I have to agree with SXMBND and there are a lot of new European owners who either have taken over operations of previous places or started a new one in its place and are used to the service charge fee besides the ones who are still protesting the increase that was supposed to be only temporary by adding a charge.
I owned a small restaurant in SXM for 6 yrs and closed in 2012 and at the time I decided to do this there were 362 operating restaurants on 36 square miles of rock. I wasn't insane and my plan included other services to supplement the business income. It was small 50 seat capacity place and no, I didn't charge a service charge. I couldn't raise my prices to absorb the 5% increase due to the competition for what kind of menu I served. I had only 2 waitress bartenders at once and I didn't pool their tips, the tips were theirs as they should be. All I asked of them is that they each consider giving 30% to the chef because his speed and presentation helped make those tips. They did this without argument.
All servers on this island make minimum wage (or less) which is too low to handle living expenses. Rent, gas and groceries are not cheap as you know. Over the years I met (and got more than business friendly) with a lot of business owners of larger places so I could gain insight of how things work down there. You folks would be a bit surprised on a number of things or issues that spur a lot of talk here...
The whole tipping issue is actually a small one, and you need to remember that there are a fair amount of travelers from around the world that visit here as well and do not tip at all or wouldn't even think about it so to an owner a service charge isn't any kind of crime, sometimes can only be a survival tool.
And I can honestly tell you that only some, but not all service charges equate to tips for the wait staff, that is the ugly truth. Most of it goes to fees to credit card companies, offsetting a manager's pay, maybe utilities or a food bill and of course to offset or cover the turnover tax.
And another fact is that larger places that pool tips for the entire evening divide it up in percentages among the entire staff, including management, back of house etc. With the original server ending up with much less than anticipated. To me this is wrong to include management.
The comment of the owners being greedy bastards is just nonsense. with rents as high as 8 to 9 thousand a month and no way to close for long periods of a low season, all business have to try to hang on after making any kind of money only 5-6 months of high season traffic out of an entire year. Running a place on this island is nothing near running a place in the states. Unless you are setting up in a very rural setting with minimal restrictions or rules, because it's really close to that analogy. To be able to dine on a beautiful island vacation in so many ways and varieties as opposed to other similar destinations can sometimes come with a few extra dollars cost and really up to the individual to tip or not. but I would say rarely one is really out to "get you" at any of these places and should never ruin one's visit.