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Bribes to the Maitre D'


Dignan
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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 here you've put a finger on one reason the whole idea bothers me. It isn't the hostess or M D's item to sell, so why should they benefit? Shall we extend the practice to busboys to insure clean silverware and refilled waterglasses? No, because it's something we feel we are entitled to when we decided to patronize the restaurant, and busboys have no power anyway. But when it comes to the part when I actually come through the door and ask for a seat, I've got to grease this one person to get there? It's the restaurants seat to give, not the Hostess' or M D's to sell or deny.

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

I partially addressed this briefly up thread, and yes, I do. My first tip to a bartender who is not already a familiar is overly generous to help make me memorable. If a bartender "buys me one," which is the euphemism in these parts, they receive the same tip I would have made if I had been charged. And I realize that goes to the point about whether it's theirs to sell and admitted in my earlier post that, though I never thought of it as such, my intention is to influence their behavior and thus it is a parrallel to which I do subscribe.

I've asked bartenders about comping drinks and been told various things about having a certain allowance for it, and spillage, and whatnot. In other words, the implication was that it was an accepted, planned for practice and occurred as part of the course of running a bar. Is this a point that can be made with regard to the Hostess/M D'? (And I admit my point is only anecdotal and therefor would need more support from someone in the industry -- Katie?) And I would have, in the normal course of events, tipped these bartenders anyway, after they gave me what I asked for.

But your point is taken.

Here I am!

This practice varies in restaurants. Some places have a "comp" check with a certain allowance for the bartender. Other places you ask the manager if it's OK to buy Customer X a drink and you ring it onto the check and the manager comps it off for you so the customer can see the pre-comp total on the bill. It's different everywhere.

The "spill" check is for exactly that, accounting for waste, and putting a beverage that was consumed in its entirety on to that check is quite simply stealing from your employer. So is merely pouring the drink and giving to a customer without any record of it. These are offenses worthy of being terminated, IMO.

As for the host(ess) and/or M'd, I personally think it's sleazy, but I've certainly seen it happen. Whomever said the job is to maximize seating and minimize chaos was correct. The one that can turn over the tables, keep folks waiting the least amount of time and make sure everything is running smoothly is doing the best job. Sometimes that's the reservationist who isn't present on the evening in question.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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.

Now I'm going to go up into space, but I think this is different.

In this case, you weren't trying to induce them to give you something that would have to be taken away from someone else. Service, unlike seating, isn't a zero-sum game. I can see how you'd think the tip is saying something along the lines of, this is a very special night for us -- you've already recognized it is -- and since you have, I'm giving you this money to thank you and make sure you keep doing so. But everyone else in the restaurant wasn't going to get worse service just because you secretly paid them off in hopes of getting better service.

It's sort of like saying, "I'm going to be especially demanding tonight, and I'm tipping you in advance in recognition of the fact that I'm really expecting your best."

When you bribe for a good table, you're paying them to give someone else a worse table. When you bribe to jump a line, you're paying them to make someone else wait longer.

Both cases seem different from your anniversary tip.

This is also why I think you miss the mark when you say that, since the payment for a good table is voluntary, the payor isn't the "victim" of bribery. Sure, you're right about the payor -- but that doesn't mean there isn't a victim. In this case, the victim is the other similarly-situated diner who got a worse table. (To repeat, this is different from your Per Se "anniversary" tip to ensure especially good service.) If they're auctioning off the tables, they should be upfront about it.

Edited by Sneakeater (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.

But that was before he realized he was dealing with Abe Froman :smile:

I've always had great luck with the pre-tip, whether it was giving the bartender a $10 when everyone had drink tickets (no wait for me the whole night), or spotting the waiter a $20 at an unlimited champagne/vodka drinks buffet (never left the table except for the bathroom).

I could easily see the money refused, or kept to no benefit, so I understand those against the practice, though I can't see it as immoral. Of course it took me a while to figure out MD was Maitre D' and not medical doctor.

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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This practice varies in restaurants.  Some places have a "comp" check with a certain allowance for the bartender.  Other places you ask the manager if it's OK to buy Customer X a drink and you ring it onto the check and the manager comps it off for you so the customer can see the pre-comp total on the bill.  It's different everywhere.

