Somewhere within the mayhem of Occupy Philly protestors staging their own mock meeting, and Councilman Jim Kenney handing out Primo Hoagies, City Council managed to pass Bill #110341, better known as the Gratuity Protection Bill or simply Tip Bill. When signed into law, it will prohibit restaurateurs and owners of other businesses where employees rely on gratuities from taking a cut of tips to cover credit card transaction fees. While its viewed as a win for servers, restaurant owners see it as an added burden to their businesses, which are already taking a hit from an economy thats on life support. I dont think City Council members truly understand the reality of it, Marc Vetri told Grub Street. They think theyre doing something good, but servers arent going to make anything more than a few extra dollars a night.
For servers its a few extra dollars a night, Vetri added. But for us, the small business owners, it adds up to thousands of dollars a year.
Councilman Bill Green, who was one of the two council members who voted against the bill, described it as nothing different than a targeted tax increase.
Aside from the added expenses his restaurants will incur from the law, Vetri said what bothers him more is, none of the bills supporters bothered reaching out to him or any other of the citys restaurateurs to get their side of the story.
The issue isnt just the bill, Vetri explained. There was no discussion. City Council didnt ask for our input. They wouldnt even meet with Stephen Starr or take my phone call.
Just as Jim Kenney and Philly Restaurant Opportunities Center cited a weak economy as a reason for taking action on the issue now, Vetri said that the economy is also a reason to create incentives for small business owners. We get them and we open more restaurants and were able to create more jobs, he said.
So whats the next step? Vetri said its going to be business as usual.
I dont have time to fight nonsense like this, he said. Its not the end of the world. Were still out there doing what we do, and trying make the city an awesome place to live.
Tension surfaces between Councilmen Green and Kenney [Metro]