Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Bribes to the Maitre D'


Dignan
 Share

Recommended Posts

However if it's posted what tables cost and you wind up next to the rest room - everyone will know you decided to go "economy."

If you're seated next to the rest room (and it's obviously a crappy table) it's going to be pretty obvious that you're going "economy" whether prices are posted or not, isn't it?

The hostess/MD looks at the customer and decides where to seat them, so in that sense, yes it is theirs to sell.

I can change the way I am received at a restaurant by changing the way I dress. A good suit and heels gets a nicer table than frumpy. I wonder what frumpy plus a pre-tip would get.

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?"

Maybe she'll just assume that they've been given a bad table because she looks too dowdy.

It's a small small world where the restaurant (supposedly) revolves around the attractiveness or not of their patrons. This is a newfound and curious caste system of how close to the john are you??

Who puts their self worth in the hands of a matre-d? Y'all are thinking (and therefore revealing) way way way too much. Are you serious?

I mean I think it's funny and lighthearted to think and say that you get a good table 'cause you're 'looking good' tonight as well as true sometimes. But deciding that the opposite is true is sad to pathetic. Umm, ugly fat poor people who can't wear heels can tip as well or better or not than the others.

What are you guys even talking about? :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How does making the transaction "secret" make being seated next to the rest rooms any more acceptable? Maybe she'll just assume that they've been given a bad table because she looks too dowdy.

I

Please take my word on this based on years of experience - if you make a transaction, secret or not, you won't be seated next to the rest rooms. Unless of course the rest rooms are huge and all the tables are next to them.

However if it's posted what tables cost and you wind up next to the rest room - everyone will know you decided to go "economy." Hence the problem with posting table rates in restaurants.

I am with you all the way on the "economy" idea. I began this sort of tipping to avoid being pegged incorrectly for an "economy" buyer. My first time story is similar to yours, we are in AC to see George Carlin and our options were upfront looking at a pilar or back in Siberia. I was 20 looked 17, I understand the reasoning. Instead of getting angry, leaving or spoiling the evening I went and had a handshake talk with someone and we were moved accordingly. Also let me say this wasn't big money and dosen't always have to be but it lets the staff who work on tips know that you are someone who will "take care" of them.

My wife is clearly hispanic looking and we are very low key and unassuming people (no noticable designer names etc). Now I don't want to say that there is racism in NYC or that race is a factor or that there is any "profiling" going on at the FOH in NYC but there is and they generally guess wrong with us. (Franco the FOH Mgr. at Blue Hill NYC was a very rare and pleasant exception to our collective NYC experience on this front). When we are treating ourselves to a "special" and wan't to avoid having a small minded or uneducated eye spoil it for us, I jump ahead and pre-tip.

-Mike

-Mike & Andrea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there's no question that at many places in New York people are seated according to their appearance.

Clubs, perhaps. "Trendy" spots that for some reason think attracting PYTs in black dresses is the way to built a clientele, perhaps. But the best places are run by people who don't judge by appearances alone. And maybe people who don't dress to the nines and sashay about, have more important things on their mind.

Ugly is as ugly does, Forrest.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife is clearly hispanic looking and we are very low key and unassuming people (no noticable designer names etc).  Now I don't want to say that there is racism in NYC or that race is a factor or that there is any "profiling" going on at the FOH in NYC but there is and they generally guess wrong with us. 

-Mike

Yep, and the joke is really on "them"! I agree with the profiling, and it's attached to age as well.

But honest to God, when I was way younger and cute as hell, I got worse service and worse seats.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there's no question that at many places in New York people are seated according to their appearance.

Clubs, perhaps. "Trendy" spots that for some reason think attracting PYTs in black dresses is the way to built a clientele, perhaps. But the best places are run by people who don't judge by appearances alone. And maybe people who don't dress to the nines and sashay about, have more important things on their mind.

Ugly is as ugly does, Forrest.

You're right about the trendy places. But I was thinking about something more than that. There are different ways to judge by appearance. For example, years ago, the first "nice" restaurant I ever went to, La Caravelle. Two awkward people in our mid-twenties, we were seated in Siberia. I don't blame them.