This is how it generally works when I'm getting comped drinks, and I just tip on the pre-comp amount, assuming I'm not too hammered to remember to do it, in which case I usually remember the next day and make it up next visit because of course I'm generally comped places where I'm a regular.

The "spill" check is for exactly that, accounting for waste, and putting a beverage that was consumed in its entirety on to that check is quite simply stealing from your employer. So is merely pouring the drink and giving to a customer without any record of it. These are offenses worthy of being terminated, IMO.

This happens less frequently. Bottomless glass of beer if I'm dining alone at the bar if I'm traveling, so not too egregious. I've had bartenders offer me a drink when working on a drink recipe (they say, at least), and again that seems okay. I don't necessarily finish the drink (it's only happened once or twice) since the point was to taste it.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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I've had bartenders offer me a drink when working on a drink recipe (they say, at least), and again that seems okay.

When I'm working on a drink recipe at work, I'm still expected to ring in what I've used and have a manager comp it off. There has to be a record of it for inventory comparison, and to be certain that free booze isn't crossing the bar. If it isn't rung in and then comped it looks like it was "stolen".

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I've had bartenders offer me a drink when working on a drink recipe (they say, at least), and again that seems okay.

When I'm working on a drink recipe at work, I'm still expected to ring in what I've used and have a manager comp it off. There has to be a record of it for inventory comparison, and to be certain that free booze isn't crossing the bar. If it isn't rung in and then comped it looks like it was "stolen".

Would the customer necessarily see that charge, though?

Can you pee in the ocean?

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The flip side of the Maitre d' "profiling" is that if I go somewhere where I or someone else in my party is underdressed (or behaving badly), it doesn't bother me in the least when we get stuck off to the side. I understand perfectly.

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I've had bartenders offer me a drink when working on a drink recipe (they say, at least), and again that seems okay.

When I'm working on a drink recipe at work, I'm still expected to ring in what I've used and have a manager comp it off. There has to be a record of it for inventory comparison, and to be certain that free booze isn't crossing the bar. If it isn't rung in and then comped it looks like it was "stolen".

Would the customer necessarily see that charge, though?

No. Customer has no need to see it. But there has to be a record of product used.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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When you bribe for a good table, you're paying them to give someone else a worse table.  When you bribe to jump a line, you're paying them to make someone else wait longer.

Both cases seem different from your anniversary tip.

This is also why I think you miss the mark when you say that, since the payment for a good table is voluntary, the payor isn't the "victim" of bribery.  Sure, you're right about the payor -- but that doesn't mean there isn't a victim.  In this case, the victim is the other similarly-situated diner who got a worse table.  (To repeat, this is different from your Per Se "anniversary" tip to ensure especially good service.)  If they're auctioning off the tables, they should be upfront about it.

I'm not tipping someone so another person gets a bad table, someone is going to get that table whether I tip or not. I'm making sure that someone isn't me. And sometimes, depending on the situation, I would take that table.

I don't recall in 35 plus years of restaurant going, someone jumping a line. It is rare when you see a line in front of a host/hostess anyway. What has happended - you may show up without a reservation and ask for table with a tip, knowing it's a very crowded night. Under those circumstances you would get a table before other people who didn't have a reservation. And I don't see anything wrong with that - money does make the world go around. I don't consider that jumping a line, it's good business based on supply/demand.

But under no circumstances are these bribes, they are tips. To call them bribes is a disservice to people who work long hours in the restaurant industry.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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Seriously, I don't think bribes have to be induced by the recipient in order to be considered bribes. Say I go and offer some judge, out of the blue, $100,000 to decide a case my client's way. That's a bribe, whether or not he asked me for it.

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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.

go to Newark. try and take a cab from outside, but not one of the authorized ones who pay the airport a concession fee, rather one of the normal guys who's just dropped someone off.. see how the security responds.. call it a bribe or call it a licensing fee, you're just buying into the institutionalization if it..

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Seriously, I don't think bribes have to be induced by the recipient in order to be considered bribes.  Say I go and offer some judge, out of the blue, $100,000 to decide a case my client's way.  That's a bribe, whether or not he asked me for it.

It's a bribe because you're asking him to do something illegal. Bribery is against the law, according to the legal definition. Asking for a better table, better service, better parking spot, watching your car, cleaning your carpets, shining your shoes, mowing your lawn, examining your bird, getting rid of the trash - not bribes - tips.

