Food & Beverage Events Around Town"/>
COMING SOON TO A RESTAURANT NEAR YOU?
The folks who run The Beach House restaurant in Gig Harbor have decided that from now on they're going to figure the tip, not you. Not, perish the thought, because they think you might stiff the waiter; the 15 percent "service charge" they automatically add to all checks is purely in the interest of fairness. It seems some waiters can't be trusted to share their tips fairly with other employees; under the new policy, the house collects the tip (sorry, "service charge") and sees to it that all employees get what the house decides is a fair share.
According to assistant general manager Joe Hardwick, only three of the 2,800 people who've dined at The Beach House since the policy went into effect have complained about it"And they were the same people who complained that our prices are too high." Maybe that's because the other 2,797 diners haven't done the math. The Beach House system adds state sales tax before figuring the 15 percent. It's likely that however you personally figure tips, under the Beach House system you'll be paying $8 to $16 more on a $100 tab.
Granted, there's a loophole: If you feel your service doesn't warrant a 15 percent tip (darn it"service charge"), you can call a manager over and argue your case. You might be allowed some slack; 12 percent, maybe, or even 10. But if you're not the kind who relishes making scenes in restaurants, chances are you'll dummy up and pay what you're told to. After all, does it really matter that much how a restaurant in Purdy, Wash., figures its service charge?
It doesn't, if you don't mind seeing "tip" become "service charge" everywhere you go. If The Beach House gets away with compulsory service charges, it won't be the last to institute them. Up to now, the only restaurants able to get away with such highhandedness have been must-get-into spots like the Napa Valley's French Laundry or Woodinville's Herbfarm; but if nobody protests in Purdy, of all places, pretty soon the battle will be lost in Belltown, too.
BETZ BOWS OUT . . . SORT OF
You'd never know it looking at his FiloFax, but July 31 was officially Bob Betz's last day on the Chateau Ste. Michelle staff. No one will be taking Betz's place as vice president in charge of winemaking research, primarily because no one could match Betz's unique blend of talents as winemaker, wine educator, and as one of North America's few certified Masters of Wine, an encyclopedic repository of wine and vine knowledge. Betz will continue to consult with Ste. Michelle's parent company, Stimson Lane, while overseeing gradual expansion of production of his own wines under the Betz Family label from around 1,200 cases this year to 2,000 or so in 2008.
It's been hot as hell in Europe this summer, but the growers of France's Beaujolais region aren't complaining: The grape harvest began on Aug. 14; that's the earliest harvest in Beaujolais history, and a full 10 days earlier than the previous record set in August 1893. Don't expect to see your Beaujolais nouveau arrive any earlier, though; the big day for worldwide fans of barely fermented red wine remains Nov. 21.