I didn't make that comment to justify the practice of bribing the Maitre d', which I too find sleazy. I just wanted to counter k8memphis's implication that it's solopsistic or delusional to think your seating has something to do with the way you look (or comport yourself). It clearly does.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really have a problem with this kind of behavior, which is probably one of the reasons I don't live in a place like Las Vegas or New York. I'm all about egalitarianism, and it just sort of blows that theory out of the water, so I don't do it and don't really think it's cool when people I am with do.

Once, when I was working as a hostess (worst job EVAH!) a guy tried to bribe me. We were in a huge, massive, wait, around the two hour mark, and he wanted a table right then. He tried to slip me a $20, and while I was sorely tempted to take it and seat him in the next avaliable table, I didn't. It really made me laugh, actually. I just sort of started giggling and couldn't stop. He laughed as well, we joked about the situation, and it all ended positively. I just couldn't morally do it. It's not that I'm some goody two shoes or something, I'm really not - I constantly over-tip bartenders so that I can get better service - but I just couldn't face the looks on the faces of the other patrons when they saw this guy get seated way ahead of them. It just didn't seem fair to me, so I didn't do it.

Edited to add: I have never once bribed anyone for a table, and have never really had a problem getting in, either. Then again I tend to avoid ubertrendy clubs, and the restaurants I frequent are far more food-worthy than be seen-worthy, so maybe this has something to do with it.

Edited by MissAmy (log)

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

\I didn't make that comment to justify the practice of bribing the Maitre d', which I too find sleazy.  I just wanted to counter k8memphis's implication that it's solopsistic or delusional to think your seating has something to do with the way you look (or comport yourself).  It clearly does.

In fact -- I hope this doesn't sound too ugly -- I'll bet this is why some of us think the bribery is sleazy. At this point in my life, at least in the kinds of places I like to go to, I can usually get good tables just by dressing well and acting confidently. It seems like people like all of us shouldn't have to resort to such expedients as greasing palms.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am with you all the way on the "economy" idea.  I began this sort of tipping to avoid being pegged incorrectly for an "economy" buyer.  My first time story is similar to yours, we are in AC to see George Carlin and our options were upfront looking at a pilar or back in Siberia.  I was 20 looked 17, I understand the reasoning.  Instead of getting angry, leaving or spoiling the evening I went and had a handshake talk with someone and we were moved accordingly.  Also let me say this wasn't big money and dosen't always have to be but it lets the staff who work on tips know that you are someone who will "take care" of them.

My wife is clearly hispanic looking and we are very low key and unassuming people (no noticable designer names etc).  Now I don't want to say that there is racism in NYC or that race is a factor or that there is any "profiling" going on at the FOH in NYC but there is and they generally guess wrong with us.  (Franco the FOH Mgr. at Blue Hill NYC was a very rare and pleasant exception to our collective NYC experience on this front).  When we are treating ourselves to a "special" and wan't to avoid having a small minded or uneducated eye spoil it for us, I jump ahead and pre-tip.

-Mike

See, I think the point is that Vegas, Atlantic City, and trendy clubs are sleazy places, and so they may require sleazy behavior. I don't think the same rules apply to dinner at Per Se.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also -- I've got to say it -- if there were some place where I thought I had to bribe the staff to ignore the fact that they don't like the way I dress or my or my companion's ethnicity (and of course there are such places), I just wouldn't go there.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

However if it's posted what tables cost and you wind up next to the rest room - everyone will know you decided to go "economy."

If you're seated next to the rest room (and it's obviously a crappy table) it's going to be pretty obvious that you're going "economy" whether prices are posted or not, isn't it?

The hostess/MD looks at the customer and decides where to seat them, so in that sense, yes it is theirs to sell.

I can change the way I am received at a restaurant by changing the way I dress. A good suit and heels gets a nicer table than frumpy. I wonder what frumpy plus a pre-tip would get.

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?"

Maybe she'll just assume that they've been given a bad table because she looks too dowdy.

It's a small small world where the restaurant (supposedly) revolves around the attractiveness or not of their patrons. This is a newfound and curious caste system of how close to the john are you??

Who puts their self worth in the hands of a matre-d? Y'all are thinking (and therefore revealing) way way way too much. Are you serious?

