Tipping Controversy

Junior Burger
2013/09/22 19:38:05
I work in a  coffee shop in a small mountain town. A cook was hired recently to make soups, burgers, sandwiches etc. He stays in the kitchen and makes food and we (the baristas), make coffee and sandwiches as well as pour beer, make smoothies, milkshakes etc. On Friday nights the cook makes a special meal and after diiner there is music of some sort. On these dinner nights, folks come in, order with us at the front counter, pay for their meal and then sit down. We do not have a POS system and so we have to run the orders to the kitchen. The cook makes the food and then the girlfriend of the owner, who is not a paid employee, runs the food to the tables. She clears the plates and then the owners will wash them OR they leave them for the cleaning lady who comes in after midnight. Here comes the problem...The owner told me the other night that for the 3 hours dinner was being served, the 2 barista were to split their tips evenly 4 ways...between the two of them and then for the cook and the girlfriend food runner. I feel this is insanely unfair as everyone paying for their meal pays with the baristas at the register and do NOT tip anywhere near the 15-20% suggested amount. In fact, most only tip on the drinks...like $2-3. I flat out refused to do this as I feel it is incredibly unbalanced and unorganized. I tried to offer scenarios in which I would feel comfortable throwing down a bit for the girlfriend food runner but I said "No way" to the tipping of the cook. This cook, I should add, sits at the bar or goes out to smoke between orders (very often!!) and drinks beer for free! Also, I pour his beers and I have never seen one tip from him even though I never expected it until he started demanding money from me. I live in CA where it is illegal to force the FOH to tip out the kitchen. The owner said he knew that but no matter, he would do it anyway and if I did not comply I could quit, so I did. 
I am not against tipping out but this is not even a real restaurant. It is a small, family owned coffee shop and I desperatly need the tips I make...I bust my ass for them. The cook gets at least $10/hour (not sure, it is a secret) and free beer all night long. Any advice? Am I totally off base here? Thoughts please.
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Tipping Controversy 2013/09/22 21:07:37
You did say you quit.  I'm not sure what else you can do at this point except to find another job. 
post edited by Glenn1234 - 2013/09/22 21:09:44
Junior Burger
Re:Tipping Controversy 2013/09/22 21:35:32
Indeed, I did quit. The reason I am reaching out is because I live in a very small town and the owners are friends of ours. I know I will be in at least one, if not more, discussions about this. I am curious how folks would handle this situation in my place OR the owners place. I worked as a cook in a very popular vegetarian restaurant on the east coast for 7 years and NEVER and I mean NEVER was I offered any tips from the FOH...I had no idea this was even a popular practice. Really, looking for feedback!
Re:Tipping Controversy 2013/09/23 00:34:11
Normally cooks make an houry wage that is commensurate with their skills or abilities. If you, as a barista, make a regular wage wherein tips are not factored in (like the cook) and there are tips then a little tip share might not be so bad. It's like spreading the love around. Sure you're doing more with the FOH and dealing with the people but also remember many cooks come in well before servers, bartenders, etc so their contribution to service might easily be overlooked.

BUT if you make tipped minimum wage as a server would then it would totally be uncool for anyone to require you to offer a portion of your sole income to someone who is working for a much, much higher wage.

There will always be an FOH to BOH thing where both sides don't quite expect the other like they should and often feel like the other side does much less work than the other. Reality is a restaurant would be nothing without servers and cooks so everyone should be understanding of the very different yet mutually difficult positions. Just a Chef's two cents...
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Tipping Controversy 2013/09/23 15:21:04
Let's see now. You quit because the owner was making an illegal requirement. I think you have what is known as a bit of leverage, here. As they are friends of yours (I assume you mean your family's), then make it in the form of a good reference, not standing in the way of your collecting unemployment, etc.
Filet Mignon
Re:Tipping Controversy 2013/09/23 16:04:54
if you are being forced to do what is illegal your in the right place for it! California Labor Dept is VERY active in enforcing those laws when they get complaints--i had great success with them twice--got fired once for refusing to serve a turkey that had been left out all night with stuffing in it---illegal in Calif---and another time when my check at one place bouced OFTEN and we had to hang out at the place till there was plenty in the till and the head wiatress would cash them for us--its illegal to write a paycheck when you KNOW there is no money in the account Cal. Labor board was greawt--and fast--they usually have a rep at any Bept of Human resources office