My sister works at a TGI Friday's and tells me that she brings home about $150 a night in tips. I imagine that she doesn't report all of her cash tips, because many servers do not. This means that she is getting a tax subsidy, and is likely taking home enough cash to equal a $25 per hour wage.
My son in law works as an entertainer for a dinner show in the area, and at this show, there is no ordering of food, as the menu is a preset meal where the only choice is what soft drink you want. He reports to me that the servers get irate if they make less than $100 per show in tips. The venue does one three hour show per night Sunday through Thursday, and two on Fridays and Saturdays. That works out to nearly $40 per hour.
Compare that to the following hourly wages in the Central Florida area:
Registered Nurse: $24
Vending Machine Repairman: $10.50
Theme park ride operator: $8.35
Security Guard (unarmed): $10.55
Security Guard (armed): $13.25
After thinking about this, I am going to amend my tipping policy. If my party is less than 6 people, my tip for adequate service will be 15% of the check to a maximum of $8. I feel like a table that size taking up about 1/3 of a server's time for an hour is worth no more than $8. After all, that works out to a gross of about $29 an hour. More than fair.
For a table of more than six, I will divide the number in my party by the number of servers that are taking care of the party, and pay 15% of the tab for adequate service to a maximum of $8 times that number, on the theory that large parties take up a larger amount of the server's time.
It isn't my problem that her employer or the other patrons don't pay them more. If the server has a problem with that, they need to take it up with them. I am just no longer willing to pay someone $40 an hour to carry food around.