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Bribes to the Maitre D'


Dignan
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The practice of tipping or bribing :biggrin: is not an ostensible part of the Australian dining scene. Wait staff and managers, MD's all make good wages and a tip is more or less left as a gesture after the bill (check) is settled. Usually a $10 or $20 is left behind.

In Chinese restaurants however, the Chinese clientele will almost always tip their favourites for exactly the same reasons we've been discussing here.

Having travelled for work and pleasure, I find the practice in the US to be advantageous simply because most of the time, you know where you stand and can almost guarantee results if you're discreet and calculating. Timing and assessment is everything I think.

For example, one trip to NYC saw me at Pastis in the Meatpacking District late one night. I thought that I might take some associates there the next night for food and drink. I struck up a conversation with the rather attractive floor manager and palmed her $50 when I left. WHen I called the next afternoon to make arrangements, she picked up the phone, told me not to worry and when we showed up, party of 6, we were seated immediately and complimentary beers were brought out. The night went extremely well. The bar was told to watch out for us if we approached, and they were generous. People in my party caught on and bills were flying all over the place. Later on, the floor manager and a couple of staff kicked on with us to a 'secret' smoker's bar, drinks on us of course. All in all, over $120 left my pocket in tips that night, and for a $700+ bill for food and booze, I think it was alright.

By the way, the deal was sealed the day after.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I want to know what happened to the staff at this restaurant after Walsh's column ran. Was this considered acceptable behavior by the FOH management? (Even if so, I'm sure they'd prefer it not be run in the local paper!)

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I've done it once. In London, we went to some trendy private club for pre-dinner cocktails. We wanted back in post-dinner, but apparently the place went private at 10 or 11pm. So, on the way out, I spoke to the doorman and palmed him a $20. My friends were shocked. My wife was shocked! I was SHOCKED that he pocketed it so smoothly that you could hardly tell that some bit of business had just taken place.

Over dinner we laughed about it, thinking that he'd be gone or cleverly forget us (or kick back the $20 and call us cheap :biggrin: ). Not a chance. We got back post-dinner, and he saw us walking up. He pulled us to the front of the line and got us in right away.

Would I do it again? Sure. I see no difference between pre or post service tip. Pre-tip: gotta trust the service will be delivered. Post-tip: you're happy with the service. But it has got to be the right place. Here in Seattle? Don't think so. NYC/Vegas/etc -- sure!

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Would I do it again?  Sure.  I see no difference between pre or post service tip. 

When considering pre-tipping, just keep in mind that all prophylactics have some kind of failure rate. Consider using a back-up method as well. I believe Fatguy's book explains a number of them.

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

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I want to know what happened to the staff at this restaurant after Walsh's column ran. Was this considered acceptable behavior by the FOH management? (Even if so, I'm sure they'd prefer it not be run in the local paper!)

The paper hit the streets today, so time will tell I guess. . . .

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By the way, the deal was sealed the day after.

does this mean you slept with the "rather attractive floor manager"? :laugh::laugh:

there was also an episode of seinfeld with the whole scenario going terribly awry...you can imagine it, i'm sure.

working in the industry, it happens all the time. we actually had a maitre d' who would come in on her days off when she knew certain vip's or regulars had a reservation...just to show her face in the hopes of cashing in. of course, we didn't think very highly of her.

i've also seen it happen where someone calls for a reservation and the reservationist makes it seem like the restaurant is totally booked but they'll "squeeze you in"...invariably, the customer shows up, asks for the reservationist who works somewhere in the back and they'll get payola.

it is crazy, but it does work. being a back of the house employee...i never do it. but i do end up overtipping on the check...which i think is a bad habit and another topic altogether.

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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.

And yet I never wait for a table and service is always exceptional.

