I spent two weeks in California, visiting restaurants for breakfast and lunch, eating at a restaurant and spending time at a bar.
While the majority of the visits were positive, there were also a few negative experiences, like when the server didn’t show up for a tip, or when I was asked for a coupon or something.
“I thought the person who was trying to get me to tip was the one that was taking my business, but I had a friend who was just doing it because she thought she was being taken advantage of, and it just felt like an attack,” says Samantha Johnson, the executive director of the nonprofit Restaurant Adversity Project.
While restaurant owners and managers often face a backlash from diners who see their restaurant as a place to tip, restaurant owners say the criticism can be overblown.
“It’s not a problem with tipping, it’s just people being upset because they think it’s a business,” says James Wiedemann, owner of the legendary Steakhouse in San Francisco.
“We have a lot of great restaurants and we have people who come in and they know that’s where their money is going to come from.”
Wiedermann says that when a waiter asks for a service tip, he or she is typically not required to give that amount.
“They have a right to their own opinion, and they can make their own decisions,” he says.
But he adds that tipping restaurants can be difficult to navigate.
“You can be a very, very busy person and you don’t want to tip everyone, but it can be hard,” he explains.
“And I think in general, when people see that, they tend to go, ‘Oh, well, what if I’m going to be the bad guy and tip me anyway?'”
The restaurants, like Wiedeman, say they are not trying to profit from customers.
“If you’re in a position of a server, you’re a good person and I respect that,” says Wiedermann.
But restaurants can lose customers because they are less likely to have good reviews, and sometimes their prices go up because they’re offering higher-quality food.
That’s why restaurants are looking for new revenue streams, like online advertising.
“In some places, we see the impact that online advertising can have,” says Johnson.
“What people do is they’re paying for the content and they’re actually trying to make money, which is kind of an odd business model for many restaurants.”
For some restaurants, it can also lead to negative feedback from customers who say they don’t like the food, and are likely to stop coming.
But some restaurants also argue that online ads are a safer and more efficient way to attract customers, and offer a more personalized experience.
The industry has been in a constant state of change.
“A lot of restaurants have gone from having their own restaurants to having a big chain, to having franchised chains,” says Steve McAllister, the owner of The Brass, a family-owned chain in Philadelphia.
“Now there’s so many smaller chains that are just opening up and competing for that customer base.
So that’s what’s happened with restaurants.
You’ve got a lot more restaurants now that are really focusing on their customers, rather than focusing on how much money they make.”
And McAllier says that the online advertising is helping drive that growth, with an average of $300,000 a year in new restaurant openings, compared to $80,000 in the past.
McAlliers advice to restaurant owners: “If it’s an online site, go for it.
If it’s not, don’t go for the site,” he tells ABC News.
“Online advertising is a lot safer, it offers a lot better experience, and the consumer is much more informed about what they’re getting, and that’s a big deal.”
Restaurants are also looking to grow their online presence in the same way they’re growing their in-store offerings.
That means adding mobile apps, like The Brass’ mobile app, which offers tips and discounts on all its menu items.
“When you see the restaurants with mobile apps and you think, ‘What a great idea!’ it really helps to get people to come to the restaurant because they can’t do that on their phone,” McAlliisters said.
“That way, when you’re walking into the restaurant, the customer gets to experience the food and they get to see how they can be better.”
Restaurant Adverity Project is a nonprofit organization that helps restaurants in the United States and abroad find new revenue sources.
The group has also created an app to help consumers better understand what’s happening in their restaurant, called “Restaurant Adversité,” and is also working on a guidebook for restaurant owners.
Restaurants need to be aware of the negative feedback that they receive, but the problem is, they don