Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Serving Differences at the Bar

When I wrote my most recent post on a 20% tip not being enough, I anticipated some would disagree with my view. I think this is a good opportunity to discuss the difference between serving dinner and serving cocktails. Please keep in mind, this is only my opinion based on my place of employment. I understand that all restaurants are different and what is appropriate at my restaurant may or may not be at yours.

Serving Dinner entails bringing several rounds of drinks, which may or may not be alcoholic, to a group of people whose main purpose at the restaurant is to eat. These diners may or may not drink enough to feel the effects of any alcohol. If they do, they typically will remain calm and maintain decent behavior for a public setting. There are two reasons for this; alcohol has less of an effect on a person’s system when food is involved, and they are most likely with people who have not had as much to drink as they have and do not want to be seen behaving poorly, i.e. embarrass themselves or their partner.

At the end of the night, after dealing with complaints, multiple refills on sodas or coffees, and a nice game of “run the server”, a 15-20% tip is left (on average) to the server. After the table has been cleaned, another group is sat and the server begins again.

Serving Cocktails means running drinks to a table that may order an appetizer to share among a group of 4 or more people, or may not order food at all. Over the course of the night, these customers will become increasingly rude without knowing it. They will drink faster, requiring the server to monitor their intake lest they be over-served. As everyone in the group is drinking, no one is worried about acting like a fool since all their friends are also behaving poorly. Grabbing the waitress to ask for a drink, to see her uniform, looking down her shirt openly, commenting on her body, and asking for one item at a time five times in a row, is all common behavior. Also not uncommon is throwing up on the washroom floor and using half a roll of toilet paper to cover it up. When this happens in the ladies washroom, a female server must do the preliminary clean-up.

At the end of this very eventful night, after trying to walk out on the check before realizing the server is holding your credit card, a table may ask to close out. The standard question from the server will be something like “Would you like me to charge the card I am holding?” Answers to this question range from “Sure, go ahead” to “NO!!” to “That’s why I gave you the card, right?” with a nice sarcastic tone and roll of the eyes. For all her work, the server is typically left a 25-40% tip depending on service and if the house bought a round. By this time, it is past last call and time for clean up.


Anonymous said...

Not an easy job being a cocktail waitress that is for sure.

Anonymous said...

What kind of tip do us banquet managers get? Not 25% - 40%!

Lone Waitress said...

Banquet- And you have to deal with office staff too!