Perhaps, like ingridsf, I am insulated from these dreary demands by my extreme beauty.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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My friend's and I were dining at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Cesar's Palace last year. We asked the server about were we should go after the meal, she said this new club called Pure just opened on the other side of the casino. We looked out the window of Mesa Grill only to see hundreds of people in line waiting to pay the $30 cover to get in. We slipped her a hundred dollar bill and asked her if she could get us in. She made a phone call, and after we paid our bill, some guy walked across the casino to get us, and escorted us into the club. We tipped him $20 and the doorman $20 for a grand total of $140 spent. $40 less than the cover (there were 6 of us.) I've learned that in places like Vegas and NY, this technique works great. In Seattle, it doesn't buy you much more than a dirty look.

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My friend's and I were dining at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill in Cesar's Palace last year. We asked the server about were we should go after the meal, she said this new club called Pure just opened on the other side of the casino. We looked out the window of Mesa Grill only to see hundreds of people in line waiting to pay the $30 cover to get in. We slipped her a hundred dollar bill and asked her if she could get us in. She made a phone call, and after we paid our bill, some guy walked across the casino to get us, and escorted us into the club. We tipped him $20 and the doorman $20 for a grand total of $140 spent. $40 less than the cover (there were 6 of us.)  I've learned that in places like Vegas and NY, this technique works great. In Seattle, it doesn't buy you much more than a dirty look.

Ok, so, basically none of the six of you had to pay the cover charge to get in? Plus didn't have to wait in line? This begs the question, did the server get to keep the C note or did she have to share? Perhaps you were high end spenders at Bobby's so the word was spread that this habit might extend at Pure? Sure sounds like a good technique though, I'm jealous of your talent and/or beauty. :biggrin::smile:

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

courtesy of jsolomon

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Ok, so, basically none of the six of you had to pay the cover charge to get in?  Plus didn't have to wait in line?  This begs the question, did the server get to keep the C note or did she have to share?  Perhaps you were high end spenders at Bobby's so the word was spread that this habit might extend at Pure?  Sure sounds like a good technique though, I'm jealous of your talent and/or beauty.  :biggrin:  :smile:

We were probably average spenders at Bobby's. Apps, main, dessert, a few bottles of wine around the middle of the list. It seemed to me the server kept the whole 100. She did tell us to take care of the doorman and escort though.

Definitlely talent (or maybe just watching enough movies and reading threads like these), not beauty!

Note: In the cab on the way to the airport, we told the driver about our experiences tipping people (this was all new to us). He mentioned that what we were practicing was not called tipping in Vegas, but "Toking." It seems a tip is for services already received, while a toke is an advanced payment for future services. Found that to be interesting.

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Ok, so, basically none of the six of you had to pay the cover charge to get in?  Plus didn't have to wait in line?  This begs the question, did the server get to keep the C note or did she have to share?  Perhaps you were high end spenders at Bobby's so the word was spread that this habit might extend at Pure?  Sure sounds like a good technique though, I'm jealous of your talent and/or beauty.   :biggrin:  :smile:

We were probably average spenders at Bobby's. Apps, main, dessert, a few bottles of wine around the middle of the list. It seemed to me the server kept the whole 100. She did tell us to take care of the doorman and escort though.

Definitlely talent (or maybe just watching enough movies and reading threads like these), not beauty!

Note: In the cab on the way to the airport, we told the driver about our experiences tipping people (this was all new to us). He mentioned that what we were practicing was not called tipping in Vegas, but "Toking." It seems a tip is for services already received, while a toke is an advanced payment for future services. Found that to be interesting.

Oh yes indeed, a C note would be advantageous to the practice of toking. :wink:

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

courtesy of jsolomon

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Would I do it again?  Sure.  I see no difference between pre or post service tip. 

When considering pre-tipping, just keep in mind that all prophylactics have some kind of failure rate. Consider using a back-up method as well. I believe Fatguy's book explains a number of them.

Of course! But for the things you might pre-tip/bribe for, you can usually tell if it is delivered as expected. The $20 will get you the service you want, or you'll have a $20 education out of it.

