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Bribes to the Maitre D'


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Robb Walsh writes in this week's Houston Press about an experience in a local restaurant. During a considerable wait for a table, he and other time biders watched as a new arrival was seated after a short wait.

It occurred to Robb that the hostess had had her palm greased. On a subsequent visit, he gave her an Andy Jackson and was quickly seated.

I've never done this -- never even considered it. I thought of it as a something that happens in movies, like jumping your car over the washed out bridge, not something one does in real life and polite society. Anyone else done it? Do it frequently? On the other side of the equation, does the industry see it occur frequently?

Edited by Dignan (log)
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I watched my new boyfriend do it on an early date and I was flabbergasted. I guess it was something he was raised with.

He does it well, I have to admit; discreetly and non-chalantly with a sort of panache I had only seen in movies.

I have since been surprised at how our level of service is increased across the board within a restaurant and throughout the meal. Seems word gets around that we are heavy tippers when service warrants...

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You bet, any chance I get! MDs, bouncers on long lines at clubs, bartenders in crowded bars. Works like a charm.

Like 'Vinnie' Antonelli said: "It's not tipping I believe in. It's overtipping." :biggrin:

-Mike & Andrea

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I guess when I "overtip" my bartenders, I am more or less bribing them for good service and drinks, so you got me there. I never really thought of it as such.

Vincent 'Vinnie' Antonelli: "It's not tipping I believe in. It's overtipping."

My Blue Heaven

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I've never done this -- never even considered it.  I thought of it as a something that happens in movies, like jumping your car over the washed out bridge, not something one does in real life and polite society.  Anyone else done it?  Do it frequently?  On the other side of the equation, does the industry see it occur frequently?

While I don't make it a regular occurrence, I have been known to do this. Usually somewhere where we don't have reservations and they might be a little booked (there's almost ALWAYS another empty table) but we decided too last minute. Emergency situations so to speak. For the most part I'll either wait or leave, especially if I'm in a city that has plenty of other options.

Anyway. It happens. It works.

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I've never done this with a Maitre D'. However, I always generously overtip on the first drink in a bar when I get it myself (as opposed to being served by a waitress). The bartenders always remember me and will bypass everyone else to serve up my next drink.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I'll break with the current tone of this thread. No, I have not and never would do this, and the people doing this screw it up for everyone else. Bribery is immoral and corrupts society. OK, carry on. :laugh:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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It's a regular occurence. I've done it all my life when necessary. It's amazing how far a ten, twenty or fifty will go depending on the circumstances.

It's also great in parking lots when you want your car up front to avoid traffic jams and long waits when everyone is leaving at the same time.

Just part of supply/demand economics.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I too believe in the tip very heavy on the first drink, especially if I am at a bar where it is frantic and 2-3 deep. Usually a $10 tip on the first round of drinks will ensure that it is easier to catch the bartenders eye later in the evening.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Bribery is immoral and corrupts society. OK, carry on. :laugh:

In the real world bribery is not only moral but necessary - and it's not always money that changes hands. A favor here, an offer there...it's what makes the world go around.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I'll break with the current tone of this thread. No, I have not and never would do this, and the people doing this screw it up for everyone else. Bribery is immoral and corrupts society. OK, carry on. :laugh:

Ditto.

I don't actually feel all that strongly about it, but certainly haven't considered ever doing it myself, and would not be inclined to frequent an establishment where it were necessary, or even appropriate.

Were my date to do it I would be, um, unimpressed.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Well, usually I just walk into the place talking on my cell phone about "3 comma deals" and keep on going to the first empty table that I see. Once there, I put my feet up on a nearby chair and snap my fingers while saying, loudly, to no one in particular, "Garcon! I'll have the regular, now, and a crate of brown ale to go along with it!"

This technique is very effective, but only for extremely self assured individuals such as myself. I don't reccomend it for amateurs or the faint of heart. Often I will be forced to fend off the occasional patron with ruffled feathers or angry hostesses who feel slighted by my confident behavior, but generally, everyone seems to accept that I am as important as I think that I am.