However asking to get rid of the body - that's a bribe.

Before you legal beagles go crazy, I realize the word "bribe" in and of itself is not always illegal. But it has come to mean that in our everyday language and that's what I'm referring to here - the connotation of the word, not its official definition.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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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?
Because it's what I chose to give them, from myself, for doing their jobs exceptionally well. Not to ensure that they treated me better than anyone else or gave me preferential treatment.

No, I would not expect to be treated like royalty if I never went back to a place. I suppose I should have been more specific: "and then if/when I go back I am treated like royalty." blah blah. I'm sure you knew what i meant. Pssst: sometimes I do it at places where I don't go back.

People who don't drink alcohol can not drink after service just as well. And I"m guessing you've never worked BOH, Rich, else you wouldn't think it was even a possibility to send a round to the kitchen in the middle of service! :laugh:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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To me, the "tip/bribe" distinction is that tips come after the service, and bribes come before.

So then, accrding to the above, I did bribe the person at Per Se. My friend did bribe the cook at Opa. I did bribe my wife by giving her a ring before we were married. And all those people who buy things on ebay are bribing the seller. :wink:

Rich Schulhoff

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

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

But as I said above, that's just another way of seating you according to your appearance.

Ooookay. But I still wasnt interested in bribing the hostess to change things. And I wasn't above giving a lousy tip and being sure the server/ess and the manager knew just why.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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To me, the "tip/bribe" distinction is that tips come after the service, and bribes come before.

So then, accrding to the above, I did bribe the person at Per Se. My friend did bribe the cook at Opa. I did bribe my wife by giving her a ring before we were married. And all those people who buy things on ebay are bribing the seller. :wink:

I'm sure your wife would have married you without the ring, Rich. :unsure:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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People who don't drink alcohol can not drink after service just as well.  And I"m guessing you've never worked BOH, Rich, else you wouldn't think it was even a possibility to send a round to the kitchen in the middle of service!  :laugh:

Seriously, I'm not sure what you mean by the first sentence.

Actually was a dishwasher in high school. Saw many chefs and other help have a drink or two while they were working. Why would that be a problem (unless they got drunk - but I never witnessed that)?

Rich Schulhoff

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

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[i'm sure your wife would have married you without the ring, Rich.    :unsure:

You obviously never met my wife. :laugh:

Rich Schulhoff

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

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

But as I said above, that's just another way of seating you according to your appearance.

Ooookay. But I still wasnt interested in bribing the hostess to change things. And I wasn't above giving a lousy tip and being sure the server/ess and the manager knew just why.

I hope it's obvious by now that I don't disagree with you in the least bit.

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i grease pretty regularly.. i'm 28, my dad showed me how when i was 16.. my girlfriend loves trendy restaurants and clubs, my schedule is too hectic to make a reservation.. if i'm dropping $200-300 for dinner, the extra $20 doesn't make much difference to me up front.. it does cut down on the wait, in even the most crowded of restaurants, to one cocktail at the most.. much better than the 90 minutes that most people are waiting, even those with reservations.. there's a certain type of restaurant that holds tables for walk-ins/regulars/friends and yet still overbooks.. that's the type of place that's going to take the grease.. I've never even tried to grease at a palce like Lupa, it doesn't feel like the right type of place to do so.. that steak place in brooklyn or midtown?? yeah, it's happening there too..

a club is open market for greasing.. that's what they're there for.. i disagree with the dude wlaking up to the bouncers and giving them each a hundred in front of everyone, but i prefer to be discreet with things like this.. in vegas the maitre d' at the restaurant in the hotel that also houses the club can always make it happen with the bouncers.. vegas is built on a culture of tipping like no place else in this world.. the law doesn't allow you to hail a cab on the strip and its expected that you tip a buck to the doorman who whistles and opens the door for you, but nowhere else in the world would people willingly do this in the masses that they do.

be discreet with it, do it with confidence, and it can allow you to live with a lot less planning..

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This thread's about bribes, so I'm not talking about tipping.

However often they happen, and however well-rationalized they are, taking bribes are all about lowering standards.

That said, I'm going to give it a try. Can anyone tell me how to explain to my boss that the proposal she's waiting on from me is going to cost her?

Also, when's the right time to "request" the "comfy" handcuffs from the arresting officer?

I mean, since bribes are no big deal....

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

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