Sorry but Sankey has his head up his butt on this. restaurants will NOT pay anything close to $75/hr for magic, there's too many kids who'll do it for tips. Of course they don't last long and they give us a bad name. I have been working restaurant gigs for the last 16 years, the restaurants pay between $50 to $75 a night (notice NIGHT not HOUR.) This is for a 3 to 4 hour gig, it also allows me to accept tips. I don't wait around with my hand out, when I finish at a table I leave, unless they tell me to wait, in fact I have people come up and drop money in my tip jar when I'm at other tables.
I also make sure that the servers get credit for all they do, I make comments about how "you have the best server on tonight." Or if they are having some trouble I'll say "The kitchen is screwing up tonight, this server is too good to make that kind of error." Remember that happy servers help you, make one angry and they will kill your tips. Also I wear 2 LARGE 3" diameter buttons, one reads "I WORK FOR TIPS" and the other says "SUGGESTED TIP $2435.80"
Working restaurants can be financially GREAT! You get money from the store to be there, you get tips for being entertaining. 5 years ago it was not unusual to bring in $400 to 500 on a Friday night and up to $700 on a Sat. night. Now, well the economy is a lot worse off so don't even think about making that but a couple of hundred a night is still good.
I agree, I worked in restaurants for years 4-5 nights a week, I never found one that would pay $75/hour. I had an agreement with On The Border Cafe for a long time to work for $50 dollars a night and 2 meals. That was for a 3 hour shift.
The danger of taking tips is that the servers could think you are taking some of their money. That's an idea I first heard of on Charles Greenes tape about restaurant magic. I never had any trouble with that, most of the servers seemed happy to have me around to save them when there was a mistake in the kitchen.
Setting rates is tricky, figuring in tips is tough too. Good luck with it!