Short of that, I find that just handing over a couple of bills and a flash of my shining grin does the trick nicely.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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and would not be inclined to frequent an establishment where it were necessary, or even appropriate.

Therese, you may not know that you do, but you do.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Gosh, I'm shocked that anyone could consider it anything but uncouth to pay for a table! It is boorish behavior that should have been abolished with polyester and fake parmesan. :biggrin:

OR: Those who can, pay, those who can't...wait.

TIP: To Insure Promptness. It works with the hostess and captain alike - not to mention car valets who's sign shows "full"!

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When I was a waiter in a swank joint an occasional twenty or fifty would be pressed into the captain's palm (not the maitre d', which we didn't have) with the explanation that "we'd like this to be a very special evening."

We always did our best to make sure that it was.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Robb Walsh writes in this week's Houston Press about an experience in a local restaurant.  During a considerable wait for a table, he and other time biders watched as a new arrival was seated after a short wait.

It occurred to Robb that the hostess had had her palm greased.  On a subsequent visit, he gave her an Andy Jackson and was quickly seated. 

I've never done this -- never even considered it.  I thought of it as a something that happens in movies, like jumping your car over the washed out bridge, not something one does in real life and polite society.  Anyone else done it?  Do it frequently?  On the other side of the equation, does the industry see it occur frequently?

Darn, I wish I could remember where I read something about this, it was just a couple of days ago, I think some kind of newspaper publication. Anyhow, it said that palm greasing, aka slipping the maitre d' cash is definitely an ill-mannered behaviour and highly frowned upon, well in most establishments I would imagine anyway. Definitely not recommended. :rolleyes:

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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Well, usually I just walk into the place talking on my cell phone about "3 comma deals" and keep on going to the first empty table that I see. Once there, I put my feet up on a nearby chair and snap my fingers while saying, loudly, to no one in particular, "Garcon! I'll have the regular, now, and a crate of brown ale to go along with it!"

This technique is very effective, but only for extremely self assured individuals such as myself. I don't reccomend it for amateurs or the faint of heart. Often I will be forced to fend off the occasional patron with ruffled feathers or angry hostesses who feel slighted by my confident behavior, but generally, everyone seems to accept that I am as important as I think that I am.

Short of that, I find that just handing over a couple of bills and a flash of my shining grin does the trick nicely.

I have found that being extremely beautiful works equally well. And a crate of brown ale goes with any outfit.

I don't snap my fingers, though. I simply exude my attractiveness and all respond instantly.

***

A cautionary note: I was with a nice guy once who also thought a little strategic pre-tipping was the way to go. We were in a swell-elegant type steak joint. Bottom line, not everyone should attempt this maneuver. Particularly if you feel at all hesitant about it. It was extremely awkward. I so wanted to give this "tip" to him: You're less likely to be embarrassed by flashing good manners than cash.

Here's a question: Have any women tried this practice?

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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I have found that being extremely beautiful works equally well.  And a crate of brown ale goes with any outfit.

I don't snap my fingers, though.  I simply exude my attractiveness and all respond instantly.

***

Here's a question:  Have any women tried this practice?

After reading your technique :cool:, do you really think any of us would readily admit to it? :biggrin:

No, really, I've never tried it, honestly, I haven't. :laugh:

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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Well, usually I just walk into the place talking on my cell phone about "3 comma deals" and keep on going to the first empty table that I see. Once there, I put my feet up on a nearby chair and snap my fingers while saying, loudly, to no one in particular, "Garcon! I'll have the regular, now, and a crate of brown ale to go along with it!"

This technique is very effective, but only for extremely self assured individuals such as myself. I don't reccomend it for amateurs or the faint of heart. Often I will be forced to fend off the occasional patron with ruffled feathers or angry hostesses who feel slighted by my confident behavior, but generally, everyone seems to accept that I am as important as I think that I am.

Short of that, I find that just handing over a couple of bills and a flash of my shining grin does the trick nicely.

I have found that being extremely beautiful works equally well. And a crate of brown ale goes with any outfit.

I don't snap my fingers, though. I simply exude my attractiveness and all respond instantly.

