5@5 - Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark
November 9th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

So class, we've recently become versed in how to tick off the chef, deal with drunk party guests and overcome booze-induced suffering. Today's lesson? How not to send yourself into self-inflicted Prohibition by being a general pain in the gluteus maximus toward the barkeep.

Our visiting educators are Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark - the comedic vixen mixologists behind the virally infamous McNuggetini. The dynamic duo took a break from shaking (and stirring) up the cocktail world with their new web series, Drinks with Alie & Georgia on Food2.com, to offer up their tips on ensuring the bartender doesn't spit in your Sour Appletini.

Five Tips on Not Pissing Off Your Bartender: Alie and Georgia

1. “When you get a chance...”
"If you’re making this statement, your bartender is very likely in the middle of doing something else. This means that [revelation!] they don’t have a chance at the moment. Bartenders are masters in the art of letting you know if they’re ready to interact, using simple indicators such as eye contact, a finger pointed in your direction, or one particular finger pointed upward, depending on the bar. If they’re not serving you, it’s precisely because they haven’t gotten a chance to serve you. Or worse, it’s because you’ve done something to piss them off (see #5), in which case, get comfy because 'when you get a chance' may be a long ways off."

2. Tipping: It’s Not Just For Cows!
"We all have those friends: The trustfund-baby-cum-performance-artist who doesn’t tip, launching into a diatribe about socialist Utopias. Or your dad who - to your horror - once dropped a fifty cent tip on a two drink order, precipitating a twenty-minute heated conversation about minimum wage and what if someone only tipped your daughter fifty cents, huh Dad? Huh?

The point we’re trying to make is, do you really want to be on the cheap side of the tipping fence? Service industry folks rely on tips for survival, and bartenders are no exception. Here’s the rule, which is really more of a jumping off point: a dollar a drink. Tattoo that to your forehead. Anything less is just plain rude. But with the high-end mixology world booming, your drink may have required any of the following: muddling, infusing, spritzing, ice picking or very-tight-vest wearing. If this is the case, or your bartender created something specifically tailored to your tastes - it’s in good taste to lay down an extra buck or two. Don’t have that kinda money? There’s an awesome dive bar around the corner that serves up a mean vodka-cranberry."

3. Hit on them at 2:01 am
"No way - the bartender is hot? And they’ve been flirting with you all night by making drinks in exchange for money?! You should hit on them. After all, you’ve been drinking all night, so your charm is at epic levels, and hey, you’ve been leaving him/her dollar tips, so you’ve earned a place in their heart. We bet they NEVER get hit on by patrons with sloppy, misguided intentions to sleep with them after last call. You should definitely go for it.

In case you haven’t caught on yet, we’re employing the literary device of irony, which means that we think it’s a VERY bad idea to hit on a bartender/tendress. Especially when the bar’s floodlights have just gone up, and they are screaming at you to leave their establishment.

If you must hit on this beguiling barkeep, here’s a tip: wait for another chance to strike up a conversation when you’re good and sober. Perhaps early in their next shift, before you’re wearing your tie as a headband."

4. Long Island Ice Teas
"Long Island Iced Teas are like the Costco of beverages. We’ll all for buying in bulk when it comes to cereal or paper towels, but drinking a highball filled to the brim with five different alcohols is almost never okay. What it tells the bartenders is 'I would like to get as drunk as possible while paying this bar as little of my money as I can.'

A Long Island Iced Tea is a very unsexy badge of thrift, but it is also a signal to the world that your future involves falling to the floor. Or worse, your best friend holding your hair back."

5. Barfing. Anywhere.
"This brings us to vomiting. Never okay, as far as bartenders are concerned. There are a few occupations which justify contact with vomitus, but they are noble professions, like 'pediatric surgeon' or 'roller coaster test simulator.' Bartenders are on their feet all night making minimum wage, and your half-digested dinner is one of the last things they should have to reckon with at closing time. Keep their suffering in mind when ordering beyond your liver’s means.

A good rule of thumb for keeping your wits about you and your dinner inside your body? One drink an hour followed by a glass of water, and no more than four cocktails per night. This not only abates unsightly regurgitation, but it will also keep you from waking up without pants in a bus station. Remember: moderation does a body - and a bartender - good."

Bartenders - what other customer behaviors would you like to see get nipped in the bud? And readers, do you agree with the above grievances?

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Etiquette • Sip • Think

soundoff (789 Responses)
  1. draft

    consider it lucky here in uk ppl mostly dont tip at all

    February 22, 2014 at 3:21 am |
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  4. Missus Mush

    Tipping is not that complicated. The reason people tip their server or bartender is not to pay a wage, it is to procure excellent service. This is the origin and intention of tipping. Reading this post and the following responses has lead me to believe that the concept of tipping has been mangled and mutated to mean a different number of things.

    Any person that sits at my bar is treated with the same decency and respect as the next. Different bars influence different expectations from patrons toward their bartenders. At certain establishments, the guest is more pleased with conversation and great amount of detailed attention where at another place the guest may be more interested in getting a quality drink in a timely fashion. Tipping in these two situations will guarantee a different type of service but it will guarantee that you will be well taken care of. Tipping is a way to mind your manners and get great service.

    I think it is interesting that this article generated conversation about tipping and wage more than any other topic. I think this article is about treating that guy or girl behind the bar with a certain amount of respect as you would any other person you may be doing business with. The most difficult thing about being a bartender is keeping a smile on your face and a great attitude when you are treated like a less important human being by the person expecting your service. This happens all the time in all variety of ways not just in the form of a shitty tip. It is refreshing and nice when a person can look you in the eye and listen to you as a transaction is being made instead of just talking at you.

    Serving and bartending is difficult, draining work but it also fun and rewarding. It is wonderful to meet all types of different people. Tip according to the standards set in place and the service you desire. Look at your bartender as a person, not just your servant so that we may see you as a person and not just a patron. That is how you expect to be treated after all, isn’t it?

    November 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  5. Marzie

    I work in a private club, and I don't expect tips for simply opening a can of beer. I don't expect tips for opening quite a few beers. I think a dollar a drink is ridiculous unless it's something terribly complicated. The only time I get mad at people is if they make me run all over the place for whatever little thing they need and don't tip me. Other than that, I don't care because I make a regular wage. If I don't make a tip all day, I'm still getting a regular paycheck. These kinds of articles tend to get my dander up because while I think you should always tip good service, they can come off as whiny. What's wrong with a Long Island Iced Tea? I love them. Nothing wrong with that. I enjoy many different kinds of drinks. You know what REALLY pisses bartenders off? It isn't so much the tipping as it is what kind of customer you are. If you're a cool old dude, I don't care if you don't tip. If you're an asshole who thinks I'm a therapist and tells me things I don't need to hear, I can't stand you. Bartending is about people and personalities, not the tip percentages.

    November 15, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
  6. Blackjack

    Well jeez... I guess we should all just stop going to bars altogether if that would be the best way not to annoy any bartenders.

    November 14, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  7. beerhunter

    While I didn't learn too much from the original article (I've been pretty good at avoiding hurling in a public place), I really got an education from the posts here. It seems that the suggestions offered regarding high tipping would be most useful in a place where there's a substantial crowd, but I usually avoid such situations.

    Being as I live in (and cannot change) a situation where servers makes subminimum wages, the IRS treats them all like criminals, and many bar patrons have attitudes that will put a server in a foul mood, it's useful to have ideas on how to distinguish myself from the herd when attentive services is needed. For that, I thank all the posters above, both reasonable and pissy, as you are part of the environment I sometimes find myself in, and I appreciate the insight into your thought processes that you have offered.

    One thing, though, I feel that tipping a buck for a $3 bottle of beer is a bit much. On the other hand, I go to a bar to have a great craft brew on tap, and pouring that is an art form. It takes time to do an honest pour, without two inches of foam at the top in a standard shaker glass. I'm happy to tip a couple of bucks on a high-end microbrew that is served at the right temperature, in a clean glass, with a good fill level, from clean lines. I can't get that at home.

    November 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  8. dutch

    This article was written from a female's perspective, cause most of the male bartenders I know live for the drunk girl hitting on them at 201 am. Here's my list of the 5 most annoying things a patron can do:
    1-Being rude. Just don't be an ass. I never mind when someone asks politely for something, "when you have a moment..." is just an expression meaning I'm not dying for that drink this second. Being a tool might get you your first drink qucikly, but don't expect to get your next rounds with any musto gucho.
    2-Don't flag the bartender down waving cash with a desperate look at a crowded bar, then start to decide what to drink when they ask what you want. Make a mental list, get the tenders attention, order your drink or drinks. If you're wasting the bartender's time they are going to skip you and go to the next person if you can't pull the trigger.
    3-Know your drink dumbass. Don't get pissed when you order a purple fuzzy shangra-la and the bartender asks you what's in it. A young lady once ordered a slippery nipple from me, only to realize she wanted a buttery nipple after she drank it. She was rude and didn't want to pay for it. What, am I the Mentalist? She said, "I hope you don't expect a tip?" I replied, "No but I was hoping you would leave." And she did.
    4-Overly complicated or blender drinks. I don't know any bartender who loves to make anything frozen. If you are at a bar, a real bar, try to avoid it, especially at peak periods. Its one thing to be at Fat Tuesdays or Chevy's and order a frozen or fruity drink, but you're just a speed bump for everyone else trying to get a beer or martini during happy hour, even at the Ritz .
    5-I know the owner! Who cares, everyone knows the owner or manager. This immediately puts your bar tenders on alert. Are you pumping me for free drinks or indicating that you are high maintenace? Either way I am wary of your pronouncement.

    I don't know a whole lot of bartenders who won't agree with me on these bullets. Yes vomit and poor tips are unpleasant, but that comes with the territory when you step behind a bar. You see it at college pubs and country clubs.

    November 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
  9. Drafthouse Kid

    Like many people these days, I rarely have cash on me so I run a tab and pay at the end of the night. This works out better for me because I can tip based on the service I received throughout the night. Good service gets a minimum of 20% and any money I save on free drinks goes right back to the bartender. They always seems to respond well to this and give me good service on subsequent visits. Tipping abnormally high in the beginning is, I believe, insulting to both myself and the bartender. Why should I have to bribe for good service? And why should I assume I have to?

    November 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  10. Steve

    Oh shut the hell up and stop acting like you're doing the world a favor. I'll tip you when you provide good service...I'll tip you even more if you go out of your way to provide good service when you're really busy. Moron.

    November 14, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Rob

    This is why I never go out anymore.

    You're right..if you "deserve" that tip and decide to take it out on your customers, we won't patronize you anymore. Slitting your own throat, I'd say.

    Let ME, the CUSTOMER, make that "deserving" call.

    November 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  12. BarVet

    I've been saying for years... we ought to require a year in the service industry like some countries require a year of military service. Make a little money, learn a little humility = win/win.

    November 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  13. steve

    most people don't understand freakonomics. that's why that the examples in the book exist.

    you can distill alcohol from your garden, for free.
    you can buy beer at the grocery store, with no tip.

    but a bar, is not a store. it's a meat market... it's a social experience
    it's different than starbux, because the longer you stay the drunker you get.
    the bar doesn't WANT you there for 8 hours, drinking.

    that would indicate that you're socially broken.

    the bar exists to facilitate social interactions.

    the rules are there to expose the losers.

    the 50 cent tip, exposes a loser, without a clue.
    (so do blog comment sections, btw... ya can't hide stupid for long)

    you play by the unspoken rules of society
    and get the experience that you deserve.

    if you are smart, you learn about the rules and do things to
    benefit yourself, such as high tips on the first drink.
    compliments on a drink suggestion that you ASK FOR
    "can you recommend a great local brew?"
    "thanks, that is really good" (high tip)

    why? because, the next round is served up faster
    and the girl you're with isn't waiting for very long.

    but the loser, quoting marx, pulling OUT 50 cents
    when the change was all ones... THAT GUY
    that one will wait. and wait. and ok fine, order...
    and will be treated as if they don't exist.

    if they're with someone (a buddy) then the bartender
    will look at them like they're an idiot. and coldly take
    their order, then no bother to look at the tip the
    second time around.

    the loser says "this place sucks" and leaves.

    Then, ironically... it sucks less! the bartender did
    their job correctly. remove the loser.

    then it's a "cool bar".


    November 14, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  14. Bezukhov

    There is a better way. One of the greatest thinkers of recent memory has shown us the light:


    November 14, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  15. bdc

    I don't see where this sense of self-importance is coming from. TV and movies have obviously glamorized the occupation a little too much. This is why most of the time I'd rather sit in a gutter with a couple of bums and a few bottles of Mad Dog than go to a bar where some boring college dropout with kitschy tattoos charges me $12 for a watered down cocktail made with bottom shelf liquor and then has the nerve to complain on his blog that I only felt like tipping him a dollar.

    To all the friendly, helpful, down-to-earth bartenders I've met out there, I'm sorry you have to work with people like these.

    November 14, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  16. Tony G.

    Does that mean she is Hardstark naked ?

    November 14, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  17. Tony G.

    What is a Georgia Hardstock anyway ?

    November 14, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  18. Call Waiting for Cthulhu

    "In case you haven’t caught on yet, we’re employing the literary device of irony..."

    No, you're using the literary device of sarcasm. The fact that you don't know the difference is rather ironic.

    re: #4

    Let's divide up the labor. I decide what I want to drink. You pour it. I don't need to know what you think I "should" drink.

    'There’s an awesome dive bar around the corner that serves up a mean vodka-cranberry."

    Here's an interesting note for your "mixologist" training. It's called a "Cape Codder." Learn it, use it: I won't mistake you for an unlearned douchenozzle, instead of a professional bartender.

    That last one is using the literary device of irony sarcasm. ;)

    November 14, 2010 at 8:13 am |
  19. JK

    5 tips on not pissing off your readers

    1. don't tell me what to order – my drink order does not need to be sexy ... and who gives a s*!t about the bartender's opinion of my thriftiness
    2. don't tell me how much to tip – do you tip your server at McDonald's a dollar per drink? Why not?
    3. don't treat bartending like some esteemed profession that deserves reverence – its a low skil job that relies on social pressure rather than added value to increase income
    4.don't claim to be comedians and then write something that is not funny
    5. don't imply that it would ever be OK for a bartender to spit in my drink .. or assume they would survive if caught

    Also, tipping customs vary by geography and culture. This article is obviously US-centric.

    No hard feeling ... I'm sure you'll do better next time.

    November 14, 2010 at 8:10 am |
  20. Mister D

    You cant smoke in bars or even really get drunk anymore. Now someone thinks there should be some other rules governing how I waste money in a bar? Bars should be grateful that anyone is stupid enough to go in them anymore. So I will have a pitcher of long island ice tea when you get a chance.

    November 14, 2010 at 6:15 am |
  21. Mister D

    You cant smoke in bars or even really get drunk anymore. Now someone thinks there should be some other rules governing how I waste money in a bar? Bars should be grateful that anyone is stupid enough to go in them anymore. So I will have a pitcher of long island ice tea when you get a chance...

    November 14, 2010 at 6:13 am |
  22. Ron

    The whole tipping system is flawed to begin with. Your employer underpays you, you take the job and expect additional money from the customer because you are underpaid, regardless of level of service. This lousy article suggests that you get big tips just for a customer to get service at all, among other nonsensical points. So, you, the minimum wage bartender are the BIG BOSS to decide who gets a drink and when and you expect extra just for getting around to the customer? You high school graduates compare your $200 dollar tax free nights to an hour of an attorney's time? Go to law school then! Bartenders . . . be nice and be prompt and you deserve NOTHING. But if you are, a customer according to custom, should tip you. Simply because you took an underpaid job.

    November 14, 2010 at 5:52 am |
  23. several atoms

    i've been working food service for half my life. i've worked all positions in a restaurant, including bartender. coming off of 14 hours in the kitchens of two restaurants, today, this post reminds me why i prefer to be cooking. you guys are assholes. yes, you, the customers who make the ridiculous argument that you don't need to tip at all because it took seven minutes to get a beer, and yes, you, the barkeeps who argue that someone is terrible for wanting to go out and tip $1 on a $2 beer. yes, YOUR tits could probably help you make more money selling cars, and yes, YOUR daddy could have easily opened a bar instead of a dealership, and yes, YOUR precious salary ('t.i.s.p.s.') could be sent to hell once your sturdy little position gets out-sourced, but these are ifs. the fact is, if you are tending bar you are considered a waitron, which means you make somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 and change an hour (maybe a little more, if you're good at your job, or working for a higher-end establishment). nobody can pay rent on $2 an hour. so, next time you are out eating/drinking, take a look around you. think about how many people are there. think about them all tipping the same as you, and divide it by the number of servers/bartenders there.
    AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: servers/bartenders, tip your dishwashers. it's no secret that they're doing the crappiest job in the restaurant (we all know who ends up cleaning tip #5), so give them a couple of bucks at the end of the night, and they won't think twice when you need some ramekins on the fly. and, if you have a really good night, the kitchen staff doesn't expect, but always appreciates a little something extra, too....

    November 14, 2010 at 4:20 am |
    • Ron

      And Mr. "The World Owes Me Tips" here is so jealous of his customers that he is seething. Big man suggesting that his dishwashers get $2 at the end of the night in addition to their minimum wage, when he scoffs at a $2 tip on ONE DRINK that he serves. Mr. Entitlement then has the nerve to complain that someone else's "daddy" gave them something, so he deserves his cut. Go back to school if you don't want to wind up a dishwasher yourself.

      November 14, 2010 at 5:57 am |
      • several atoms

        who's scoffing at a $2 tip? my point with the dishwashers is that they tend to work very hard, doing a thankless job, for minimum wage. give em a little something to show your appreciation at the end of the shift. this is in the truest nature of the tip.
        as for this 'if you don't like it, go back to school', it doesn't always work that way. you should be able to work hard and pull a living wage out of any of these jobs, regardless of your education level.

        November 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  24. T.I.S.P.S

    You guys are not entitled to crap. Get a staff job that pays a salary if you are unhappy. You guys deserve to be audited every month for lying about your tips. The most you get is 15% from me if you're lucky.

    November 14, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  25. choicebenz

    One way to always assure a quality beverage order is to find out what the bartender drinks. Order their preference and you will always get a premium drink, and additional consideration. As a professional server; I select my favorite flavor of chap stick early in the evening, and kiss as much butt as it takes to make an evening. I would never discuss my gratuities with anyone. I enjoy serving individuals who know what they want and how they prefer their beverages be served. "Make me a drink," doesn't narrow the field. I don't know you. I don't know what you like. However with experience something sweet and fruity for the lady; something distintive for the gentleman. What do I drink? Gold Medal Jack straight up. If your usual spot's top shelf is black label; that maybe the reason you dwell on this topic and I may never get the chance of being of service to you. Remember it is OK to drink; just let someone else do the driving. Good night,

    November 14, 2010 at 2:34 am |
  26. don hoffmann

    Tips on Tips -a poem by Don Hoffmann

    Gratuities given grant no special rights
    Nor give to the donors unoffered delights.
    A tip’s not a permit to fondle or paw.
    A tipper does not get to insult or jaw.
    No giver’s entitled to anything free.
    No server’s expected to sit on a knee.
    No one has to laugh at a weak show of wit,
    But good tips should lower the odds to eat spit.

    November 14, 2010 at 12:29 am |
  27. NoMoWeHo

    You can really tell from the postings who has NEVER had to work with the public as a waiter/waitress/ bartender. I think should be mandatory that if you don't go into the military at a certain age then you have to work as a waiterr/ waitress for 1 year. I think people would be a lot nicer to one another after having to deal with the luncay that is a segment of the population. But then sometimes those clowns never know that they are the ones that the professionals loathe... and sometimes do nasty things to their orders.... not me.. but it has been known to happen.

