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Cynthia G

El Farol, Santa Fe

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Last Wednesday evening I joined Susan G and an out of town visitor at El Farol for dinner. (I'll let Susan G post about the tapas. Are you out there?)

After dinner a local blues guitar kid named Alex Maryol (who is a close friend of my daughter and very, very good) was getting ready to play in the bar. We had just dropped roughly $150 on tapas and pre-dinner drinks at the bar, plus tips. On the way out we thought we might stay for a few minutes to listen to Alex.

We were told by the guy at the door that we would each need to pay a $5.00 cover if we were going to stay at all! :blink: I am assuming this must be house policy because he had walked past our table and spoken to us twice, so he knew we had dined there.

Now, I have been a professional musician and I know all about only making half the cover plus tips, but I thought this was a bit over the top. Had we stayed we would have spent more than that on an additional round of drinks (none of us are cheap dates) and would have certainly given Alex much more than that in tips.

The attitude of the guy at the door decided instantly for us that we would leave. So El Farol lost the extra business.... and our goodwill.... and Alex lost out too.

Would this have annoyed you too? Or am I just easily peeved? It just seems kind of tacky. I can't see myself going back.


"Portion control" implies you are actually going to have portions! ~ Susan G

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It is probably how the guitar man was getting paid. More than likely the collection was being done at the behest of the musicians, not the club owner. It is very common practice in New Orleans in the smaller clubs to do this same thing. Otherwise, the place would still be full from happy hour/early evening and, while the band might have a good crowd, there would be no money to pay them.

Remember, the whole point of having live music is to draw in patrons who will eat and drink. If circus monkeys and carnival geeks drew a better crowd that is what they would feature as entertainment. To the club owner it is mostly about getting people through the door to buy stuff, not some great love of live music (although, fortunately, this is sometimes the case). The music, in an ideal world, is not an added cost to the business owner.

Many times (and I would imagine in the situation you describe above) the musicians are just playing for the take at the door (this would not be the case with "name entertainers", they usually have a price set in stone or an either or deal) and since you came through the door and are staying for the music it seems fair that you should pay.

I personally will always gladly pay for music. I know too many starving musicians. :laugh:


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I understand this having been a starving musician (and then a successful one) myself. This is not the kind of place that has a hold over crowd from earlier, and the kitchen is closed before the band starts playing around 9:30 - 10 p.m. They have live music every night and advertise this.

But also because I used to work this kind of set-up myself, I would have been much happier to have just been able to stay, buy drinks so the house would benefit, and give the money that would have otherwise been a cover directly to Alex in the form of tips, because then I know that he would receive it. I have had the unfortunate experience of being totally ripped off by clubs when they "count" the covers at the end of the night.

I realize some people would just stay and not contribute to the kid or the house, but it still strikes me as obnoxious to drop that kind of cash in a place and then be hit for a cover. It's not like we had each just had a glass of wine at the bar. :sad:


"Portion control" implies you are actually going to have portions! ~ Susan G

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Now, I have been a professional musician and I know all about only making half the cover plus tips, but I thought this was a bit over the top. Had we stayed we would have spent more than that on an additional round of drinks (none of us are cheap dates) and would have certainly given Alex much more than that in tips.

Cynthia,

I second that emotion. It really bugs when things like that happen. A friend of mine played up at El Farol and as I recall the musicians get the door "period". So it's kind of understandable but I still don't like it.

P.S.

It has been like the twighlight zone trying to e mail you from the link on this site. I just got another e mail I sent to you back. l lost your e mail addresss when I lost my inbox (on and on with the tech stuff). If you e mail me I'll send you the returned e mail and you can report the glitch to e gullet. I'll also send you a flyer about my book signing on the 10th at the Albuquerque Press Club.

Chow,

Scott

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Oohh, the tapas list: (incomplete, as I was drinking more than usual that night, and some crucial details escape me):

Grilled octopus - small ones: blackened tentacles, chewy centers. Nothing but olive oil and meat - outstanding.

Manchego cheese and fig jam, with a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar and slivered almonds. Lovely plating, very nice pairing with the red wine we were all imbibing!

Several pieces of seared tuna rolled in golden sesame seeds. This was my favorite: The nutty crunch of the seeds paired perfectly with the smoothness of the seafood.

Barbequed spareribs. Harder and sweeter than I expected, and required more nibbling.......but that was part of the fun!

And........the rest is a blur. I remember we had eight plates among three people, and I walked out of there feeling very full and very happy...........but the finer points evade me. Cynthia? Other than the music glitch at the door, I would go again........and soon!


I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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