But post-tipping isn't perfect either: you have incomplete information to truly assign an accurate tip. Most of the time you really don't know much about what happened to your food on the journey from the walk-in to your table, do you? :hmmm:

Edited by daves (log)
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Here's a question:  Have any women tried this practice?

No, it hasn't even occurred to me. I don't know if this is widely practiced in Vancouver.

I think it's different at a club. Male bartenders usually pour free drinks for the ladies. I don't see that really as being given an extra b/c of generous tipping, because it happens regardless.

I don't think I would feel comfortable tipping a maitre'd.

Edited by Ling (log)
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This all reminds me of that scene in Ferris Bueller where he tries to get a table in the swanky restaurant. The Maitre D' drops the bill as if it were a bag of live insects.

I have never seen this tried in Ireland, and I have no idea whether it goes on. Personally I wouldn't be tempted to try it. Not because I think it's immoral, you understand. No, in Ireland I think the person receiving the cash would simply pocket it and give exactly the same level of service as before. What are you going to do? Complain to the manager?

Si

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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.

I can only say that I'm glad many of you have never actually been to countries where bribery is necessary for everything. I'm tempted to say more, but I'll hold back.

Giving a large tip to a bartender is a different issue, because tipping for drinks is part of the deal. But a maitre d' who accepts bribes should be fired.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I can only say that I'm glad many of you have never actually been to countries where bribery is necessary for everything. I'm tempted to say more, but I'll hold back.

But a maitre d' who accepts bribes should be fired.

Pan, you believe bribery isn't necessary in this country? Spend a month in Washington and then get back to me. Again it's not just money, there are other ways.

There would be no maitre d's left.

And let's face it, it's the word "bribe" that's the issue here. The reality - it's not a bribe, it's simply "the cost of doing business."

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I can only say that I'm glad many of you have never actually been to countries where bribery is necessary for everything. I'm tempted to say more, but I'll hold back.

But a maitre d' who accepts bribes should be fired.

Pan, you believe bribery isn't necessary in this country? Spend a month in Washington and then get back to me.

Rich, you just don't understand. When there are military roadblocks in New Jersey that exist for the sole purpose of extorting monthly bribes from taxi drivers whose licenses would be confiscated otherwise, come back and talk to me.

Again it's not just money, there are other ways.

There would be no maitre d's left.

Oh, are their salaries and working conditions so bad? Perhaps they'd prefer to go in the back and wash the dishes?

And let's face it, it's the word "bribe" that's the issue here. The reality - it's not a bribe, it's simply "the cost of doing business."

Again, you just don't understand. There are countries where everything, everything requires a bribe or nepotism. To a quite significant extent, you're right that it's true in the US, as well, but for you to argue that it's moral, well, I can only say that some people will rationalize anything.

[Edited to make the post less political]

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I am from one of those countries where bribery/corruption is part of everyone's daily life, yet I have never "bribed" anyone in a restaurant for a better table or to be seated sooner. I guess I do have a certain fear that it may not be necessary or that it might not work, partly because I would rather get good service in a place that I visit often for being someone who tips well.

I can't say I agree that it's the cost of doing business. I am not saying that it's not common not only in this industry, but in many others. However, I would try to avoid going to a restaurant where it is NECESSARY to do this to be able to get good service. And whlie it will happen as long as a retaurant is popular, I think it may work against them in the long run if people have that impression. If I owned a restaurant, I would discourage this from my staff.

Arley Sasson

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I can only say that I'm glad many of you have never actually been to countries where bribery is necessary for everything. I'm tempted to say more, but I'll hold back.

But a maitre d' who accepts bribes should be fired.

Pan, you believe bribery isn't necessary in this country? Spend a month in Washington and then get back to me.

Rich, you just don't understand. When there are military roadblocks in New Jersey that exist for the sole purpose of extorting monthly bribes from taxi drivers whose licenses would be confiscated otherwise, come back and talk to me.

Again it's not just money, there are other ways.

There would be no maitre d's left.

