By Alex Wrethman, founder & CEO of Charlotte’s Group (pictured centre)
Most of my most cherished childhood memories are at the table with my parents, family or friends either in our homes or in our most loved restaurants and cafés. Later, as a 14-year-old boy I would walk the long way home from school to look through the window at Charlotte’s Place and observe the staff at the table laughing and sharing a meal before evening service like a family. I became fascinated by the communities that evolve around hospitality businesses and the sense of belonging and even purpose they can engender in so many.
It is perhaps no surprise therefore that I have devoted the past 20 years of my life to working in hospitality; first as a dishwasher, then as a chef, bartender, waiter and now as an independent restaurateur. When not working, I spend most of my time (and money) seeking out great places to enjoy wonderful food, drink and great hospitality provided by others.
So, why is this relevant? Well, whether with my staff, customer or business owner’s hat on; and whether you refer to tips, service charge or gratuities; I sincerely believe that we all share the same core belief that the extra bit of money we hand over on top of what we pay for food or drink provided, is intended for the reward of the staff who have offered us that great hospitality. When I pay a bill I too would like to understand where that money I am handing over is actually going and I don’t necessarily feel comfortable interrogating a waiter over it.
And this is the point. I believe that any ethical business should be comfortable to make a clear written declaration of how this money is handled, present it in a consistent easy-to-understand format, and make it publicly available so that all who care about this issue are empowered to make an informed choice about where they spend or earn their money.
So just to be 100% clear. I am not trying to tell anyone the best way to run their business, treat their staff or spend their money – all I am asking for is transparency. And whilst it may be independent restaurateurs who lead the way, like the great Trevor Gulliver and Ossie Gray who I was honoured to see at our Tipping Point workshop, it is critical that all hospitality businesses, including the multiples and corporates we often fin more difficult to hold to account, show their hand and participate in this transparency so that we have a level playing field – it must be mandatory.
So it’s cards on the table time. We are asking the government to make it compulsory for all restaurants to reveal their tipping policies by completing the Tipping Point Campaign Declaration. We urge you to support the campaign by signing the petition at www.tippingpointcampaign.org.uk and help spread the word across social channels using #TippingPointCampaign before the government consultation closes on 27th June.
Will you support our #TippingPointCampaign?