Tres Gatos and Centre Street Café Team Announce Hospitality Surcharge

These Jamaica Plain spots are the latest to take steps toward changing how restaurant employees are compensated.

Centre Street Cafe

Centre Street Cafe. / Photo by Ruby Wallace-Ewing

The ownership trio behind a few happening neighborhood spots in Jamaica Plain are the latest restaurateurs to shake up the longstanding norms regarding compensation for restaurant employees.

Keith Harmon, David Doyle, and Maricely Perez-Alers have announced that starting tomorrow, all diners at Tres Gatos and Centre Street Café will have a 3 percent hospitality administrative fee added to their bills. This fee will be in place when their forthcoming taqueriaCasa Verde, opens this winter, as well. Parties of six or more, private events, and prix-fixe menus will have a 7 percent fee added, plus automatic 15 percent gratuity for service.

The hospitality administrative fees will go toward raises, benefits, and more sustainable work hours for back-of-house employees, who make, on average, two and a half times less than the restaurants’ front-of-house staff, the Tres Gatos team explained in an open letter.

“What was a gap 25 years ago has become an abyss, and it will only continue to widen. We think that within 5 years the majority of restaurants will have adopted some measure to address this critical issue,” the team wrote.

Indeed, Tres Gatos and Centre Street Café aren’t the only restaurants taking steps to level the playing field between tipped and hourly employees. In Back Bay, Select Oyster Bar chef/owner Michael Serpa tacks on automatic gratuity, and Yvonne’s has quietly slipped the a 3 percent back-of-house fee onto bills since it opened downtown this fall in the form of a “Kitchen Appreciation Charge.” The Tasting Counter has rethought the entire bill paying experience with its all-inclusive ticket prices, and all branches of the Clover Food Lab empire have started incrementally raising prices for employees’ benefits. One of New York City’s most influential restaurateurs, Danny Meyer, made headlines when he announced his 13 restaurants will do away with tipping entirely.

The Tres Gatos team believes independent restaurant operation isn’t sustainable with current compensation practices, and today’s announcement is one attempt to right the ship. Read the letter in full below.

Open Letter From Keith Harmon, David Doyle and Maricely Perez-Alers