Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tipping in American Restaurants 2009

I read in The New York Times today, that some NYC restaurants are now big on the automatic gratuity added to your check, just like in Europe. I did a little googling and was amazed at the attention which is dedicated to this subject matter!  I thought I would share my tip grading system with the readership of this blog. As a former bartender as well as a former delivery boy in NYC, who lived for tips (and I did well), my standards are high and may even seem draconian or Midas-like.
Rule #1: Mom used to say "if you can't afford to tip, then you shouldn't go out to eat".

Rule #2: Never tip unless the server and/or the establishment deserve it. The word 'Tips' stands for "To improve personal service" Not "To increase Personal Spending"!
Claude's Tip Guide:
I generally start out at 20% as a standard, but have been known to give as much as 25% to 50% for outstanding service. 
Tip Deductions:
5% if the server doesn't pay attention to my table and I have to keep waving my arms, make eye contact or send telepathic smoke signals.
5% for interrupting a conversation rudely. Why can't they ever wait 15 seconds before telling me about  tonight's special?
10% for a dirty bathroom (my personal pet pieve and I usually leave if I didn't order yet).

Health Rule 101: If the Bathroom is dirty, then the kitchen is probably worse! 
5% to 10% for dirty silverware and water/wine glasses.
5% to 10% for cold or lousy food. 
Note: Yes, I know that these items are not always under the waiter's control, but how else do I communicate my displeasure in such a direct fashion?
5% when the server takes the payment folder off of the table and asks "change from this"! This relatively new expression is annoying and rude. When did a tip become an entitlement? BTW, I still don't get why there is a tip jar at The Starbucks counter or any self-serve establishment. How dumb are people to leave tips for BASIC SERVICE?

Side-story: I recently had a bartender ask if I wanted change from a $20.00 bill. The tab was $10.50 and he thought he was entitled to an almost 100% tip!  Normally, I would leave $1 to $3,  but this time I left Nada! Not cheap, just smart!
5% to 15% if I have to send my cold and/or undercooked food back to the kitchen.
15% if the server has dirty hands, an unkempt appearance, more that 5 visible piercings in his left nostril or a tattoo that says 'OJ is Innocent'.
20% If the waiter tells me that the chef will not cook my steak well done.
20% if there is foreign matter, glass or bugs in my food (really happened)!

Tip Additions: 
Add 5 to 10% for good manners. What ever happened to holding chairs for someone about to sit down at a table?  How about saying 'hello'?  When did restaurants stop serving Ladies, Seniors and Children first or for that matter not taking the lady's order first?
Add 5% for Speed.  I love it when my drink and the bread arrive quickly.
Add 5% to 10% for personality/pleasantry. How hard is it to inject some personality?
Add 10% for special orders, without the attitude. Would you mind asking the chef if...............
Add $20.00 to $100.00 for holding/returning or calling me about the jacket, cell phone or my intact wallet that I left on the table.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fontenots in Winter Park

One of my favorite restaurants in Winter Park, Colorado. I believe that this is their 3rd location right up the street from the "The Pub" (a favorite football drinking establishment). Why ? because they needed more room which is always a good sign. This eatery always seems to be busy.

This is the only place short of New Orleans to get a decent Gumbo and cornbread. Make sure you add the Talapia fish and Andouille Sausage BTW. Appetizer favorites are the fried green tomatoes and shrimp dim sum. The traditional shrimp cocktail needs a little work in it's presentaion and sauce.

After a 10 mile run I usually stop in for lunch and get one of the hugh PoBoys. This is essentially a monster sandwich with shrimp, scallops, talapia etc. I have never been able to Finish this hugh portion that comes with fries in one sitting.

Prices seem to be very reasonable for the quality of the food and portions.

Bathroom Check: Clean even on a busy night :-)
Note: Restaurant bathrooms are a personal pieve. My Dad who was a great new York deli caterer always use to say that "if the bathroom is dirty then the kitchen is worse"

My only complaint is that this use to be a locals favorite and fortunately for the owner the tourists have discovered it too.

I give Fontenots a Ski poles UP rating

Rating system

1 Ski Pole down-Avoid
2 Ski Poles horizontal- OK
3. Ski Pole Up -Good Food and Value