Oh, are their salaries and working conditions so bad? Perhaps they'd prefer to go in the back and wash the dishes?

And let's face it, it's the word "bribe" that's the issue here. The reality - it's not a bribe, it's simply "the cost of doing business."

Again, you just don't understand. There are countries where everything, everything requires a bribe or nepotism. To a quite significant extent, you're right that it's true in the US, as well, but for you to argue that it's moral, well, I can only say that some people will rationalize anything.

[Edited to make the post less political]

We can both site extremes to make our points, that's not the issue. Exchanging of goods (and yes sometimes that means hard cash) for services has been going on since man learned how to stand. Your military example occurs in many countries, but we do things here that are equally oppressive, albeit more subtle - but this isn't the forum for politics.

As for morality - yes anyone can justify anything, but the reality is we all practice situational morality. By that I mean, there are things that offend a person some of the time and not others depending on familiarity, place, whether we are alone or not and mental state. I'm offended when a restaurant attempts to "hard" sell me water as soon as I sit down and, if accepted, they keep bringing bottles without asking to pad the bill - I think that's immoral, some people don't care.

I don't think it's immoral to offer someone money for a better table, a better spot in the parking lot etc. etc. That's a choice I make freely. If the person accepts, fine (and that's not immoral either because all they're doing is exchanging a service for goods - in this case money), if they don't, that's fine as well.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I don't think it's immoral to offer someone money for a better table, a better spot in the parking lot etc. etc. That's a choice I make freely. If the person accepts, fine (and that's not immoral either because all they're doing is exchanging a service for goods - in this case money), if they don't, that's fine as well.

If it's not immoral, or at least, well, sleazy, then why is it hidden? Why would one bother to palm the bill, or make an effort to be nonchalant about the transaction?

Do the service people who accept bribes declare them on their taxes? Is the perk that he is selling actually his to sell in the first place?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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If it's not immoral, or at least, well, sleazy, then why is it hidden? Why would one bother to palm the bill, or make an effort to be nonchalant about the transaction?

Do the service people who accept bribes declare them on their taxes? Is the perk that he is selling actually his to sell in the first place?

I think the reason the bill is "hidden" is to be subtle, and to not display the crass and boring personality that Mayhaw so eloquently described.

If the person is in charge of seating or parking, then yes they can "sell" it - or sit, park people based on their experience. This is done is every business from the post office to gas prices. If you want to get your package delivered sooner, you pay a premium. If you want high test gas to make your car run better, you pay a premiun.

The only difference is that it's posted and the money (in theory) doesn't go to one individual. Maybe restaurants should post how much it would cost to get a premium table or to have less of a wait instead of trying to sell me water. Or parking lots should post what the premium is for getting a front space or on the first floor. But I'm sure that would cause another set of problems.

As far as taxes, you would need to ask each invidual who ever accepted a tip. But before you get too caught up in that, let's remember if it wasn't for the underground economy, the world economy would be in a lot worse shape than it is. That's not me talking, that what the large majority of economists believe - and they have the data.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

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If the person is in charge of seating or parking, then yes they can "sell" it - or sit, park people based on their experience. This is done is every business from the post office to gas prices. If you want to get your package delivered sooner, you pay a premium. If you want high test gas to make your car run better, you pay a premiun.

The only difference is that it's posted and the money (in theory) doesn't go to one individual. Maybe restaurants should post how much it would cost to get a premium table or to have less of a wait instead of trying to sell me water.  Or parking lots should post what the premium is for getting a front space or on the first floor. But I'm sure that would cause another set of problems.

That difference is a big difference. Posting prices puts all of the customers (all of the customers who can afford to eat out and have their cars parked in pay lots, that is) on even ground. There's no question of anybody feeling extra special---everybody in the place knows exactly what one paid to have his car parked next to the front door or to sit in the booth on the ever-so-slightly raised platform. Nobody will assume that one was accorded these privileges because one happened to be a bit cooler than anybody else.

