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The Truth Behind the Tip™

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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!

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

So Many Secrets!

Posted by gratrueities on February 7, 2010

Who knew? So so many secrets…and so many waiters who don’t care to share?

This just in:  Meaghan Cameron’s 7 Secrets Waiters Won’t Tell You When Dining Out on Valentine’s Day. This piece continues the theme that began with 30 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You and 20 Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You “will never” vs. “won’t” both from Michelle Crouch for Readers’s Digest.com.

The seven most recent *revelations* read more like benign suggestions for Valentine’s Day diners – well…any diners, really – while the  previous lists included many “truths not-to-be-revealed” that we candidly wish had not been.

The “7 Secrets” for hopeful romantics include things like “Make reservations early” (not exactly a state secret), “Don’t drink too much” (generally speaking, a wise idea), followed by “Order a bottle of wine if you are both going to have more than one glass” (a value-based hint). Clearly, the list is for the most part common sense, especially for anyone who dines out regularly. However, if a person is considering proposing at Valentine’s Day dinner they may want to check it out! Apparently, not a good idea…and very “cliche.”

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You Can Dress it Up…

Posted by gratrueities on February 3, 2010

and take it out…and then what? That’s just one question that crossed our minds when (in our so far fruitless search for dining and/or tipping links to the upcoming New York Fashion Week) we came across the new branding endeavor known as McFancy.

And, what is McFancy? If the name doesn’t give it away, perhaps the pictures do! Yes, it is a ultra-chic repackaging of the familiar fare we all know – and many love – but typically associate with the Golden Arches. Being introduced in temporary venues at Fashion Weeks worldwide, McFancy offers the standard McDonald’s menu in a high-fashion setting and delivers it in an all new way: Burberry burgers, Chanel or Hermes fries and Paul Smith Sundaes will be served formally in private dining areas by tuxedoed waiters, whose gratuities will hopefully reflect the upscale twist!

Will the glamorati in attendance at these fashion events respond and devour the quarter pounders presented in their stylish new plaid-trimmed containers? Will mineral water and salads-sans-dressing be forsaken for french fries and ice cream? It’s difficult – but rather fun – to imagine!

McFancy is created by The Cool Hunter, a popular lifestyle and design website, and its recently launched marketing group, Access Agency – “a dedicated entity that will continue our work of creating highly original, transformational, yet eminently practical and results-oriented strategies for companies to stage the kinds of offline brand experiences that will increase the economic value of their offering.”

In simpler terms, they’re elevating fast food dining to new heights. As of now, this is a novelty for the fashion world. Could it catch on? And, if so, what’s next? *See update below

*Update: In answer to our own question above – Burger King to sell beer at it’s all new Whopper Bar! Here at GraTRUEities, we now note that we can use our Bar cards for fast food…perhaps “Great Service on Tap” – or, even more appropriately, “Service fit for a King!”

 

Posted in Bars, Dining experience, Economy, Fast food, International, Pop Culture, Service, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taking Service to the Next Level

Posted by gratrueities on January 25, 2010

And then some! A recent Forbes.com 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 »

Has The Spirit Moved You?

Posted by gratrueities on December 21, 2009

Have you completed your holiday tipping yet – or at least strategized as to how you plan to recognize those who have made your life a little bit better or easier this past year?  If not, time is running out!

On another note, have you felt the urge to spread a little extra joy by beefing up your regular tips?  Or…are you feeling pinched by all the extra holiday expenses?  Do servers find that their tip percentages are greater or reduced during the holidays?

Personally, I feel moved to be  more generous at this time of year  – caught up in the spirit of the season – and “pay the price” in January!

Posted in Etiquette, Holiday tipping, Tipping, 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 »

New York Times 2009 Holiday Gift Guide!

Posted by gratrueities on December 11, 2009

OK…it appears that GraTRUEities, didn’t make the list this year. Perhaps we missed the deadline, since the guide was published in November – just as we launched. In fact, we will assume that to be the reason! There’s always 2010! And…we’re still pleased with the mention by the New York Post.

In the meantime, this year’s NYT list seems to have stirred some controversy…delayed as it is! Even though it took almost a month, the “Of Color/Stylish Gifts” list has now come to attention of critics. Gawker claims that the NYT’s Racially Segregated Gift Guide Offends, Not Least of All Because the Gifts Are Lame. Hmmm…

We are not ones to disdain the creations of others, or gift choices. Just take a look at these lists, and form your own opinion.

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Top Ten Lists

Posted by gratrueities on December 10, 2009

This is not only the season for giving…but also the season for reflection.

We make lists of the year’s best – and worst – movies, songs, fashion trends, restaurants and so forth.  So…along those lines, let’s explore service experiences! What were your most memorable of the year – good, bad or just plain weird?

There must be moments that stand out…one way or another. David Letterman does not hold an exclusive on Top Ten lists – please help us create ours here!

*Update 12/10 – Speaking of Top Ten lists, Open Table has just come out with a December update of “Diners’ Choice” lists.  Sample a few here: San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles. Be sure to note the links to Best Service.

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’tis the Season (continued)…

Posted by gratrueities on December 7, 2009

to be jolly…and to spread some holiday cheer!  The question, as usual, is how much “cheer?”

As we get further into the season, there is more concern about appropriate tipping for the holidays. We want to be vigilant about keeping up to date on the subject so, in addition to the links on Holiday Tipping, are referencing some other recent discussions we’ve come across.

From publications such as Consumer Reports to The New York Times, from Yelp to blogs such as Bargaineering, holiday tipping is a hot topic.

Consumer Reports publishes results from a survey on tipping during an economic downturn. Not the most complete list, in our opinon, but possibly a view of what is most relevant to many!

The New York Times presents a three-part series with questions and answers about holiday tipping etiquette from expert, Peter Post, director of the Emily Post Institute: Part IPart IIPart III

A Reuters article puts a positive spin on the current economic challenges, suggesting that cutting back on holiday tips provides the opportunity to really say “thank you” – a concept undoubtedly met with mixed reactions!

Bargaineering, a personal finance blog, looks as tipping as an investment – The Best Investment Ever – rather than as simply a matter of etiquette, but also includes a holiday tipping guide compiled from many of the sources we have also referenced.

Yelp also has perplexed consumers looking for advice about how much to tip for the holidays – with questions about the appropriate amounts to give – from doormen to hair stylists.

Posted in Economy, Etiquette, Holiday tipping, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »