Golden Will Abstain From Vote To Add Service Fees On Catering Bills, Cites Family Biz

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At a catering hall after a great party, generous patrons can dole out more than 20 percent in tips. A new bill, sponored by Long Island-based State Senator Jack Martins, would allow eateries to tack on an extra 20 percent in service fees, a charge that would be completely separate from the customary tip and that would not go to waitstaff.

The bill says that establishment owners must, however, state that the additional service charge is not the tip for waitstaff.

That could be of interest to local State Senator Marty Golden, whose wife manages a Bay Ridge catering hall owned by his brother. According to the New York Post, Golden met with Martins to ask questions about the proposed legislation.

“Marty did come and ask me about it,” Martins told the Post. “Certainly, he’s very supportive.”

But, following inquiries from the paper, Golden said he’ll abstain from the vote on the new tips bill and said he was only educating himself when he spoke to Martins.

In the past, caterers were allowed to charge a “service fee” for their overhead, separate of any gratuity payments. The Department of Labor agreed that the extra charge did not include gratuity. Later, a 2008 court decision later defined “service fees” as tips and called for six years of retroactive tip sharing.

The wait staff at Sweet 16s or Bar Mitzvahs can make anywhere from $11 to $16 per hour, so they are not solely tips based. This bill could discourage patrons from tipping waitstaff on top of mandatory service charges.