    November 14, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • Ron

      You bartenders and waiters are really a sick bunch. I had no idea. You are the "professionals" who took a sub-mimum wage job and your customers are the "clowns" who simply expect good service when paying 10 times what a drink costs? You berate the "clowns" that keep you in business and the "clowns" are expected to tip you for such a good attitude? Speaks volumes.

      November 14, 2010 at 6:06 am |
      • steve

        poor misguided non capitalist.

        the drink isn't 10x what it costs. the experience is
        9 parts atmosphere, 1 part alcohol.

        if the atmosphere is too expensive for you, walk.


        November 14, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  28. puhleeze

    Tips are rewards for good service, not bribes. Treat me well, and you will get a good tip. Comment on any tip and find out how much a customer can make your life suck. Who do you think calls ABC about the "21" year olds that getting served. Treating people nicely and treating people like dirt are both two way streets. If you don't like the tips, then maybe you suck as a bar tender and should search for another career. I have had several friends tend bar, and the professional ones with professional attitudes do/did well. The constant complainers were usually their own worst enemies. BTW, if you choose a job where you constantly deal with drunks, you should have already realized that most drunks are jerks.
    I was a bar back as a kid and spent some time waiting tables after that. If you have a hissy fit every time you don't get what you feel you "deserve," then you are going to get weaker and weaker tips. Nobody wants to tip a crybaby. YouGuysAreClueless writes the truth.

    November 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
    • Ron

      Damn straight. Finally someone to put the twenty-something half-wit bartender, who thinks the world owes him a living because he has control of the spigot, in his place.

      November 14, 2010 at 6:09 am |
  29. Ari

    Restaurant and bar owners, others in similar service industries as well, do very well in earnings, thank you. So why don;t they just pay their help a good wage? Paying for my meal and paying again for my server to bring it to me I find ridiculous. I go to a friend's home for dinner, I don't tip his cook and maid. No tips at McDonald's or Burger King, etc. Oh, I see, waiters and bartenders don't make enough! So that's the diner's fault? I don't think my doctor's or dentist's or attorney's assistant make enough either. So tip them as well? How about the bus driver, the train engineer, the stewardess on my flight, the bank teller? Gimme a break with this tipping. I paid for my service already. Paying taxes and tipping – one I have to do, the other I don't.

    November 13, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
    • Ron

      And in other countries they do not generally have such a warped system. I suppose the logic goes something like this . . . any person generally lacking in other skills can bring you your food and drink. But some had such a good attitude (unlike EVERY server here) that people would pay them extra. Uncle Sam said, "Hey, we know you are getting extra, so we want some of what the customer gave you in taxes." Then the employer said, "Hey, it's not enough to pay employees the minimum amount by law and charge customers the most we can for food and drink, so we'll lower the wages so we get some of that tip money too." Rather than the server blaming the government or his employer, he will blame the customer if the customer doesn't now make up the difference between what THEY take and an otherwise good sever MIGHT get. That's bad enough, but here we have all of the severs judging the customers and thinking they are just as entitled to the customer's money because, according to them, they deserve to have a 'good living' just like the people they serve. These folks are in for a harsh reality as the economy continues to tank.

      November 14, 2010 at 6:17 am |
  30. Jumpin Jehosaphat

    Anyone else ready for the day when bartenders are finally replaced by vending machines?

    November 13, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  31. YouGuysAreCluless

    I ran high volume fine-dining bars for 37 years and fired bartenders if they were these type of prima donnas. You're in the service industry with no remarkable skill sets yet. Shut up and get our drinks and if you impress us we will tip accordingly. ANYONE can do your job and there are plenty of establishments where the bartenders still have class.

    November 13, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Ron

      Thank you.

