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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Olympic Size Tips in Vancouver

Posted by gratrueities on February 19, 2010


For those visiting Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, restaurant tipping may be considered a hazardous sport.

According to this recent article from the Vancouver Sun, some local restaurant owners have decided to take advantage of their once-in-a-lifetime bounty of tourists and tack on a mandatory 20% gratuity to each bill.

We’ve debated before here at GraTRUEities whether a mandatory gratuity can even be called a “tip”, because technically the diner is no longer tipping as a response to  good (or bad) service.  A mandatory gratuity is added into the bill irrespective of service rendered.

Additionally, of course, is the real potential for double tipping. Many diners don’t take the time to read the fine print and therefore aren’t aware that they have been charged a mandatory tip. They go ahead and leave a tip on top of the tip.

 As explained in this tipping guide on the Vancouver Tourism site,  Canadians follow the North American convention of adding a standard 10-20% tip for services rendered. But there are many international visitors to the Winter Olympics traveling from countries where tipping is not part of the cultural norm.

What ever the case, these temporary tip levies in Vancouver translate into pure “gold” for the cities restaurants and servers.


Posted in International, Service, Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

GraTRUEities in SF – Nob Hill Cafe

Posted by gratrueities on February 13, 2010

After an amazing late afternoon bike ride, a friend and I had dinner at Nob Hill Cafe in San Francisco. This is a classic neighborhood Italian place; small, cozy, crowded, great food and wine at a reasonable price. The portions are large so we shared a classic Cesar Salad and the Pizza special–buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil. Thin crust and delicious. We opted for a Napa Valley Pinot instead of an Italian wine.

My friend, and all the other neighborhood regulars, know the wait staff on a first name basis. All of the staff, front of the house, bussers and table servers were absolutely delightful, even on a very crowded evening. 

We left a GraTRUEities card to complement our monetary gratuity: “A sense of timing is a mark of genius.”

In addition to great service and good, homestyle Italian cuisine, maybe  it was the invigorating bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin that made this dinner so memorable!

Posted in Dining experience, GraTRUEities In Use, Tipping, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taking Service to the Next Level

Posted by gratrueities on January 25, 2010

And then some! A recent article recounts the World’s Most Outrageous Guest Requests at luxury hotels around the globe. Apparently, as the article states, “no task for the concierge is impossible.”

However, these requests are so far beyond the ordinary, it boggles the mind.

One example from this story:  “Raphael Pallais, the concierge at the newly re-opened Plaza Hotel in New York City, went on a crazy quest for live tarantulas for a guest obsessed with bringing some home to roast–then eat.”  “The ever resourceful Pallais contacted The New York-based Explorers Club, known for hosting controversial “exotic” dinners.”  He elaborates, “One of the attributes of the concierge is that we must remain unflappable at all times,” says Pallais who, like most concierges interviewed for this story, belongs to Les Clefs d’Or, the prestigious international association of concierges. “To us, no request is deemed outrageous. We prefer the term ‘unique.'”

At least two things came to mind while reading these tales!

First, one can’t help but wonder what kinds of gratuity a concierge might receive for procuring 21 deer to be shipped home for birthday party (you guessed it, a 21st birthday!) or covering a sandy beach with carpet for a guest who desired a private film screening on the beach but did not care for sand? Pallais explains that in some cases he sees himself as a “dream weaver,” helping people fulfill fantasies they could not otherwise realize, while  some of the requests are simply “wealth whims.” We can only assume (and hope) that, in cases such as these, people are “sharing the wealth!

Secondly, these stories certainly put asking for a substitution in a meal or a water refill into perspective!

Posted in concierge, Etiquette, Pop Culture, Service, Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

GraTRUEities Demo: The Standing Tip

Posted by gratrueities on January 3, 2010

Using your tip to create a stand. Demonstrated at Cafe Bernardo, Davis, CA.  Excellent New Year’s Day late breakfast, and friendly, fun service. A must stop if you are in the area.

Posted in Dining experience, GraTRUEities, GraTRUEities In Use, Paying the bill, Service, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rainy Day Tipping?

Posted by gratrueities on December 12, 2009

Hi Dear GraTRUEities readers: It is absolutely pouring down rain here at GraTRUEities worldwide headquarters in northern California. All this rain got me thinking: do we tip more or less when it’s raining?  Are we more apt to leave a nice big tip if the sun is shining?  

In short, what kind of impact does weather have on tipping?

I went to my favorite search engine, Bing, (yes, Bing) to find some answers. All I could find were references to Rainy Day activities. It seems there are no scholarly studies about the weather-impact on the tip.

So, let’s do our own research. How does weather impact your tipping habits? Are you more or less likely to tip when the weather is bad? Does a beautiful sunny ski bring out the best in your tipping behavior? Let us know.

And,we’d like to hear from some servers. Do you see any difference in your tips on a sunny day vs a rainy day? Just wondering….

Posted in GraTRUEities, GraTRUEities In Use, Pop Culture, Tipping, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Reader’s ‘Digestion’ and “The Waiter” revisted…

Posted by gratrueities on July 21, 2009

From Reader’s Digest Magazine and from Waiter Rant via Yahoo …a little reminder of some things to avoid when dining out!

Oh, those waiters!

Posted in Dining experience, Paying the bill, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Tipping, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

All a “Twitter”

Posted by gratrueities on March 23, 2009

According to the recent San Francisco Chronicle article Gastronomic glitterati joins the Twitterverse, Twitter is becoming  an increasingly popular way for food lovers to expand their dining experiences.  They may now follow their favorite food “Twitterati” at restaurants across the country.  From recipes, to reviews, to behind-the-scenes glimpses of restaurant life, people are tweeting about what and where they’re eating.

