Young people in large groups that come exclusively for happy hours tip poorly. At tables they drop out one at a time and always underestimate the cost and number of their drinks. They also forget about tax, which at 10% eats half a 20% tip. With them I automatically add gratuity. The last guy standing is usually screwed but that’s life.
I don’t automatically add gratuity to large groups of old people. They tip very well.
Gay people tip the best.
People give higher tips when paying by credit card than cash. I suppose because in the latter case they see their money physically leaving them.
No matter how expensive a drink is, most people will not tip more than a dollar a drink at the bar. But if you’re serving them at a table, they will give you a tip at around 20%, even though it took no additional work than walking a few extra steps.
People don’t understand that when a bartender gives them something for free they’re supposed to give more than a dollar extra. The bartender is not stealing from the bar (because that’s what it is) to save you save money. If a bartender gives you two $7 drinks for free, the tip on those drinks alone should be at least $10. You can’t go wrong if the tip on a free drink is the cost of that drink. That ensures you’ll be treated extremely well on all your visits. For this reason I very rarely hook up people I don’t know, even if it’s a group of girls that are flirting with me.
If the manager tells me to give a regular customer something like a free appetizer or drink, I don’t say it’s “on the house.” Instead I say it’s “on me.” That ensures it’s a higher tip because it makes it seem like I went out of my way, not that it was a business decision by a manger or cook.
The tip is always dismal when one person pays by cash and one by credit card. The guy paying cash puts his share along with the tip in the billfold on top of the credit card. They give it to me and say, “Put it on cash first, then the rest on the card.” The guy with the credit card then adds a tip only for his portion, not remembering (or caring) that he just used the tip his friend gave me to pay a few dollars less. This problem would be solved if the guy paying cash would hold that tip until after I run his friend’s card.
The percentage tip I get is strongly correlated to the amount of times I make the patron smile or laugh. I used routines on bar patrons, not unlike what I would use on girls in the club.
It’s hard for people to give more than 20% tips no matter how amazing the service is. After a certain percentage it feels like throwing money away, because it is.
I quit my bartending job. I lasted 4 months. This is after 17 months of not working. Towards the end I started buying clothes, taking taxis, eating out, and going out on dates to expensive lounges. I was trading my labor for things that were unnecessary and less important than my leisure time.
While I will stick to my Johnnie Walker Black habit (thanks Dad), everything else must go and I will stop getting phone numbers of girls who I know won’t put out on the first date. I will endure bike rides in the cold. I will go back to counting every dollar that leaves my pocket. The world has righted itself, and I look forward to focusing more on important things like writing, reading books, watching mediocre foreign films, and squatting for six hours a time at my regular coffee shop.
I do not believe in the Western idea of continuous work. I work only has much as I need to, and not a day more. This will fuck me over pretty bad at some point in my life, I’m sure, but not today.
I’ve been working at the same bar for about four months now. One of my shifts is lunch and during that time I get the occasional person who comes in to fill out a job application. My record for most applications I gave out in a day was five.
Well I go in on Monday night and there is a stack of paper by the bar. Turns out the day bartender collected over 15 job applications for server and bartender positions during her shift, and gave out half-a-dozen more. She said she felt like an HR person, answering questions and giving out pens. At one point six people were simultaneously filling out applications at the bar. Quite a few papers were actual resumes, with years of professional experience but no restaurant experience. Many graduated from very expensive private colleges (Duke, UVA).
And this is Washington DC we’re taking about, a city with supposedly the strongest job market in the country. It seemed like a giant factory closed down on Friday.
At the bar we often experiment with different types of drink and food. For the holiday season we have a few special drinks. It’s not worth selling them since they’re cheaper than an average glass of wine, but I like trying to see if I can push them onto customers anyway. I’m all about the challenge.
I learned that singing the praises of the drink is not that effective. Even if the ingredients are top notch, most people are not very adventurous, and it’s hard to move them to buy something they don’t know.
So this is what I do. I decide which drink I want to sell for a particular customer and then I say:
“This drink is selling very well. It’s one of our most popular drinks.”
The key word is “popular.” It works most of the time. Without hesitation people will buy what other people are buying, because there’s the assumption if it’s popular then it has to be good. This is why books on the bestseller list tend to stay on the bestseller lists. And this is why girls will date guys they know have slept with a lot of women. To their friends they’ll say something like, “Eww he probably has a lot of diseases,” but they’ll bang him anyway, probably without a condom.
Previously: Long Live The Streak!
It was a big group of six people. They all wanted to eat. I punched their food and drinks into the screen. The food runner delivered the food 15 minutes later and when everyone was half-finished eating I noticed one irate man missing his meal. I forgot to put in his order. I’ve done this before. I begged the kitchen to make his “on the fly.”
I walked back to the table.
“Sir, there was a mix up in the kitchen and they thought they made your order when in fact they did not. I apologize for this and I’m getting them to make it right now. It should be out in a couple minutes.”
I still got a 20% on that tab. Later I spilled a glass of red wine on two girls. I only got their legs but it was still messy. When I couldn’t think of a way to blame the kitchen I said, “Sorry guys I’m an idiot.”
I try to pick apart what gets higher tips or not and I’m finding it’s not necessarily good service because if the words “Sorry” or “I apologize” come out of my mouth I do pretty well. It’s good attitude. If they like me I will get a good tip, no matter how shitty my service was.
1. If you receive a free drink, it’s because the bartender wants you to give him the money you would have spent. If you get a $8 drink for free, tip at least $5 on that drink.
2. We look at tips on the total amount, not the amount without tax.
If you ever tip 10-14% to one of my coworkers, I will not hear the end of it. They whine about it, call you cheap, and then make fun of your physical appearance of mannerisms. So yes, a good way to punish a restaurant worker is to give a bad tip. It puts them in an instant bad mood. I, on the other hand, realize that tips are voluntary. I am grateful for every crumpled dollar you give me.
Recently I began exchanging my time and labor for money. Yes, I have a job, my first in seventeen months. (Seventeen months!)
Six weeks ago a friend of mine had a birthday party at the old bar I used to work at. It was three years since I stepped foot in there and I thought little about my six month stint as a bartender. It was just another job, and not a particularly skilled one at that. Towards the end of the night I get a tap on my shoulder. It was my old boss. He asked me if I was looking for work and I said not really but I’d consider something part-time. We kept in touch but nothing happened.
Last Wednesday after a couple drinks at the Reef I took the Metro home and who was in the same train car but my old boss. Serendipity. He asked me again if I was looking for a job and I told him the same answer. He gave me a start date and that was that.
The bar is patroned by a hyper-professional, sharp-looking clientele in their mid-30′s and up who constantly thumb their Blackberries. Hipsters or college students do not know it exists, and I often overhear political discussion with names of specific Congressmen and Senators. The average tip is 20%, even for mediocre service during the happy hour rush. Customers are older and more conservative so there will be no grimy bar stories like you might see from other bartenders, but maybe I will find an elderly lady patron who would like to subsidize my travel and writing in exchange for sexual favors.
It took me only a short time to get back into the groove of making margaritas, dirty martinis (“extra dirty, please”), and whiskey sours. Honestly I’m not very fast at making drinks but when it comes to personality I’m unstoppable. Two nights ago a couple pleaded with me to cut my shift early and go drinking with them. Little do they know that years of picking up girls in bars and clubs have given me an uncanny ability to build rapport with complete strangers. Or maybe I’m just an all-around great guy.
In just a couple weeks the pads on my fingers will be rubbed raw and my hands will be sliced with little cuts, but nothing a little lotion and liquid band-aid can’t fix. Every night I will take the stack of tips I earned and add that to my bum fund. I will not increase my standard of living one bit—if anything I will bust out the bike even more. Every six nights I work will mean another month I don’t have to. I think that’s a fair trade.