Of course, there are plenty of instances in which one actually is accorded these privileges because he happens to be especially cool or special in some way. Ling's example of "girls drink free" is a good example.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Posting prices puts all of the customers (all of the customers who can afford to eat out and have their cars parked in pay lots, that is) on even ground. There's no question of anybody feeling extra special---everybody in the place knows exactly what one paid to have his car parked next to the front door or to sit in the booth on the ever-so-slightly raised platform. Nobody will assume that one was accorded these privileges because one happened to be a bit cooler than anybody else.

But everyone is not on even ground. For example, to get a seat at Galatoires in New Orleans, one must stand in line. If a regular shows up, they are ushered right past the line of eager tourists, and seated promptly. The staff knows that this person is a reliable source of income, and they get taken care of accordingly.

I expect MDs etc 'profile' - they look at the folks who are waiting to be seated (in any restaurant) and to some degree seat them according to expectations, in location if not in order (who gets the window, who gets the path to the kitchen). So tipping up front, while of debatable morality (see debate above :laugh:), gives the profiler additional information.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Posting prices puts all of the customers (all of the customers who can afford to eat out and have their cars parked in pay lots, that is) on even ground. There's no question of anybody feeling extra special---everybody in the place knows exactly what one paid to have his car parked next to the front door or to sit in the booth on the ever-so-slightly raised platform. Nobody will assume that one was accorded these privileges because one happened to be a bit cooler than anybody else.

What about the customers who can't afford to eat out more than once a year - for a special occasion? Think of how they would feel? I don't think if everybody knows what the next person pays solves anything. In fact, it could create more problems.

At least if it's done as a private transaction, there's no sense of embarrassment to the people who can't afford the premium table. It could make for an uncomfortable start to the evening, as in "Gee, honey why couldn't we afford to sit anywhere else but next to the rest rooms? Is that what you think of me?"

And please don't compare this to seating in the theater or at a sporting event - dinner is a much more personal one on one or small group experience.

Let me relate one of my first "tip" stories. It was February of 1970 (before baseball season started) on mid-winter break from college and I was 19. My girlfriend and I decided to go to San Francisco and then rented car (easier for under 25 in those days) after a few days and drove to Lake Tahoe.

We stayed at Harrah's and Don Rickles was performing. She was a huge Rickles fan so I made reservations for the dinner and show. When we arrived I (privately) gave the host $20 and asked for the best availbale table. Now granted, $20 in 1970 was worth a lot more than it is today, but he sat us next to the stage. Believe me, I never expected that.

We had a decent dinner and the show was terrific - Rickles actually brought me up on stage. My girlfriend was totally impressed (so was I - that $20 got me what it did) and we had a great and memorable evening. Did I offend anyone? Did I act immorally? Was the host immoral? Did anyone else feel slighted or embarrassed? I can safely say that I believe "no" is the answer to those questions.

Did he report the tip to the IRS? Probably not, but the taxes on it were eventually paid. Economics teaches us that money in the pocket is money that will eventually be spent and taxes will be collected on it - that's one of the reasons why the government (any government) doesn't come down too hard (unless you get totally greedy) on tipping income. They realize its importance to the economy and cash flow.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

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Let me relate one of my first "tip" stories. It was February of 1970 (before baseball season started) on mid-winter break from college and I was 19. My girlfriend and I decided to go to San Francisco and then rented car (easier for under 25 in those days) after a few days and drove to Lake Tahoe.

We stayed at Harrah's and Don Rickles was performing. She was a huge Rickles fan so I made reservations for the dinner and show. When we arrived I (privately) gave the host $20 and asked for the best avaibale table. Now granted, $20 in 1970 was worth a lot more than it is today, but he sat us next to the stage. Believe me, I never expected that.

I think this stuff happens a lot more-- and is less controversial-- in places like Vegas and Tahoe. More people are tourists and have less chance to become favored regulars. Plus, some people are already being favored way out of proportion by being heavy gamblers. People tip/bribe for everything.

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