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.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Claude; this is Brilliant, I hate tip jars, cold food and "Change form this" question drives me nuts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Claude:

Here is a TIP situation I ran into when I was in Conneticut.

I got in on a Wednesday late afternoon. After finding the hotel I decided to go out for dinner. I found an Italian place a couple miles away. I was shown to a table given my menu. The waitress came fairly quickly for my drink order. The menu was several pages long. She returned and asked me if I was ready. No, I needed a couple more minutes. I figured out what I wanted and then had to wait for awhile, finally she returned. I ordered. It came with soup and salad both took a long time to come but finally did. The meal followed shortly. So, far the service was OK but could have been better. I finished and waited. Finally I think the owner (or manager) went to the waitress and said told her I was ready. She brought the bill not asking if I wanted desert. Which I did not. The bill was a little over $18.00. So, I gave her two $20.00 bills and asked for change. After awhile she came back with change from the first $20 and said they did not have change for the second. I was amazed, they had a steady flow of customers all the time I was there. While not Friday or Saturday busy. So, at that point I had a decision. I did have a $5.00 bill in my pocket. But thought a 30 percent tip was too much. I decided to leave the change she brought for the first $20 and left. So she got a 10 percent tip instead of 20.

Have a great day.


Anonymous said...

Here is another addition Claude;
Deduct 10% for any server who says
"Hi Guys:

goooooood girl said...

i like your blog......