I have been working at the same family restaurant for the past two and a half years. I won't say exactly what my rate is, but I will say that it is very close to what the original poster was talking about working for. This is for a few reasons.
When I first started looking for work in restaurants, it was very difficult to get anywhere to consider me unless I would work for tips only, which I refused to do. I live in an area with a ton of chain restaurants everywhere, but virtually no privately owned restaurants. The very few private restaurants in the area are all extremely high-end, which would do me no good. My target audience is families since I do a lot of family parties, birthday parties, etc. Over the past couple of years my restaurant gig has yielded many private gigs in that respect.
The first restaurant gig I ever had was at a local pizza hut, working minimum wage + tips, for a total of nine months. This gig was not fun and I wouldn't recommend it, but it gave me something to put on my resume for future restaurant gigs. It also gave me experience that would prove valuable for when I booked the gig that I still have today.
Now, keep in mind that before settling on this family place, I tried many other places in the area. I pitched myself very very well, and the reaction from management was virtually the same every time. The general manager would be really excited to hire me, understanding the benefit of my performance. However, they would quickly change their tune after asking for my fee. I started out asking for $100 per night, then lowered it to $75, all for a three hour night. I was told by manager after manager, that they could never afford to pay someone that much, and that they would never get approval from corporate. Most of the places said after talking with their regional managers, that they could only allow me to work for tips.
Finally one place agreed to pay me what they pay their hosts, plus tips. It was the best option I had been offered so far, and I continued looking even after this restaurant, to no avail. So that is where I have stayed for the past two and a half years. It isn't great money, but it has gotten me a lot of outside private gigs. And it is still a steady job, which in this economy, is not easy to secure. Now keep in mind that I am a college student, and I'm sure that people like Paddy and others who are doing this for a true living will need to work for privately owned places, in an area where they can get paid a lot more. I am only a part time magician, and a full time student. But I don't think that I have hurt the industry or anything like that by working for cheap. I have never told anyone how much I make at the restaurant, and no other restaurants have been turning down magicians because of me. They had been turning down performers long before me simply because these chains just aren't willing to pay. Yet there are other performers at restaurants in the area. There are several who are way older than me with way more experience. I've talked to them and many of them have settled for working tips only. I know of two that get paid at a TGI Fridays, one a balloon artist and one a magician. I don't know exactly what they are paid, but they've told me that it is way below what they should be getting.
Besides, I have been working professionally for four years now, and have charged regularly high rates for my private gigs. I would like to get paid more at the restaurant for what I do, but I just don't know where I could go around here that would be willing to pay me at a better rate. Maybe I should just go for busking