We went to Sakura (AKA Sushi Train) at 75th and Nieman last night. We went a bit later in the evening, and the oval-shaped bar was less crowded than usual.
We sat down to a train full of plates, which got us off to a good start. However, the train emptied rather quickly, and owing to the small crowd, it took a while before the chef made more food.
When he returned, he asked us if we had any requests. We asked for eel (unagi), and he obliged a few moments later with two healthy plates of food.
In response, we placed a few bucks in his tip glass.
We then received our bill, and realized we needed to tip our waitress as well. But what's the breakdown? Between the chef and the waitress, who gets what?
Well, I'm glad I asked.
The hostess/manager explained it thusly:
The money that is placed in the tip glasses at the sushi bar itself goes to the chefs only. The money that is left as a tip upon paying the bill (i.e. anything that doesn't go into the tip glass) is distributed to the servers AND the chefs.
Additionally, the servers are paid by the hour (similar to pretty much any other restaurant) while the chefs are paid a set salary.
Good to know. I'm happy that she was forthcoming with the information. This may not apply unilaterally to all sushi restaurants, but I'd imagine most of them have a similar arrangement.
It's always confusing when there are multiple entities providing service, so it feels good to clear this one up.
P.S. - In related sushi news, the short-lived Asian Breeze at 61st and Nieman is now Sushi Mido. The sign says "All You Can Eat". Should be interesting...we were going to stop there last night, but they're closed on Mondays. Let me know how it is if you check it out before we do.