A group of Simsbury elementary school students got quite a surprise when they looked at their restaurant bill.
They were forced to pay an automatic tip because of their youth.
The young people said they aren’t angry about this policy, they just don’t think it’s fair that children are being treated differently when it comes to tipping based solely on their age.
Dane Peterson and his friend Jacob Howes love walking to downtown Simsbury restaurants after the final bell rings at Central Elementary School.
On Sunday, they hit one of their favorite spots, Iron Horse Pizzeria and Sports Pub.
The boys, who are both in sixth grade, got quite a surprise when they received the bill.
The restaurant automatically puts a 15 percent gratuity on the bill.
“I said aren’t we supposed to factor that in because it kind of threw me off a little bit,” said Howes.
The waitress showed the boys the policy is spelled out right on the menu, a customary 15% gratuity may be added for large parties and grade school customers.
“It’s kind of like profiling because it is just the fact that they’re doing it in grade school kids and middle school kids too because they think that we can’t tip,” said Howes.
The restaurant’s owner Rob Bylykbashi couldn’t go on camera but told Channel 3 he put the policy in place because they have a lot of young customers who fail to tip.
In fact, after a recent half-day, he says only 2 out of 12 tables filled with school-aged kids tipped their servers.
Peterson’s mom Elizabeth understands both points of view.
“That feeds into servers not getting a fair wage in what is customary in how we do things here, so then the other side of it is you can’t just say that all kids don’t tip,” said Elizabeth.
On Monday, after meeting with Elizabeth, Bylykbashi says he understands how the rule could create issues and he is currently revisiting the policy.
Elizabeth and the boys hope the restaurant changes the rule or makes it more transparent than a relatively small note on the menu.
“I think in all things in life if you are up front and you’re clear then people can make their own decision based on that. If you tell them literally when they walk in the door and if the kids decide they don’t want to stay because of the tip then ok, but at least they didn’t feel tricked you never want anyone to feel tricked,” said Elizabeth.
Dane and Jacob say they have no hard feelings and look forward to coming back.
"We love eating there because they have great food," said Howes.
The restaurant’s owner is reviewing the policy and he could make a change as early as this week.
Channel 3 reached out to the Officer of the Attorney General who released a statement saying, “An allegation like this does raise concerns with our office. We would suggest that any consumer who believes they have experienced a practice like this to file a complaint with our office by completing the complaint form on our Website, ct.gov/ag, or calling 860-808-5420."
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