Restaurant’s prom policy encourages parents to teach how to tip

INDIANAPOLIS — Between prom and graduation, a lot of teenagers are sitting down to eat in the city’s nicest restaurants and at least one says those kids frequently leave out the tip.

At the Milano Inn, the servers are dishing out, stirring up and handing out a lot of food.

“Last Saturday night, we (served) 400 people,” owner Tina LaGrotte said.

This time of year, though, LaGrotte always sees a trend. Her servers are losing out on tips, especially when it comes to teens.

“Unfortunately most kids are not educated on how to tip when they’re out to eat,” LaGrotte said.

So years ago, the restaurant changed its policy to allow servers to add gratuity to prom tables. Normally, gratuity is only added to parties of six or more.

“We are a prime place for prom,” LaGrotte said.

Mom Elizabeth Englert is not so happy about the policy, though. Last weekend her son Bradley took his date out and ended up paying double.

“We were trying to get out, because we still had to take pictures and we were running late so I just gave him a tip and paid for the bill and left,” Bradley said.

“They should’ve brought the bill and said, ‘We added a tip to it,’” Englert said.

LaGrotte said her policy is for the servers to tell kids that gratuity is included. She stands behind the policy, saying her servers can’t make a living otherwise.

“If the tip isn’t a 20 percent tip then they’re actually paying for you to sit in their seats,” LaGrotte said.

Indiana still keeps servers at the federal minimum wage, $2.13 an hour. In neighboring Ohio, the wage is $3.98 an hour and in Illinois it is $4.95 an hour.

Englert doesn’t like that teens are getting all the heat.

“I just want parents to be aware and teenagers to be aware that when they do go out, they should be treated with respect and check your bill, be sure that you’re not being double-charged,” Englert said.

LaGrotte contends, though, that everyone should learn how to tip early in life.

“Parents need to educate their kids on how to tip when they’re dining out,” LaGrotte said.

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