Posted in Dining experience, International, Pop Culture, Travel, Twitter | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Tipper’s Remorse

Posted by gratrueities on March 5, 2009

I’m suffering from a case of “tipper’s remorse.” This is just like buyers remorse, except I have nothing to return and no way of getting my money back.

Unfortunately, I knew when I left the gratuity that I didn’t really want to tip generously – I was already annoyed with the service. I think I succumbed to a pathetic desire to prove something to the server (in this case, the bartender). Just what I hoped to prove, I’m not sure!

We were dining at Sushi Roku in Santa Monica, CA. My daughter and I were seated at the bar, waiting for the rest of our party to join us. We had some difficulty gaining the attention of the bartender, who was otherwise occupied in deep conversation with two women seated next to us.

When we were eventually acknowledged, he was minimally attentive, distracted by the many “assets” of his other two customers. With the bartender’s evident lack of interest serving us, let alone recommending a cocktail, we settled on wine. Two small glasses appeared and we were told we needed to settle our bill at the bar.

For whatever reason (maybe hoping to inspire regret that he did not consider us more worthy) I left a much larger tip than was warranted – over 20% on an already appallingly large bill for two skimpy pours.

I’ve regretted this ever since – based on principal, not money. What motivates us to at times tip generously even when we really don’t want to? Is this part of the phenomenon of “tipflation” or a whole separate issue?

Posted in Bars, Dining experience, Paying the bill, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Tip Jars, Tipping, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tiger Tipping Troubles

Posted by gratrueities on February 4, 2009



All kinds of comments flew around the blogoshere earlier this week when the New York Post Page Six posted an item describing the skimpy tipping habits of elite golfer Tiger Woods. Evidently the very successful golfer (he’s won 14 major championships) was observed throughout a visit to Las Vegas, visiting various eating establishments and interacting with service providers, but never leaving a tip.

The whole issue was widely reported on Sporting News, Fox Sports News and other sites. All of the sports writers were basically appalled that Tiger could  earn$82 million on the course and hundred’s of millions more off the course, and still  go through life without tipping.

I must say, I agree with these sports writers. I really think it is near the height of rudeness to not leave a tip for services rendered.

It’s interesting to think about what causes Tiger not to tip? Is it that he thinks someone is going to follow him around and tip for him? Maybe he doesn’t even carry cash? Or, is it that it doesn’t occur to him to tip?

Tiger is not only a great golfer, he’s also a Stanford University graduate and a very smart businessman. He obviously knows the common courtesy and social expectations behind tipping. So, we can only assume that he is fully aware that he is not tipping and, therefore, he doesn’t want to tip?


Posted in Paying the bill, Pet Peeves, Tipping, Travel, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Tale of the Coat Check

Posted by gratrueities on February 3, 2009

Hi There—

Well, another trip to NYC and another interesting tipping scenario.

Really, I think tipping is more of an issue in large cities like NYC where you are out and about, going from place-to-place, and generally running into more service-oriented people who may or may not expect a tip.

                On  this trip it had suddenly turned very cold and  was definitely winter coat time. One morning, with my first business meeting delayed, I decided to run over to the new Museum of Art and Design (MAD) on Columbus Circle. It’s a fabulous new museum, just opened on the south side of Columbus Circle, in a beautiful new cube-like building designed by Brad Cloepfil and his Portland, Oregon-based firm Allied Works Architecture.

                It was a wonderful sunny, fresh, crisp and cold morning so I had on my nice, comfy winter coat, scarf, mittens, etc. Once at the museum I decided to tour the galleries without my coat to be more comfortable, and went to use the coat check.

            At the coat check counter (hidden in the basement, by the way) I noticed an odd, very prominent sign that read, “No Tipping. By Request of the Museum”. This sign was in bright red letters at eye level, not intended to be missed. Someone was very certain that there was not to be any tipping at the coat check.

              I noticed the sign, checked my coat and went on my way to see the exhibits. And, oh by the way, the coat check is free.

                About an hour later I went to fetch my coat and, since it was just me and the coat-checker, I decided to explore this tipping issue.

                “Is there really no tipping?” I asked.

                “Yep,” came the reply.

                “Why is that?”

                “I don’t know.”

                “How do you feel about it?”

                Long pause. I could tell this coat check person was very dedicated and proud of his position and didn’t want to be perceived as complaining.

                “I don’t know.” Long pause.

                Again, I wondered out loud, “I wonder why?”

                “I guess the museum doesn’t want to be seen making more money off you,” came the reply.

                Well, certainly a good theory. I ended up obeying the sign and not leaving a tip but feeling a bit bad about it the rest of the day. Obviously, the coat check gentleman doesn’t earn a lot of salary and he was extremely conscientious about his job. I would have gladly left him $1 or $2 for taking good care of my coat—especially in these difficult times. But, the sign really did make me feel like I shouldn’t tip. Like I was going against the wishes of someone at the Museum if I did so.

Really, though, why does the museum care? The whole thing seems a little wrong to me. What business is it of the museums; this relationship between me and the coat checker?

Now that I’m on my way home and thinking about this more, I really wish I would have gone against the sign and left a tip. This time, I’m questioning my desire to be a good citizen and follow the posted rules. I wish I would have been even a better citizen, and left a small tip and GraTRUEity with this nice, kind coat checker.


Posted in Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »