12-Jun-2011 (Sun)
Wherein we get Mortified, Blow Up, and seek an Espresso machine.

We're looking for a used espresso machine for DNA Pizza. Do you know someone who has one to sell?

Specifically we're looking for a "La Marzocco Linea 2-group AA". The "two group" part means that it has two steam wands instead of the more standard three. We want that because it's smaller, and we need the room. Unfortunately, those seem to be harder to find than the 3-group.

Photos of our first Mortified are up. That was a hilarious show, so many great stories! Just to pick one: one of the speakers, a white Jewish guy, told a story about his lifelong love with rap music, specifically Naughty by Nature, and shared some of his teenage rhymes with us. During this act I was standing next to Sam, DNA staffer and noted hip hop enthusiast, who commented, "Those are not the worst rhymes I've heard. In fact, those are not the worst rhymes I've heard on this stage in the last six months."

Afterward, we had the shortest turn-over ever to prepare for Blow Up. In about 15 minutes, our staff had loaded out a hundred chairs, set up a drum kit, and cleaned the floor. It was like a magic trick, it was really quite impressive. They did a great job.

"I will now accept your adoration for my mad cowbell skills."
Blow Up was a fun party. But it's strange, every time I look at these galleries I think, That party looks epic. I don't recall the party I was at being epic. Mostly I remember a bunch of dudes in baseball caps. Maybe I should start following the photographers around instead. They seem to be seeing a different party than I am. Don't get me wrong, I had fun... It just seemed like a different party than the one pictured.

Blow Up has a very young crowd: about half of them are between 18 and 21. Predictably, this means that we ring about half as much at the bar as we would on a comparable-sized over-21 party. But sadly, even those over 21 don't tip: while sales are half of what you'd expect, tips are closer to a third. Charitably, this is because even those who are over 21 are so new to this that they just don't understand how to behave yet.

One of our bartenders has taken it on himself to educate each and every one of them. Normally, bartenders want to move on to the next customer as quickly as possible, but he's decided that it's in everyone's best interest to take the time to personally lecture each and every person at Blow Up who doesn't tip him, hoping that the knowlege and/or guilt spreads. "Hey, so just so you know? In a bar? You tip. That's how I pay my rent."

I know I shouldn't find this so funny, but I really do. I'm always reminding staff to be nice to our customers, but sometimes, bad customers need a polite reminder that they're being jerks.

There are also a few photos of last week's Hipster Bootie, and of the final Roccopura.

32 Responses:

  1. Jeff Wilson says:

    I'm not totaly down with the ethics of tipping. I don't have a problem with doing it if that's how a place wants to be paid by its customers, I'll do it and save my attention for the show or my date or whtever. But I think involving young people at the peak of their sophomoric powers in the wage dialectic is less useful than having the MC harang them from the stage, "Remember to tip your server, you cheap bastards."

  2. James McWilliams says:

    I'm not entirely down with it either, friend. I take issue with paying $7 for a bottle of beer and you expecting me to tip you for opening it and putting it on a coaster with a sneer on your face, like you're doing me a favor by doing your job. Yes, I understand that management/owners are the ones charging $7 for the beer, I do.

    On the other side, if I'm drinking something mixed, or with an umbrella, or at least ice in it, and you notice I'm running low and ask about it? Then I'll tip. The service of noticing my drink is low is what I'm tipping for, not for you doing your job.

    If tending bar doesn't pay your bills, quit bitching and moaning that us walking cash registers aren't handing out 5-dollar bills for doing your job. Go get a job working in a fucking cubicle.

    I'm really not a dick. Well, not a huge one, at any rate.

    (yes, I understand I'm at a night club. I understand it's more expensive to drink at a night club than to slog back a bottle of Mad Dog at home. I'm just not paying some asshole to give me attitude because I gave them $.50 as a tip instead of $3).

  3. Sean McCleary says:

    this is the first time I've heard the "servers need their tips so very badly, it's not just an added bonus for a job well done, they're really not paid enough" line presented in anything other than a sad way.

  4. Iain Chalmers says:

    You do realize that whether "you're entirely down with it" or not, if you're acting based on what you wrote there, lots of people will think you're an ass?

    I find the US's tipping "culture" very strange, 'cause we don't have that culture here in Australia, but it doesn't matter whether I'm a hardline market capitalist, or a equal wage for everybody socialist, the truth is that bartender _does_ rely on you tipping him to make his minimum wage hourly rate worthwhile - and yeah, perhaps even to make his rent payments.

    Telling him to "get another job" is a completely asinine attitude. What do you think is gonna happen to the next guy? Jamie's gonna say "oh shit, that McWilliams guy isn't tipping my bar staff, I'll have to start paying them $35 per hour, instead of industry standard wages+tips!"?

    Sure, rant about "the system", but not tipping just means you're cheap. If you're serious about changing the system, run for office and change the rules, don't rip off the people who're least able to effect any change (except by giving you crappier and crappier service as you become known as "that guy")

  5. James McWilliams says:

    The whole fucking point about the tipping culture.

    The extra $6/hour (i'm being low on this estimate, I mean, weekends? Probably like $25/hour..) that the employee would be paid is going straight into the employer's pocket. I get that they have to pay into unemployment, worker's comp, and if they're nice, a matching 401k.

    It's not a fucking asinine attitude. I don't tip the guy that installed my cable modem because he's being paid to do a job. I don't tip the guy that fixed my moped because again, he's being paid by his employer to do a fucking job.

    I don't see why I should have to shell out an extra 15% on each drink because they made the choice to work at a job that pays $8/hour with the "expectation" of more money.

    Go back to college, get a degree in engine repair, welding, vehicle maintenance and quit treating me like a fucking leper for not handing you cash for doing a job you're paid for.

    And I should point out that I'm really not anti-tipping. I tip quite well, when someone goes beyond the "here'syourscotchthatwillbe$18". It's just real rare someone in this industry does that.

  6. Iain Chalmers says:

    I don't want to get into an(other) internet argument here, but I'll just point out that the cable modem installer and the scooter repair guy didn't accept their jobs and salaries with the expectation of getting tips. Every bartender in the US _does_ (except under very specific circumstances) assume they're going to get tips - and the bar owners know it and (under) pay them accordingly. That's how the hospitality industry works.

    It might not be a very good system, but it _is_ the system you guys have. And as I said, changing it wont happen by choosing not to tip some random barman.

    (And the "asinine attitude" comment applies not so much about the guy you're proposing not to tip - sure, he can go get whatever other low skilled job is available to him - but Jamie will then employ another bartender. Under exactly the same conditions. )

  7. James McWilliams says:

    In the interests of not clogging the tubes, I shall end it not tipping well, and you shall end it tipping well. I bid you good day, sir.

  8. Joe Thompson says:

    The thing about tipping is, it puts you in control, but that control comes with the responsibility to use it wisely.

    Think of it like this: the actual price of the drink you buy is the sticker price plus the standard tip (and by the way, like it or not 20% is the new standard and bartenders usually get more than that). If the service is up to snuff -- not *exceptional*, but what you expect, you tip the standard amount. If it's *not* acceptable, you stiff part or all on the tip (but I then advise you to either make it clear what is unacceptable, or find a better bartender, because you'll be PNG with the one you stiffed).

    But if you pull some kind of Mr. Pink act, what you are actually saying (economically speaking) is "I want all control over the quality of service removed from me except the choice whether or not to patronize the establishment at all." And what you'll get, if you succeed, is a system where that drink costs you *more* (because the employees will demand higher wages, the higher wages will be taxable, and they will demand they be high enough to offset the tax whereas now a significant portion of tips are unreported and untaxed), and the employee serving it to you has *less* incentive to do a good job (because the only impact you have on him personally is through his employer who may or may not care what you think, or even believe you).

