From the end of January 2017, the prices of dishes will include 13 per cent service charge on average, with no separate service charge appearing on the bill at the end of the meal.
This change will be mentioned on the menus and the bills, making it clear to customers that no further payment or top-ups (either of the usual service charge, or extra cash tips) are expected or needed.
The chef said that he had made the move to remove the ambiguity between a service charge and tips, following last year’s controversy over UK restaurant tipping, with diners reportedly unsure about the difference between service charges and cash tips, and about whether the company or the individual staff receive the money.
A service charge is usually at least 12.5 per cent of the bill, and optional, with optional tips added as extra in cash on top of this, with the latter often intended by customers for staff to pocket directly. The restaurant had previously operated in line with the British Hospitality Association’s Code of Practice, which recommended adding a discretionary service charge on all diners’ bills, separate to a tip.
Roux Jr said: “There is too much ambiguity between service charges and tips, so I have taken what may be seen by many in the industry as a bold decision to go ‘service included’.”
“Hopefully others will join me in making it clearer for the public to understand what they are paying for, and this move will also ensure there is complete transparency for our front of house and kitchen teams.”
The move comes soon after Roux Jr apologised for paying his staff less than the minimum wage, after The Guardian newspaper discovered that many Le Gavroche staff had been working many hours more than they should – over 65 hours per week ‒ for just £19,000.
The Sustainable Restaurant Association – led by Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc ‒ called the payment levels “simply not acceptable”, but the chef has since apologised, and confirmed on Twitter that staff working hours would be monitored more closely and cut, that staff would be paid at least the minimum wage, and anyone still due extra money would be paid “retrospectively” as well.
Michel Roux Jr is part of the Roux family culinary dynasty that also includes Albert and Michel Roux Sr, as well as Alain Roux, who oversees the three-Michelin starred Waterside Inn in Bray. The family also spearheads prestigious competitions such as the Roux Scholarship, and seeks to further the culinary education of young chefs, while Roux Jr has a popular media career, regularly appearing on national television as a presenter, contributor, and panellist.