      November 14, 2010 at 6:19 am |
  32. kirbang

    As an inside observer I notice restaurant owners if successful make major bank. It is a cash business to a great part. Servers have allowed themselves to be cowed into the position of not being paid fairly by the business, thus must rely on being paid at the whim of the public. Never a good idea as the public are in general ignorant assholes.Once it was OK to be paid in cash, as the IRS was lax in enforcement and even then, the business often ignored the rules. But really what do I care if I pay $10 for an item plus $3 tip or $13 to begin with. The system is set up to game the servers and public by charging less that the real value and leaving the servers compensation to chance. The business owner wins and the servers take inordinate risk they will not be compensated fairly. Thus the bitch session heretofore. The system is the problem and until it is changed by the servers it will remain a marginal job, Fun but not fair.
    Rik in Atlanta

    November 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
    • Ron

      Agreed on all counts except "fun but not fair". What is unfair about taking a job where you know what the pay is? If you are exceptional, you will probably make more. If not, is it fair to blame the customer, or even the business owner?

      November 14, 2010 at 6:23 am |
    • Missus Mush

      Rik from Atlanta, I agree that it is a way to get out of paying actual salaries and wages. I am a bartender and I have seen the mechanism of chance used to pay a variety of the workers in a restaurant, not just the bartenders.

      For this particular establishment we are paid $2.65/hr even after being employed for five years-servers and bartenders will never ever get a raise here, as with most restaurants. The bartenders pay the wage for the dishwasher- we pay him a base line of $30 no matter what our tips are for the night, plus 1% of our tips. He used to get minimum wage hourly but now he is paid $2.65 like us and we make up the rest of his wage with tips.

      We also pay the food runners, they get all of the tips owed to us by the servers we make drinks for. The managers get the best bartending shifts and this is how they are paid, and of course we pay our barbacks 20% of our tips but they bust their asses for us. It really is how restaurants pay the bulk of their employees. I don’t think its legal. I often ask myself if I would rather have a solid, decent wage of $10-$15/ hr or risk a $7/hr night in hopes of getting a $30/hr night.

      Oh and thank you for that $3 on $10- that is a badass 30% tip :)

      November 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  33. kirbang

    As an inside observer I notice restaurant owners if successful make major bank. It is a cash business to a great part. Servers have allowed themselves to be cowed into the position of not being paid fairly by the business, thus must rely on being paid at the whim of the public. Never a good idea as the public are in general ignorant assholes.Once it was OK to be paid in cash, as the IRS was lax in enforcement and even then, the business often ignored the rules. But really what do I care if I pay $10 for an item plus $3 tip or $13 to begin with. The system is set up to game the servers and public by charging less that the real value and leaving the servers compensation to chance. The business owner wins and the servers take inordinate risk they will not be compensated fairly. Thus the bitch session heretofore. The system is the problem and until it is changed by the servers it will remain a marginal job, Fun but not fair.

    November 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
    • puhleeze

      If you think that about the general public, that pretty much means you too, since you are part of the general public. Self hatred is sad.

      November 13, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  34. john

    I own two small businesses in the food service industry, I have a degree in business administration, and I’ve gone out of my way to study business models that rely heavily on hospitality.
    From a management perspective, tipping is very important for me because it gives my employees a greater incentive to provide prompt and courteous service, and that frees me from constantly micromanaging their behavior.

    However, it’s unacceptable for me if one of my employees decides to provide poor service to a patron that they feel is annoying or rude. As the proprietor, I am ultimately the one who is providing the product and service, and I have the right to set the standards and expectations of both.

    I constantly remind my staff that they are professional servers and not servants, and that I expect them to conduct themselves professionally at all times. My advice to them is to assume that every single customer they serve is a jerk, and that the primary objective of their job is to provide jerks with excellent service.

    If a patron is disrespectful to the point of being abusive, then it is my job to intervene and ask that customer to either restrain him or herself, or leave my establishment. At no time do I permit my staff to take matters into their own hands and provide a level of service that is below the standards that I set. By doing so, they are screwing with the product I am trying to provide in the interest of commerce, and that is the same as screwing with my business.

    November 13, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
  35. Troll Article?

    Hey bartenders: That's fine if you're working the job temporarily to put yourself through school. So do strippers. Doesn't change the fact that you're being paid for good service first and tipped for excellent service second. Your boss expects you to serve every customer with at least a modicum of expedience and equality. The fact that you would place such service into a realm of extortion for tips is proof that you clearly do not have the business's success at heart and if I were your boss I would fire you in the time it takes you to pour a Long Island Ice tea.

    November 13, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
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