I love it when people -- especially bar owners and bartenders -- post comments in the middle of the night. Around 3:30 a.m. today, a bartender named Kelli left an epic screed about tipping under this old post.
Instead of publishing her comment outright, I thought it deserved its own post. We hear so much from patrons, yet so little from service industry employees. It's time for Kelli to share her side of the story. ...
I've been searching the internet to find something I could quote on "how to tip a bartender" but just come up with a lot of crap about 10%, 20%, etc. Here's how I feel:
To start with, most people assume that not only are we getting tipped but we are also getting a check. Not necessarily true.
In at least Texas & Oklahoma if a percentage of your sales (between 8-15%) for the week average minimum wage or higher then the employer does not have to give you additional compensation. So, if in a week I run about $2,100 in sales then based on a percentage of my sales my employer says I made in tips at least minimum wage ($7.25/hr.) so they don't have to pay me. It does not matter what I actually made in tips. (fyi- federal law requires I claim 100% of the tips I earn). And i am taxed on this amount. This is pretty standard for large employers.
If I receive a 20% tip on every sale I make then I actually make $420. Oh, but lets not forget the barback, I have to give him a percentage of my tips based on sales too. So lets knock off about 50-60 bucks on that. So that leaves $360. Now, I run more than $2100 in a week, and i make more than $360 and i tip the barback more than 50-60/week. But what I'm getting at is I don't get a check, we work under 40 hrs a week (36-39) so no benefits (insurance, 401k, sick time, paid holidays etc). I work for tips!
Your service is not just popping a top on a beer or pouring liquor and soda in a glass, it's keeping that beer stocked, knowing how much ice to put in the glass so you taste the liquor in the drink, keeping the bar wiped down so your arms don't stick to the bar when you walk up there, emptying the ash trays, cutting the fruit, and a lot more that goes in to making your few seconds or few hours at my bar is a good experience.
Tipping is standard, expect to do it when you are being served. When you plan to go out, work a tip into that night out budget. Everything here is going to be based on good service. If you get crappy service, a rude bartender, or a bartender that doesn't know wtf they are doing (there's plenty of those out there) adjust your tip as you see fit. Not everyone can be a bartender, there's more to it than knowing the ingredients to a drink. Personality (all different kinds), memory, math skills, multi-tasking abilities, and just basic good customer service skills.
For one drink, AT LEAST leave a buck, preferably more. It's pretty standard. Don't leave me a quarter, it's insulting. I don't care if you get something on special for $1.75. If I tell you something about a drink that saves you money you could make it up in the tip at least the first time you get that savings.
If you plan to give all the change from whatever bill you gave the bartender, tell them, you can walk away and it saves several steps for the bartender. You don't have to physically put the tip in the jar.
If the bartender has to do something special for your drink(ie., chilled, multi-liquor drinks etc.), leave a little more.
If you're buying a round, and I have to make 5-6 drinks, think about it, if I sold that to each person individually and each tipped a buck that's 5-6 dollars. Now I'm not asking u to tip that but tip appropriately.
If you get great service show it by tipping. Remember, if you tip well I'm going to remember you and you're going to get faster, better service.
If you tip great, I'm going to tell the other bartenders and they'll be giving you faster, better service too. Example: Customer last night ran a tab, just beer. His total was $11 and when he closed his tab he left a $10 tip. After he left my bar I constantly kept an eye out for his return and also told the other bartenders, so if he walked back up you can bet he would have gotten fast service.
If you sit at my bar and I have time to visit with you, remember, although I may like you, I'm not there to make friends, if you enjoyed my company, service and conversation, show it in your tip.
Although I personally can't give someone bad service because they don't tip or don't tip well, there are plenty of bartenders who can and do. We are in control. If you don't tip or tip poorly we might wait on others before you. I've seen bartenders say a customer has had too much to drink and cut them off because they weren't tipping. Again, we are in control.
Oh yeah, for those customers in casinos who sit at my bar and either drink or not drink, if you are winning and drinking, tip well, many do. if you are not drinking and win big, if we have been nice to you, engaged you in conversation, offered you our service, tip the bartender, it's good karma.
I guess I'm done rambling on this subject for now. There's a lot more I could say on the subject. Feel free to comment.