I mean I think it's funny and lighthearted to think and say that you get a good table 'cause you're 'looking good' tonight as well as true sometimes. But deciding that the opposite is true is sad to pathetic. Umm, ugly fat poor people who can't wear heels can tip as well or better or not than the others.

What are you guys even talking about? :rolleyes:

LOL

Yes, the truth hurts some people some times.

Sure, I have pampered fried catfish eating sweet tea drinking great tippers who were overweight and in polyester. For goodness sake, they are just people. They asked for me when they came in. I kept the tea glass full. Took care of my day care bill all on thier own. Was on a first name basis with several of them. Back in the day, but believe me they were Godsent customers. I still have a fondness for them, and will be forever grateful

Money makes the world go around. Why would somebody dress in a tux shirt and serve fried catfish otherwise?

:biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been known to do something even more crazy than pre-dinner bribes:  A round of drinks for the kitchen AND FOH staff, after closing, when an experience was really great.  Talk about being treated like royalty!

If you waited to do that when the experience was really great, then how were you treated like royalty? - unless you returned again. And that would be difficult if you were just visiting or vacationing in a city.

Wouldn't you want to be treated like royalty that night? So why not send the drinks (reserved until after closing if you choose) when you first arrived? And how is that different than money, which they may have appreciated more - especially if some are non-drinkers?

I have a friend who always buys the cook a bootle of Harp as soon as he enters (and one or two more during the evening) this little Greek place in Hallandale, FL - Opa. And he gets treated like royalty - luckily I was there for the carriage ride.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

\I didn't make that comment to justify the practice of bribing the Maitre d', which I too find sleazy.  I just wanted to counter k8memphis's implication that it's solopsistic or delusional to think your seating has something to do with the way you look (or comport yourself).  It clearly does.

In fact -- I hope this doesn't sound too ugly -- I'll bet this is why some of us think the bribery is sleazy. At this point in my life, at least in the kinds of places I like to go to, I can usually get good tables just be dressing well and acting confidently. It seems like people like all of us shouldn't have to resort to such expedients as greasing palms.

Interesting.

I think that perhaps it is all an issue of being polite, and understanding.

Unless you have a big deal riding on it, and then, well, all bets are off.

Understandable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What does it even mean to be "treated like royalty"?

The last really expensive restaurant I went to was Gilt. I couldn't have been treated better (they even were very polite when my dining companion was 45 minutes late and thus held up our table). What would a bribe have accomplished?

The last mid-priced restaurant I went to was The Orchard. The service was fine. Would I have notched it up to the level of service I got at Gilt if I slipped someone a fifty? I don't see how.

What exactly are people buying here?

(I keep getting the feeling they're not talking about what I would consider good restaurants, since I kind of feel like good service is part of the deal.)

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If a bartender gives you "one on the house" do you tip on it?

always

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, I dont pre-tip, and wouldnt. I have a deep-rooted aversion to 'taking cuts' in line. (I'm probably afraid someone would 'tattle' on me. ) But I dont see it as immoral, even if that seems contradictory.

But deciding that the opposite is true is sad to pathetic. Umm, ugly fat poor people who can't wear heels can tip as well or better or not than the others

You are quite right, it is pathetic and illogical. But it doesnt change my experience that profiling occurs - dress, appearance, age, gender.

Apparently, young folks are thought less likely to have money to splash around. Less than before, but still, two women are more likely to have to ask for a better table than a male/female couple (in my experience), nice clothes sit in better seats than equally clean and tidy but less attractive ones, etc etc.

That the MD gets to decide where different diners are seated does not mean that these are his seats to sell. His job is (or I think it is) to make sure that the maximum number of people are comfortable and that the dining room runs smoothly. To that end he may put the underdressed in an area where passers-by don't see them and thereby gain a poor impression of the establishment, just as he may put families with children in an area where they are less likely to disturb other diners

I agree with this description. And yet I note that even it accepts that the MD/hostess makes decisions based on profiling (underdressed, children).

the M d' situation of a regular customer being given special treatment because of what in essence is an ongoing relationship that rewards both the restaurant and the diner. I think that is a different situation. In those cases, folks often end up on a friendly basis with one another and that can have its own rewards, which IMO is different than outright graft.

