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The Truth Behind the Tip™

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Posts Tagged ‘Servers’

15% Tipper and Proud of It?

Posted by gratrueities on April 1, 2010

Well…that is the impression one gets when scrolling to the bottom of the recent New York Times City Room blog post by David Sax. The disclaimer at the end of the post states that he is a “journalist and the author of “Save the Deli” (Houghton Mifflin), lives in Park Slope and always tips 15 percent.”

Note – Mr. Sax does not claim to tip “at least” 15% – but, rather, “15 percent,” period. Hmmm…is that really what he means to say? If so, that is curious, considering he has written a book on dining (even if it is deli dining) from which he has, in theory, profited! See him in action doing research at right!

That said, the post, titled Hey, Waiter! Just How Much Extra Do You Really Expect? raises some valid points and, despite the title and surly tone, does not truly take an anti-server stance. For instance, Mr. Sax takes issue with the less-than-minimum wages servers are paid. He challenges the gratuitous tip, but supports rewarding a job well done. Not surprisingly, the article incited both the ire and support of many NYT readers and has, to date, generated well over 1200 comments.

Obviously, tipping remains a controversial subject  – who, when, how much and for what? Interestingly, the comments generated from the article did not divide straight down the line between customers and servers. Some of the most intriguing comments are featured in a follow-up piece – Readers Split the Difference on Tipping.

We’re always interested in the many points of view that surround the custom of the tip and these are particularly insightful comments.

Also, it makes us wonder what GraTRUEity might be appropriate for someone such as Mr. Sax: “I always tip 15% no matter what…so read nothing into this tip.”  “Underpaid workers unite!” ?? We’re open to suggestions!

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Posted in Etiquette, GraTRUEities, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Service, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Splash…into the “tip pool” we go!

Posted by gratrueities on March 1, 2010

Just last week, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of restaurants. The court found that restaurants have the right to create a “tip pool” requiring servers to share a percentage of their tips with kitchen staff  as long – and this is the important caveat – as the restaurant pays their servers at least minimum wage.

A Portland, Oregon waitress claimed that the pooling arrangement violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. Misty Cumbie  argued that because the tip pool at the Vita Cafe (sounds like a place to try soon based on Yelp reviews!) included employees who are not “customarily and regularly tipped employees,” it was invalid under the labor act.  The court did not agree.

This can all get a bit complex – but, to simplify, the restaurant owners wanted their servers to share with the “back of the house” and at least one server, Misty, was not happy with this arrangement.  However, because Misty and her fellow servers were paid at least the Oregon minimum wage (which was BTW $2.10 above Federal minimum wage!), the restaurant owners were not eligible for a tax “tip credit.” Hence, the servers were deemed to be compensated fairly  – the opinion of the court was that “Cumbie received a wage that was far greater than the federally prescribed minimum, plus a substantial portion of her tips.”

Tip pooling seems to be a hot litigation trend of late. This past year, Chili’s Grill & Bar servers won a large settlement against the chain’s parent company, which intends to appeal. Dealers at The Wynn Las Vegas are currently suing their employer for 35 million in back pay and penalties, also claiming that the resort’s tip pool violates state labor laws (we shall see how/if the Oregon case impacts this decision). The ruling for the Wynn case has now been delayed until May. If the Wynn employees are victorious, expect a flood rather than a splash! In fact, they may soon be hiring -if interested, you may want to check this out.

Whether or not legal action enters into the picture, there seem to be strong feelings – both pro and con – on tip pooling. We, at GraTRUEities, see both sides of the argument. It’s complicated because the server is ultimately the one with whom we interact (i.e. puts up with the customer), but we also appreciate clean plates, glasses, silver and a full water glass – and of course a delicious meal! We, therefore, feel that the people who make all that happen should be duly rewarded as well. Of course, in an ideal world restaurant owners could/would pay all of their employees enough that they did not depend on tips for wages, but with so many restaurants struggling to stay open, it seems that labor costs are a problem. And all this brings us right back to tipping! We, the customer/patron fills the void. More to follow on this topic…

Posted in Portland, Service, Tip Pool, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a 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 »

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 »

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.

Posted in Dining experience, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Service, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dueling Celebrity Tippers at Nellos

Posted by gratrueities on November 24, 2009

Regular GraTRUEities readers know that we occasionally  comment on tipping habits of the rich and famous…just because…. And, with the holiday season just about here (we consider the Friday after Thanksgiving the official start) we can expect to hear plenty of reports about the good, the bad and the ugly celebrity tippers.