    So, you know, good luck with that moral crusade and all, but in the meantime (hat tip to Jeff Wilson's comment below!) tip your server, you cheap bastard.

  9. Devon Dossett says:

    I know two people with law degrees who are struggling to find work. one of them cleans up puke in a nightclub to pay the bills and scrambles to grab the rare bar tending shift here and there.

  10. Laura Rubin says:

    I am utterly baffled by the douchebags above discussing tipping a percentage on a drink. What were you, raised in a barn? One dollar per drink. If you don't have the extra dollar, get a cheaper fucking drink. If you can't manage to plan for this, you utterly fail at being a grownup.

  11. Jessica Bailey says:

    Hey genius...do you realize that the alternative to tipping your bartender a dollar, is that the bar owners pay their bartenders a living wage and make up for it *by charging you more*?

    Ever payed 10 euros for what passes as a mixed drink in, oh say, Germany? The price of hard alcohol in Australia? Equally exorbitant by the way.

    Ever been to a show at one of those large stadiums where there's a "bar monitor" making sure all the bartenders pour exactly the right amount of alcohol, and you pay $15 for a vodka-cran with liquor from a plastic container?

    You know why? Because if bartending (or working in a restaurant) was really a minimum wage job, all the people who you would actually be willing to trust with the majority of your money and assets, would go do something else. Like engine repair, or welding, or vehicular maintenance.

    Oh, and do you know what people who work in the service industry do when they are on the other side of that bar in someone else's establishment? Tip. Generously.

    It's great that you've found an excuse not to "participate in the system" but don't fool yourself into thinking it makes you look like anything other than a cheap bastard.

  12. Jamie Zawinski says:

    If you go to a bar, buy a drink, and don't tip, you are a dick. Rant all you want about how you wish the system was some other way -- this is the way the industry is in America. So tip or stay home.

  13. Nik Clayton says:

    Living, as I do, in a country where leaving a tip will often have the wait staff come after you with "You forgot your change..." which seems to work out pretty well, isn't there an opportunity here to try some science?

    Last time I was at DNA there were multiple bars. So, make one of them tip-free (and publicise that fact), but raise the prices at that one bar by 15%, and pay the staff on that bar 15% extra for their shift (or whatever percentages make sense given the normal price/tip ratio).

    Run it for a month, and compare takings and wage bill.

    Gut instinct says that they'll be comparable, and that the staff on the tip-free bar will be happier, because they never have to worry that a bad tipper is going to cause them problems making the rent.

    • Scott says:

      To be clear, tipping is not a "problem" in bars in the US, at least one that needs to be solved with some grand experiments. Everyone tips, except some douchebags who don't know better yet.

      I do wonder if people who run credit card tabs tend to tip 20% or $1 per drink, but it would pretty much work out the same.

  14. Craig Demel says:

    I am utterly sympathetic to Mr. McWilliams's viewpoint, but have long since accepted the prevailing social practice. The rationalizations I provide myself when doing this are a) a converse of the one McWilliams presents: if I really thought it was a bonanza to get $1 for uncapping a beer, I would go into the bartending profession, and b) it means if the bartender _is_ unduly sneery or plunks my change into a puddle, I can signal by just withholding my Washington.

  15. Todd Zaba says:

    Mr. McWilliams,

    I have been a bartender/bar manager for about a decade. At the end of the day, I really don't care about how one person tips. I give a baseline level of service to all that walk in the door.

    I make my money because some tip too well, and they average out those like you who are still strong adherents of the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs.

    Having said that, there are people that tip so profusely... people that show up so often... well, guess who is getting a drink first?

    I'll give you a hint. It is certainly not the person that is talking about drinking Mad Dog at home and complaining about the cost of a drink.

    I don't know where you are, but I will accept 4 bits for opening a bottle of beer. (As you said, it's not much work, and I would rather do the volume on bottled beer w/a 50 cent tip than make one single mojito for any kind of tip.)

    But, I won't do it with a sneer on my face. Perhaps you are rubbing bartenders the wrong way? I will go out on a limb and say that maybe the bartenders recognize the attitude that you have put in the comments here.

    "And I should point out that I'm really not anti-tipping. I tip quite well, when someone goes beyond the "here'syourscotchthatwillbe$18". It's just real rare someone in this industry does that."

    And I should point out that I have had the exact opposite response. Maybe it is because I tip well almost always. I am leaning towards that I am almost never a jerk and treat bartenders respectfully. I can guarantee that my staff wouldn't last a day acting that way. (Granted, we are in Texas, so things might be different...)

    I think jwz is completely correct:

    "If you go to a bar, buy a drink, and don't tip, you are a dick. Rant all you want about how you wish the system was some other way -- this is the way the industry is in America. So tip or stay home."

    I sincerely hope you read this in a manner that might open your mind about things, rather than being a personal attack.

  16. Jim Sweeney says:

    The guys who check in your bags at the airport always VERY LOUDLY THANK YOU for tipping them, and they do that VERY LOUD THANKING in the direction of the rest of the people waiting in line --a handy way to inform the uninformed that tipping goes on where they are.

  17. Christophe Taylor says:

    Tipping culture has always confounded me. It's never clear what tips to give where and no two people it seems agree on exactly what the right answer is. I've heard anything from 10% to 30% as the "standard" for both food and booze.

    What I have discovered as I've gotten older is that I care less about how much I'm supposed to tip as the amount of money that makes up the tip matters less to me. In college, the difference between a $1 tip and a $5 tip was my next meal. Now, it really doesn't matter and I either rely on a rule of thumb ($1 per drink, or if drinks are really cheap, a buck in general for 2-3 drinks).

    I'm still completely mystified as to what I'm supposed to tip or whom I'm supposed to tip outside of a bar or restaurant though. I did stiff an airport bag checker for making me repack my bags 3 times because one bag was 0.5 lb over the weight limit, but now I try to fly without checked bags anyway (stupid airlines charging for checked baggage).

  18. Anna AuntieSocial says:

    I feel the need to speak up as a bartender. At the bar that I work at we are paid $50 for the night. It does not matter how many hours we work, how busy, how slow. My boss and all of the other employees realize that the bulk of our money that allows us to say, pay our rent, buy our groceries and otherwise live comes from tips.
    If we are getting a dollar a drink, that is usually a decent night depending on how busy it is, if you are a big tipper I am definitely going to take care of you.
    As Iain pointed out, it is expected that we will get tips and when it is a night where you have a younger crowd who are not tipping you suddenly have a bit of panic about how you are going to be able to pay your rent/buy groceries/pay bills/etc.
    Some people might think it is wrong or fucked up but unfortunately that is the way it is for us and that is why we are paid so low, because the owners are under the impression that you will be making most of your income on gratuity. If you are getting bad service, by all means, do not tip, but just want it to be heard from a bartenders mouth that it is true, most of our income comes from tips.
    Just my two cents.

  19. Nadya Doe says:

    Sigh. People constantly get lost items back at DNA.....I mean, I-phones, $900 jackets, wallets WITH ALL THE MONEY IN THEM....you name it. People leave stuff for a month and then get it back. Is that an appropriate thing to tip coat check for when you get your item? Let me answer for you: yes. yes it is.

    Also, just in case you didn't notice, when it is busy that bartender is working hard to get you your drinks quickly. If you are down with waiting 45 minutes for a drink, getting a weak pour, or getting your beer practically tossed at you or covered in foam, not tipping is a good choice.

    And don't EVER assume that someone works somewhere because they don't have the education or will to get a different job. You should be happy that people are working at all in this economy.

  20. DFB says:

    Young adults are often clueless about tipping bartenders because they only learned about tipping from their parents but never went to a bar with them. It's not impolite for a bartender to explain that they're expected to work for less than in other service positions which aren't traditionally tipped.

  21. Lisa Tomerlin Roscoe says:

    Some chick came into my restaurant a month after leaving her "favorite" scarf there. No call, no nothing. Every week I dumped that shit - what, I am a storage facility?

    She was so righteously pissed off when I told her that we did not have the space to store all the stuff that people left within our 12 table hole in the wall.

    To not tip you is to figuratively slap you in the face. Your tip - because people are essentially moronic self-centered drones - should be built into the coat check fee.

    And still they should tip on top of that.

    And lick your shoes, but that's another subject entirely.

  22. mattyj556 (signed in using Yah says:

    Even douchebags know to tip:

    http://blog.mysanantonio.com/spursnation/2011/06/14/cuban-leaves-20k-tip-after-post-championship-revelry/

    Another good reason to tip servers and bartenders is because they have to deal with dingleberries like James McWilliams all day. It's a way of thanking them for being in an often shitty job that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

    And if you actually are James McWilliams, you better be tipping righteously to compensate for having to put up with you.

  23. Jim Sweeney says:

    You know where you can buy a beer at Safeway prices and never have to tip? F'NG SAFEWAY! Then you can go home and drink it in your libertarian fortress of solitude while you thumb through your survivalist catalogs. Yay.

  24. Nikki Mayhem says:

    I should apply to make coffee for them and quit starbucks. Lol

  25. Tessa Bedford says:

    I actually do often stay home and read survivalist magazines because I can't afford to tip. True story.

  26. Jim Sweeney says:

    "Afford to" is a whole 'nother ballgame.

  27. Mo Awobo says:

    A 'tip', a 'gratuity', is not included in the ticket price: it is voluntary. It has become required by social norms, but just like a lady shaving her legs, it is not REQUIRED. I left the Service Biz for that reason - i could make a good cocktail, but the squee attitude expected by patrons for me to receive good gratuities was... outside of my skill set. [Really? Mo not squee?] When i tip it is for service well rendered, and because i know how the industry works: unlike many places in the UK and EU, the staff does NOT make a standard wage, as they are paid assuming that patrons WILL tip. When faced with excellence, a tip is called for yes. And yes, those who don't understand that are a bit behind on their social training. However, it serves us all to remember what is actually on the ticket: the drink. The additions: flair, small talk, smiles, an ear to be talked off, a damned good drink - those are what the tip pays for, and that is at the discretion of the patron. Me, i value those things, and i try to leave as much as i can to prove it. And if i'm strapped, i only get the drinks for which i can afford to show that appreciation.

  28. Randy Johnson says:

    I fall all all sides of the tip issue. I believe in the idea that people who work certain jobs that don't pay well should get tips. I also think that the idea that EVERY bartender should get tipped for EVERY drink is silly. I tip $1 almost ever drink I get (and you know I buy $3 beers so that's 33%). You also know that I have given $16 to the Uptown bartenders on Betty's nights there because performers sometimes don't tip. However, I *firmly* believe in the merit system, which to me means, you don't tip a bar tender with a shitty attitude. I have never had that problem at the DNA or the Uptown so I don't mind saying that, but I have been known to stiff a bar tender from time to time. I will also tip MORE when it's a bar tender that is great or someone I have built a "friendship" with (kind of like being friends with your dealer?).

  29. Benjamin Drasin says:

    Perhaps your bartenders could keep a copy of the emancipation proclamation for non-tippers?

  30. Jonathan Turley says:

    Nice, but I think Laura Rubin's remark was more "my speed."

  31. Daen de Leon says:

    As mentioned earlier: if you don't want to tip, buy a few bottles of Chuck Shaw, go home and watch TV. Yey. Otherwise, accept that it's a social norm (like not taking a dump in public, or having sex with baby mice). You are free to treat these norms with disdain, but be prepared to experience a little push back from the people around you if you do so. And yes, I am equating not tipping with taking a dump in public or boning baby mice.