Eating at a fine dine restaurants involves lots of experience and memories that a diner takes home. Highly focused around service where a server, chef and other staffs are busy delivering the best to the table, making service charge not mandatory for restaurants will kill the fine dine business in India.
From fine dining being a place for corporate and bureaucrats meeting has now become a place to have good food with fantastic service and everlasting experience. Though, the industry has come together to battle the service charge discretion asking the government to withdraw the announcement this is really going to create a big chaos in the overall eating out scenario. “In fine dining, a customer should be mentally prepared to pay a service charge beforehand. There is always a mix of clientele in this country, the cultured foodies and the aspiring new lot, hence the arguing lot cannot be ruled out. I see fine dining restaurant's trying to absorb the service charge along with food and raising staff salaries. So we go back to how the pricing concepts were in the pre nineties. Keeping the general Indian mentality where tipping is not compulsory, the service team will feel de-incentivised initially, shares Vineet Wadhwa Chairman & Managing Director - VW Cuisines Pvt. Ltd which runs fine dining restaurants FIO Cookhouse & Bar, adding that a 10 per cent tipping should be a suggestive norm of the industry either by tip or a fixed service charge .
Today, fine dine restaurants are not only improving the food quotient but witnessing the global trend and practices they are going on more ‘casual’ side introducing casual fine dine trend in the market. And, announcements like this will act as a roadblock for such growth. “Food and Beverage industry is one of the highest employers in India. Service charge is vital for the business model and for the employees. Discretion will not only affect the restaurateurs but also the Staff member’s earnings. We do our best to make our Customers happy, the industry has to move towards more guest satisfaction and this might boost the entire scene. We internally however will work out better perk and bonus systems for our employees for their motivation,” says Amit Kapoor, Co founder at Ninkasi.
Adding to the same lines, Pradeep Shetty, Hon’ Secretary, HRAWI & Chairman of legal matters subcommittee, FHRAI & HRAWIadds, “Service charge is the amount paid to the staff of the restaurant or other similar establishments. An establishment may choose to include this amount in the bill itself and the percentage may vary from 5 per cent to 15 per cent of the value billed. This is a common and accepted practice in India as well as several other countries. Service charge is not a government levy, and is not to be confused with VAT or Service Tax,” adding that they regret that the department came out with such an advisory which is misleading and has built a wrong notion about hotels and restaurants amongst their customers.”
Hence, at a time when industry is making waves not only in India but globally, such move will kill the charm.