Well, these famous folk sit squarely in the first category–the good  tippers. And the servers at chi chi Manhattan Italian restaurant, Nellos, were the happy benefactors.

Evidently, as reported in the NY Daily News, earlier in November the power couple of  hip hop, Jay-Z and Byonce,  enjoyed luncheon a deux at the eatery. At the end of what had to have been an amazing lunch, the total tab was  reportedly $1200.00. The tip: $500.00.

A few days later, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich decided to up the ante, significantly. Abramovich also had lunch at Nello’s but his bill totaled $47,221.09.  The tip:  reportedly $7,328.00. Checkmate. You win.

No word yet on how the servers at Nello’s split up those bonanza-sized tips!

Posted in Dining experience, Economy, Pop Culture, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Required Reading? 50 Rules for Wait Staff

Posted by gratrueities on November 4, 2009

Even we were taken aback by this list of 50 rules for wait staff posted in the New York Times  by Long Island restaurateur Bruce Buschel. And, these 50 are only Part 1. It sounds like there will be another 50 in an upcoming post for a total of 100 rules.

Not to say that these rules aren’t relevant, and useful, they are. But…pity the poor server who is handed a list of these rules on their first day on the job. It does seem a bit overwhelming.

Some of the rules are common  sense and virtually all of them touch on something that  could easily turn into an aggravation for the guest.

Here are some of GraTRUEities favorites, with our comments.

3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.

 —Yes! It would be awesome if all restaurants were more relaxed about seating partial parties.

8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.

—So true.

11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.

—Thank-you for this one, Bruce.

12. Do not touch the rim of a water-glass. Or any other glass.

—Eeeck! We hope not.

And finally, saving the best for last,

50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.

Posted in Dining experience, Etiquette, Pet Peeves, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Happy Hour…the New “Early Bird” Special?

Posted by gratrueities on November 3, 2009

Could it be?  Is the  *Happy Hour* menu, popular and hip in many  locales, becoming the new “early bird” special? As someone who has always had a problem with some aspects of the “early bird” connotation, I find myself more and more drawn to the happy hour format. Does it simply sound younger, more festive?  Is the economy popularizing this concept further?  How do servers and restaurants feel about the Happy Hour in terms of tips and business?

Posted in Bars, Dining experience, Economy, Pop Culture, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chips Ahoy!!!

Posted by gratrueities on November 3, 2009

Where – Oba! Portland, Oregon

What  – Happy Hour

Who – Couple at table for two by window

Food – Delicious!

Value – Excellent

Service – Hmmm…mixed…some great and some lacking.  The first portion of the order was timed and served perfectly! Sadly, the repeated request for chips – coupled with ongoing non-delivery – eventually overshadowed the rest of the service.  (It should be mentioned that this was not a busy night.) However, when the chips finally arrived, they were hot and crispy – and *sold* as such!

One other comment from our party – with all the great margarita specials, has Oba! considered buying a blender?

Missed GraTRUEities – somewhat like a “missed connection” on Craigslist:

– “Without a blender, you’re just a pretender!”

– “A sense of timing is a mark of genius.”

– “Chips ahoy!!!”

Posted in Dining experience, GraTRUEities In Use, Pet Peeves, Pop Culture, Portland, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Rude?

Posted by gratrueities on October 14, 2009

Yes or no – a little of both?

In her recent MSN Money article, The Rude New Tip Jar Economy, Liz Pulliam Weston explores the increasing pressure we feel to tip “more and in more situations than ever before.”

Many of us take pride in being generous tippers and take pleasure in rewarding people for a job well done.  Just as we like to be compensated for our own efforts.

That said, the economic realities of this past year have made most of us more cognizant of the value of our dollars – and possibly both more cautious or more generous, depending on the situation.  We want our tips to have meaning and value, not to merely compensate for deficient wages.

That brings us to the other reality:  most service providers depend on their tips to earn a living wage, leaving them at the mercy of the customer, not all of whom play by the rules of the tipping game.

Therein lies the dilemma. How do service providers earn their due without offending the customer by crossing the line? Tip jars, mandatory service charges, etc. all convey the expectation of a gratuity and, while they bring in money, they can also have a detrimental affect.

People still want to feel they have a choice  – they want their tips to be meaningful, not not judged as lacking and especially not take for granted.

Has the time come to revamp the system?

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