***

I failed to mention that it is very helpful to be with a very attractive women in a red power suit talking on her cell phone about her recent trip to Zanzibar and just how horrid the service was at the Ritz.

That's kind of icing on the cake in the world of getting a quick table. Not needed, but nice to have in a pinch.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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I find that when they see my 1000 post eGullet regal robe with the ermine collar, and the flashes from my giant egullet ring ( secret decoder ), all sorts of good things happen, women smile at me etc.

Honestly, someone slipped me a bill one day and I nearly pissed myself laughing. I gave them a great table and had some fun with them all night.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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Actually, with Neil's shocking admission :wink: that brings up another point-

Have you taken the dough? Did it work? Or did you put them near the fighting couple in the middle of the path from the dining room to the kitchen or the restroom?

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

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

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Somehow I forgot -- forgive me, my extreme beauty distracts even me -- to tell you all exactly why my nice guy friend should never have attempted a Smooth Move. After he handed the neatly folded but highly visible bill to the MD, the MD handed it back to him. Without a single word but a silence hung heavily with meaning.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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Somehow I forgot -- forgive me, my extreme beauty distracts even me -- to tell you all exactly why my nice guy friend should never have attempted a Smooth Move.  After he handed the neatly folded but highly visible bill to the MD, the MD handed it back to him.  Without a single word but a silence hung heavily with meaning.

Ouch. :raz: A harsh lesson learned, I'm sure. Bet he never tried that practice again. :biggrin:

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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A cautionary note:  I was with a nice guy once who also thought a little strategic pre-tipping was the way to go.  We were in a swell-elegant type steak joint.  Bottom line, not everyone should attempt this maneuver.  Particularly if you feel at all hesitant about it.  It was extremely awkward.  I so wanted to give this "tip" to him:  You're less likely to be embarrassed by flashing good manners than cash. 

Here's a question:  Have any women tried this practice?

Heh. I tried it, once, but you see, I had an excuse. I was shepherding my parents through a 25th wedding anniversary day in New York City--a Broadway matinee followed by a nice early dinner at the Russian Tea Room. This was when I was of an age (twenty-something) when this kind of day was completely terra incognita to me, so I was nervous to start with. Worse, instead of my parents enjoying being treated like this, they were paradoxically getting as whiny as 3 year olds as the day progressed. I think they just couldn't handle their eldest daughter being in control, and spending money on them; so like nice mature adults they dealt with it by acting out :rolleyes: (example, my dad stubbornly insisted on circling the block ad nauseum for a street parking space--in midtown Manhattan yet--ignoring all my pleas to let me pay for a goddamn parking garage; and at some other point he and my mom got in this pissy fight with each other right there in the car).

So by the time we got to the restaurant, I was a bit of a nervous wreck. I had a reservation (which I had obsessively checked and rechecked), but now I was terrified the maitre'd would take one look at this lumpen suburban family doing the Lockhorns thing and seat us near the kitchen or some damn thing, which would have inevitably provoked another parental meltdown. So, all afeared and trembling and not suave in the least, I attempted to press a twenty on the maitre d'. Very fortunately, he must have totally grokked the situation in an instant--bitchy parents, sweating-nervous daughter, other offspring already lookign exasperated--and waved off my twenty with a little laugh. We got a perfectly fine table, and while they didn't fawn over us, we did have perfectly nice service.

I have never had occasion to try such a maneuver ever again, but I do have some sympathy for the kind of social emergency for which offering such a tip can relieve a helluva lotta stress. :biggrin:

Oh wait--I have also tried, in a couple of other desperate circumstances, to bribe hotel catering staff to bring a couple cases of bottled water for the very parched band I was then working for (you would not believe how many times it happened that the event planner for whatever gala we were playing failed to make our promised water materialize, even after numerous requests and references to the explicit requirements in our contract rider, I might add--yeah, band riders are sometimes a source of great amusement for some, but you would not believe the amount of water needed by a hard-working band playing for four hours straight). So yeah, when this kind of crap would happen, I was empowered by the bandleader to blow some petty cash on getting them some water so they didn't blow their singing voices out. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

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