from behind the bar

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Guide to Tipping

A Guide to Tipping
Follow these simple lessons in tipping so you don't look like an ass next time you eat out.

It's impossible to discuss serving without covering its most basic foundation... tipping. It will be a recurring theme in columns to come, but for now, we'll try to limit the discussion to actually figuring out how much of your hard earned money should be left as gratuity for the service received. The truth is we know how much you're going to leave us, that before you even sit your hungry, food-stuffing ass into our booth you have decided how much to leave, and that unless we do something extremely special we're not going to see a penny more. Yet on the other hand, if we even so much as blink when we take your order, we've just dropped our total tip by a third.

Tipping dead babies is not acceptable

This talk of percents might get confusing, but it's how tipping is supposed to work. The simplest rule of thumb I can give your cheap ass is this...

15 Fucking Percent!

That means that you leave as a tip, at least fifteen percent of your check total as a tip. Hence, if your check is $100 dollars, you leave at least $15. Notice, I said at least 15%, that's because this is the base amount you should pay for decent service. If you receive excellent service, you should be tipping in the 20% range. Unfortunately this higher math escapes most people who's T-rex arms can't reach deep enough into their wallets to come up with the few extra dollars. Let's make it easy to remember.... 15% = good service... 20%= excellent service.... anywhere in between or above is fine depending on the situation... less is unacceptable and means that you are a cheap jackass.

Right now, you are probably saying to yourself, why are you bitching? What's the few extra dollars mean one way or the other, especially if it's a smaller check, and the difference is barely noticeable? Well, that's true, sometimes there isn't a big monetary difference between 15 & 20 percent, but we know the math, and how much you leave reflects on our service as much as it reflects on your cheapness. If you leave us a shitty tip when we've done a good job, it says to us that the extra attention and effort we paid went to naught. It's insulting, especially to those servers who actually take pride in doing their job well. And if you can't pony up the extra dollar or two on a small check to show us that the service was appreciated, then we know your stingy-ass isn't going to take care of us when you have a large bill. In that case it makes you look like an ungrateful and tightfisted douche.

"Yes, Mr. Douchebag, what can I get you to drink this afternoon?"

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating leaving a high tip if you receive poor service, it is perfectly acceptable to leave below 15% when your waiter, waitress or bartender is un-attentive and screws things up, but think before you rush to shortchange someone. Was whatever happened really the server's fault or was it a problem that was beyond their control? Remember, server's don't cook the food, they just act as conduits, so if your meal is wrong, odds are that the kitchen made the mistake. I could go on and on about mistakes and who to blame, but we'll save that for another installment, the point is however that if something is wrong, thing about who's fault it actually is before you declare your server a misbegotten, should-have-been-aborted-fetus and leave them a sub-15% tip.

For those of you who actually have some common sense and realize that waiters are not slaves there to treat you like royalty and wave palm leaves over your thrown to keep you cool, there are a host of factors other than check total to consider when actually calculating how much gratuity to leave...

If you can't learn to tip on a check, then start eating at Burger King

1. Did you get a discount? - Always leave a tip based on the original check total, not the after discounted price. We served it. You ate it. Tip for it.
2. Were you given something for free? - If the bartender bought you a round, or your server bought you dessert, remember that they're taking care you, so take care of them
3. Did you run your server? - If you sent your waitress on an errand, only to send her on another after she just returned from the first, you're running your server, pay for the work you're making her do.
4. Have you been sitting long? - When you sit at a table for a long period of time, you are preventing the server from "turning" the table and making money off their next party, so if you want to sit all night, start tipping out like you're paying rent.
5. Ordering take out? - At most restaurants, servers are responsible for putting together your takeout order. It's a bitch and interferes with their primary job of waiting tables, so pay them for the inconvenience.

There is much more to tipping than just what has been mentioned here, but I'm not trying to write War and Peace. The important thing is that you take care of the people who serve you, especially if you are a regular guest. We have long memories, and if you have made a habit out of leaving shitty tips, don't be surprised when you start getting shitty service. We're not going to waste our effort on someone who won't appreciate or notice it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The perspective of a Barman

Hi Tony is my name and observing people is my game.
From behind a bar at a downtime Hotel