Dublin’s Ivy restaurant gets tangled in very public row over tips and waiting staff

Management accuses waiting staff of ‘deplorable greed’ for not sharing tips

The Soho landmark and celebrity favourite, The Ivy, is getting a sister restaurant on Dublin's Dawson street.

 

A row about how tips are handled has developed at the high profile Ivy restaurant in Dublin, following management accusing some waiting staff of “deplorable greed” in asking customers to leave tips in cash rather than putting them on a card.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times, with food-related articles in all our sections, plus reader events, competitions and exclusive content at irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times, with food-related articles in all our sections, plus reader events, competitions and exclusive content at irishtimes.com/foodmonth

A management notice to staff saying waiting staff were no longer allowed to handle payments was sent to the Liveline radio programme on RTÉ One this week.

The Dublin incarnation of the famous London restaurant opened on Dawson Sreet in July, amid much publicity and hype. The notice that has been made public by a member of staff said due to the “continued inability of those taking card payments to follow procedures and consider the whole team here,” there was “no bonus payments for front of house members to share”.

The directors had decided to take control of this, the notice says, and states in bold type that “from Monday NO WAITERS will ever be allowed to take any payments from guests, there will be a password on the credit card machine and the managers will take all payments, without exception.”

Later it reiterates: “No team member is to ever handle cash or card from a guest”.

Staff who do not follow this will receive “immediate and swift disciplinary action,” the notice says.

The writer of the notice to staff expressed disappointment at the “continued bad manners our wonderful guests are shown by consistently being asked for cash,” and was most angered that “all the runners, bar backs, bartenders, cocktail waitresses who make waiter’s jobs possible have received nothing”.

This was a “very disappointing result for us, as we should be a leading light in our company as we have such a wonderful team but instead, we are the headache they have to deal with.”

The situation was “unacceptable to us as managers, our bosses and most importantly our owner.”

Liveline posted a photograph of the staff notice on Twitter.

The change in policy on card payments would “allow us to get our bonuses back for all front of house and will stop the deplorable greed being shown to guests by those who request cash”.

Management will give 75 per cent of cash left at the table to the waiter who managed the table and 25 per cent to the other front of house staff “as agreed, as it is also clear that this has not been happening either,” it added.

Liveline’s Twitter page says staff told the programme all they did was tell the truth when customers asked who got the money from credit card tips.

The Ivy Restaurant on Dawson Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
The Ivy Restaurant on Dawson Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

The radio programme said that a statement from the Ivy explained that when a tip is paid by credit card, it goes towards a shared gratuity per hour that all restaurant staff - including front of house, bar staff and kitchen porters - receive.

“This is paid in addition to their hourly wage and is guaranteed by the company in that the company will make up any shortfall and is, therefore, regardless of whether any tips are paid by patrons.”

The public row and debate about how customer tips are handled at the restaurant comes on foot of mixed reviews of the hotly anticipated restaurant, which offers all day dining.

In her Irish Times three-star review of the flamboyantly decorated Ivy, Catherine Cleary concluded “nothing on the plate in this competent place will distract you too much from the gossip and the people watching”.

The issue of how management and customers handle tips and service charges from customers is perennial and fraught.

In a discussion with callers after the story on Liveline, waiting staff in other, unrelated restaurants, and customers who left tips for staff, recounted incidents where other restaurants don’t fully pass on tips left by customers, which staff have sometimes told customers when they asked what happens to tips.

Another, smaller, neigbourhood restaurant said cash tips are a matter between staff and customer, and his management does not get involved.