Yup, aint it great? The rewards of being a regular can be great and also intangible.

He tried to slip me a $20, and while I was sorely tempted to take it and seat him in the next avaliable table, I didn't. It really made me laugh, actually. I just sort of started giggling and couldn't stop.
That's a classy way to handle it without causing embarrassment and hurt feelings for years to come.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are clubs where I'm known to management as a regular, and I get comped drinks all the time. It would never occur to me not to tip the waitress for bringing them to me. After all, it's the same work for her whether or not I pay for the drink. Is that even controversial?

But what does that have to do with bribing the Maitre d' at a restaurant?

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

However if it's posted what tables cost and you wind up next to the rest room - everyone will know you decided to go "economy." Hence the problem with posting table rates in restaurants.

If you're seated next to the rest room (and it's obviously a crappy table) it's going to be pretty obvious that you're going "economy" whether prices are posted or not, isn't it?

Not true at all - sometimes people are seated there and just accept it. If they say nothing, that's where they'll stay. And their bill could run very high and they might tip 25-30 percent. And sometimes people accept it because the restaurant is truly full and they choose not to wait for a better table.

The problem I have with this whole thread are the terms tipping and bribery, which was regrettably used in the title. Unfortunately, people are using the terms interchangeably. They are totally different. A bribe is an illegal extortion of money for a favor/service. A tip is given freely to someone for a favor/service and is not illegal.

When I tip a host/hostess, I have a specific reason and will make that reason known. And no other patrons will ever know because it's done privately, discreetly and without fanfare (and there are many, many ways of doing this). That's a big difference than being the victim of bribery.

And yes it occurs at Per Se too. When I was there, it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Since they knew this already because they asked on the phone if it was a special occasion, I discreetly handed the appropriate person $50 when I entered and said thank you for asking and appreciated the special treatment and requested table. No one else knew - not even my wife. I was thanking them in advance to guarantee those "special" services and to show my appreciation - my choice, my $50 to do with as I please. Would I have gotten the same service without the $50? Probably, but on this occasion, I chose not to take the chance.

If I walk into a restaurant and ask how long a wait it is for a table and am told an hour, but for $50 you can be seated right away - that's bribery. Let's not confuse the two terms.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aside from everything else, it's just as much work for the bartender to make you a free drink as it is for him or her to make you a drink you're charged for.  Why wouldn't you tip?

We are agreeing entirely too much here sneakeater.

The planets must be aligned...

:biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That the MD gets to decide where different diners are seated does not mean that these are his seats to sell. His job is (or I think it is) to make sure that the maximum number of people are comfortable and that the dining room runs smoothly. To that end he may put the underdressed in an area where passers-by don't see them and thereby gain a poor impression of the establishment, just as he may put families with children in an area where they are less likely to disturb other diners

I agree with this description. And yet I note that even it accepts that the MD/hostess makes decisions based on profiling (underdressed, children).

I do think that the MD "profiles" and I'm okay with him/her doing it.

A few years ago I was attending a meeting in New Orleans. One of my colleagues asked me if I'd like to join him for lunch, and I accepted. I'd seen a restaurant (don't recall the name) in the neighborhood that looked nice, upmarket, and we went there. No reservation, pretty busy, so when were shown upstairs to a sort of mezzanine I wasn't bothered, assuming that we were getting not the absolutely best seats but then I wasn't there for the seats, I was there for the food and the company.

We were seated at what turned out to be a very nice table, right in front of a large floor to ceiling window that overlooked the sidewalk and from which we were at last partly visible. As I was noticing what a nice table it actually was I became aware of a bit of an uproar at a table nearby: two women seated in the row of tables behind us (already seated when we arrived), still with a view but not "viewable" from the street, were having a heated discussion with the maitre d'. Both were wearing short and flip flops and one was explaining in a peeved voice that she'd booked weeks in advance and had specifically requested the table at which we'd been seated. He explained that he'd be happy to move them to another table, but that our table was occupied and he could hardly ask us to move.

I don't know for sure the extent to which our dress (professional, skirt and heels for me, jacket and tie for him) and/or demeanor (quiet) influenced that maitre d', but I have a feeling that is was not insignificant.

Can you pee in the ocean?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...