certain stores now have tips jars at the register. Are the counter folks paid minimum wage? If they need tips then the tips themselves are just adding a thin gilt to an already lackluster lillies.

Meanwhile the remunerative distance between executives and high priced specialists (of any industry) from everyone else continues to expand, widen, become more of an economic Grand Canyon than a river to cross.

Forgive the pun: we are eating our own. Fidgeting to find ways to spread the shrinking wealth at the ever widening bottom half to the economic pyramid while the top half looks more like a pyramid suddenly separated with a gigantic Ziggurat shaped step.

Voting closed 17

BOH/FOH employees;
sounds like a relic from antebellum period of america - I already know tipping is, this would be a good time to rethink the entire process.

Voting closed 7