Frankie & Benny's staff told: 'We won't rip you off' on tips

'We want our waiters and waitresses to stick with us,' said Danny Breithaupt, chief executive of the Restaurant Group

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The boss of one of Britain’s biggest restaurant groups criticised rivals who charge people to work as waiters and waitresses or remove their tips to make up part of their wages.

“We want our waiters and waitresses to stick with us,” said Danny Breithaupt, chief executive of the Restaurant Group which owns Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito and Coast to Coast. “That’s why we will never take any of our staff’s tips from them. It’s their money and we don’t want them to feel ripped off.”

He said that in an industry which suffers from high staff turnover anyway it was important to treat staff well.

“I’ve worked on tables myself,” he said. “If you give good service you get well tipped and those customers come back. That’s good for the staff and the business.

“Good tips are part of the reason why waiters and waitresses will stick around and that’s good for us because it means we have to spend less on recruitment and staff become more productive.”

Mr Breithaupt also dismissed the idea that restaurants could use tips to make up for the increase in staff costs they face when Chancellor George Osborne’s living wage comes in. “Wages are going to go up by just 50p an hour. Get on with it and pay your staff what they are worth,” he said.

Restaurant Group saw profits rise 10 per cent in the first half of the year to £36.9m on the back of sales 8 per cent ahead at £334m. It lifted the first half dividend by 11.5 per cent to 6.8p a share.

Mr Breithaupt said with up to 48 new openings by the end of the year the group is “well on course to double in size within the next eight to 10 years.”

His comments follow revelations that several restaurant chains use service charges, which are automatically added to customers’ bills, to top up staff pay, but never sees waiters and waitresses’ take-home pay increase on busy nights.

Cote and Bill’s restaurants have been singled out for particular criticism for the practice, with the Business Secretary Sajid Javid calling on restaurants to make sure all tips go to staff, and not the company.

Pizza Express, Zizzi, Strada, and others have been attacked for skimming cash off tips left by credit card – something the Restaurant Group and chains including Wagamamas does not do.