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Posts Tagged ‘Tipping’

“Vacation” is over…

Posted by gratrueities on September 12, 2010

Well…”vacations” may be somewhat more accurate. Let’s just say, for the moment, that we’ve been occupied with things other than GraTRUEities and took a brief (in the big picture) hiatus. That said, our dining and tipping experiences have not gone by the wayside by any means! We’ll soon catch up here on some of that but, for the moment, we’re just going to pick up where we left off…and a few things have caught our attention lately.

For one, the Food Network recently put out this little blurb titled  25 Things Chefs Never Tell You” – you just know this somehow bears a bit of bad news! Besides letting you know which days of the year they most hate to work (warning – don’t eat out on New Years Day) , the fact that they like and eat fast food, cook while sick, etc. we learn that chefs are also discriminating tippers and do tend to punish poor service. Hmmm…interesting. Make of that what you will and be sure to check out the rest of the items on the list. You might be surprised, or at least find your thought affirmed.

More recent news on the restaurant front: Screaming babies not allowed! While, in our opinion, it’s questionable as to whether or not this is discrimination, the concept has apparently been well received by customers. As someone who recently flew seated next to a couple with a baby, I have to say I can see the potential for this idea to catch on. I happen to love babies and can remember when my own children would act out in public so am likely more tolerant and sympathetic in such instances. However, I could see the hackles rising around me as the baby understandably fussed. In any case, we will be watching with interest to see how this trend unfolds or if it is quickly stopped in the legal trenches.

We’ll soon be back to share updates of our dining and/or tipping ventures. In the meantime, tip well and often and “look both ways before crossing the street.” **

** More on this later

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Posted in Chefs and Cooking, Dining experience, Fast food, GraTRUEities, Service, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trials and Travails of ‘Splitting the Bill’

Posted by gratrueities on April 14, 2010

You’ve just enjoyed a wonderful (one hopes!) dinner out with friends and then comes the moment of truth…the bill arrives.

Splitting the bill can, too frequently, be an awkward experience. The practice I’m  most comfortable with is adding in the gratuity and splitting the total by the number of people – then each person/couple/family contributes accordingly, per person. My rationale:  if you are dining as a group, you mostly likely are doing so because you want to do so, you enjoy one another’s company and your expectations regarding the experience and expense involved are fairly consistent.

However, it’s recently come to my attention that not everyone is in agreement on this subject!

From the price of the items ordered to the amount of the tip, there seem to be many points open to question. A recent example…I was in the process of dividing a check and adding a 20% gratuity on the total bill, including tax, when someone asked “why are you tipping on the tax – shouldn’t you just double the tax? That’s what I always do.” (a formula that equated to about 16% where we were dining). This did not become a heated discussion by any means, but it highlights one area of confusion that surrounds splitting the bill – every person has different practices. To further complicate things, if the person figuring the bill is a poor tipper, do you speak up or just quietly bump up the tip at your own expense?

Then consider the “small-orderer” – the person who only orders a salad or appetizer (Worse…just a cup of coffee. Worse yet…just drinks the tap water!) while everyone else orders a meal. Or, the person who doesn’t drink alcohol while the rest of the group swills down cocktails and/or wine. In those instances, it may be more sensitive to tell the person who did not partake to “throw in” whatever they think is fair and split the remaining balance . Since I am never that person who doesn’t indulge, I can’t say for sure – but I think I would still be inclined to want to be included in regular split. This is definitely a case where I know (from experience, unfortunately) not everyone agrees!

Let’s not forget to look at the flip side – the person who decides they want to order every appetizer on the menu, an exotic item (think truffles or lobster) or that pricey bottle of wine – at the everyone else’s expense. Not fair…and there should be consequences! Unless they offer to cover their personal indulgence, they may not want to expect to be included the next time!

These are my only my opinions. I, therefore, decided to do a little research to see what it actually considered customary today. I was happy to see that I am somewhat in line with current thinking…or at least half. A recent FoxBusiness article addressing the etiquette of splitting the check offers opposing arguments:

One opinon: “Times are tight, and if a person or couple orders appetizers, dessert and drank alcohol, and you choose not to, it’s OK to discreetly say, ‘I am going to take care of my end,’” said Elaine Swann, lifestyle and etiquette coach. “But be sure to adequately cover what you ordered, plus tip.”

Arguing for the other side: Mirza Grotts, an etiquette and protocol consultant,  said situations regarding money are already awkward enough, and by asking to individually pay will make matters worse.“Asking for separate checks is very passé, it’s too much work for the waiter and if you have lost your job you probably shouldn’t be going out in the first place,” she said. “Asking for separate checks is very passé, it’s too much work for the waiter and if you have lost your job you probably shouldn’t be going out in the first place,” she said.She said it’s much easier to split the bill evenly, particularly if it’s a friend you go out with repeatedly. “It becomes a wash and will even out in the long run,” she said.

So…my conclusion: Let sensitivity and common sense prevail. If you are dining with friends with whom you socialize regularly, it probably will all even out in the end…just split and make it easy. If you are dining with someone in a difficult financial situation who orders frugally, let them pay accordingly (or better yet, treat them if you have the means and it’s comfortable to do so). If dining with a repeat offender – the “big orderer” who burdens you, make a decision. Bottom line, if you resent the bill split, you probably shouldn’t repeat the circumstances.

Side notes:

Make it clear from the beginning that the check will be split, avoiding unpleasant surprises at the end of the meal.

Do not let the check sit on the table at the end of the meal: Grotts also said it’s rude to let the bill sit on the table when it arrives. “Always be the first to grab the bill, it is embarrassing to let it linger.”

Social situations are distinctly different from a business dinner, in which case the person extending the invitation is expected to pick up the bill.

Posted in Dining experience, Etiquette, Paying the bill, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Latest Generation” Waiter

Posted by gratrueities on April 6, 2010

I like you! (“You Got Me” by Colbie Caillat)

It was bound to happen one day…introducing robo-waiters that serve not only food, but also cutting edge entertainment.

Hajime, a Japanese restaurant recently opened (to the tune of 30 million baht or $927,600!) in Thailand, brings high-tech dining to a whole new level. Customers order on touchscreens and are then served by imported Japanese “motorised servants” that (oops – almost wrote “who” here!) deliver meals along with some intriguing (and, dare we say, electric “techno”) dance moves!

Striking, that reference in the article to “motorised servants” – not exactly an interchangeable term for waiter…or certainly not an acceptable one. Perhaps more of a cultural reference – note the spelling?

And speaking of being politically correct, would one leave a tip in this case?

(Potential) GraTRUEity #54 – Time to reboot?

Posted in Dining experience, Etiquette, International, Tipping, Uncategorized, 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 »

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 »

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 »

’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 »

Tiger (Non-Tipping) Troubles

Posted by gratrueities on December 3, 2009

As most know, Tiger Woods is back in the news for “transgressions” greater than for just being a poor tipper, a quality we’ve discussed here before. In the Yahoo feature article, 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Tiger Woods & Elin Nordegren,  the fact that Tiger is a Lousy Tipper came in at #6 between #5 He Has a $20 Million Yacht Called “Privacy” and #7 He Always Wears Red on Sundays.  Draw from that what you will…it does provide a few glimpses into the personality of Tiger and exposes his life in ways he clearly wished to avoid.

Public reaction to this story has been all over the map but of particular interest to us, at GraTRUEities, are comments such as: I’m actually more bothered by the fact that he doesn’t tip. I mean, what kind of billionaire stiffs waitresses? How pathetic and rude.

It seems that one’s judgement of Tiger and his misdeeds all comes down to a matter of perspective.


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