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Photo: Steve Czerniak
“Get Rid of Tipping”
Food and dining editor Martha Cheng makes that case that the current system of tipping in restaurants should be abolished, because of the inequality it creates between servers and back-of-house restaurant workers.
I have read many articles on restaurants and how they run. I must say that I have never been more offended by what was written by Martha Cheng in your 2014 restaurant guide. I have been in the restaurant business for over 20 years working in some of the finest restaurants in Honolulu. The idea that if you want better food you should get rid of tipping is ridiculous. Yes, kitchen help does not get paid well in many places; I am totally aware of that. But you have to know that it is the owners who pay the wages of the back of the house. Servers are the face of the restaurant and must be the ones to control the experience from beginning to end. I have never once seen a cook have to face an angry customer because the food was taking too long or was too salty. They are not the ones who need to deal with demanding or difficult people. The bottom line is: Get rid of tipping and you get rid of the professionals in the business, and you will never find a great restaurant experience.
—Brett Iwanuma • Honolulu, Hawaii
This seems like a ridiculous idea to me. Back of house gets paid consistently, so yes, sometimes servers can make more, if they offer great service. If they don’t, though, their wages often start below minimum, and they’ll make less than back of house, for sure. Not saying back of house is easy or even easier, but front of house is about bending over backward to satisfy customer whims, which are often ridiculous and frustrating. If a server can still provide great service in the face of all that, I think he deserves a good tip. It’s also a way to establish a rapport with waiters and get taken care of as a regular. When I worked in a restaurant, we depended on regular customers a lot. I wouldn’t imagine things would be like that without tipping.
—Will Caron • Honolulu, Hawaii (via Facebook)
I hate mandatory service charges! Just raise the prices, if you must, and if I don’t like the service, I won’t return! The minute I see automatic gratuity, I am turned off. They know they will get their tip, whether or not they earn it.
—Pam Chambers • Honolulu, Hawaii
Prima’s plate of braised breakfast radish, sweet potato, heart of palm, quinoa and mango.
Photo: Rae Huo
“Meatless and Wheatless”
Writer Lesa Griffith explores the dining options available in Honolulu to those who are vegan, vegetarian and gluten sensitive.
Aloha! I am reading the newest edition and found Lesa’s article “Meatless and Wheatless.” I am both. Regarding her review of Simple Joy, she asks the often-heard question, “But why be a veggie if you’re so desperate for animal flesh that you’re willing to eat this foodlike substance?” Ahh, the ignorance of it all! First off, substitutes are not stuff! I have been vegetarian for religious and moral reasons since March 1999. I have no wish or desire to eat blood or flesh of any animal, Lesa. It is just the variety that is joyous. She could call the substitutions a shoe, and it would still be ono, as long as it is not flesh!
—Edwyna Fong Spiegell, Seattle, Wash.