A couple of nights ago, Sally and I tried to go to Hopworks. We arrived at about six-thirty, and there was a 40-minute wait (unless the HUBsters catastrophically mis-budgeted, that's got to be great news). So we zipped over to the Barley Mill instead.
As you walk in now, there is a little station immediately to your left that looks like a maitre'd's, with a wee little podium surmounted by a glowing flat panel computer. There's another one in the adjacent room. As we learned from our (extremely gracious) waiter, these are brand-new, and they have the potential to noticeably alter your experience. For the past 20 years, the process went like this: waiters manned the restaurant, and then at the end of the evening, everyone split the tips, including some (all?) of the kitchen staff. (In the very distant past--and maybe this was the case through last week--staff rotated jobs, working in the kitchen some days, and as waiters some days. So sharing made obvious sense.)
No more. Now, as in a more traditional restaurant, your waiter is your's alone. The tips you offer go to her and her alone. In fact, while it may evolve, our waiter said there's no provision now for the lucre to migrate back to the kitchen. What this means is that the bolshevik attitude has given way to a more steely-eyed capitalist mode, where in waiters can boost their take by speed and grace. Our waiter said his tips doubled, which was no surprise to me--he was one of the best I've seen in two decades of McMenamin-going.
I'll be watching and looking to see if this affects service, which has at times been ... lax. You can report back on your experiences as well.