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Bribes to the Maitre D'


Dignan
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In other words, bribe at sleazy places, but don't at non-sleazy places.  We're probably on the same page.

yeah.. i went back and read the article that's referenced in the initial post, as well as the Gourmet Magazine article that prompted it (http://tinyurl.com/mdf73 will get you the text).. i've tried to grease at Bathazar before and been told its not necessary and been seated pretty quickly, even with a scrum of people waiting..

sleazy place might be a bit of a stretch, but it's helped in a bunch of random spots..

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I have discretely slipped a $20 to the hostess at China Grill/Miami and was shortly shown to a prime table...after being told there was an hour + wait. It's not something I commonly do but Ms 9 was starving and I was getting heat to do something.

I've often seen it done at Joe's Stone Crab...never done it; but I don't think a $20 does much there. I think it's considered a regular practice there.

At a boxing match in AC, a friend gave $50 to an usher...and we were quickly taken to empty ringside seats...

I'm not 100% comfortable doing it personally; but I don't see anything wrong with it.

What I've also seen is a quick transfer of $ to the MD after the meal..presumably by regulars who want to insure future good table selection. Subtle and elegant by both tipper and tippee..simple handshake with a folded bill slipped into a suit coat pocket.

If I recall the old article, there were places in NY that completely discouraged it and others were very open to it.

If done clumsily, you run the risk of being embarassed..or having your $ taken..and don't get your preferential seating..neither a happy outcome.

Edited by 9lives (log)
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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?

Because the reason it is "free" is that he/she stole the ingrediants, and the glass, and the barback, from their employer. Therefore it's only free to me, except that I tipped on it. It's not free for the guy that paid for it all in the first place. Who's gettin' ahead? Me and the bartender.

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yeah.. i went back and read the article that's referenced in the initial post, as well as the Gourmet Magazine article that prompted it (http://tinyurl.com/mdf73 will get you the text)..  i've tried to grease at Bathazar before and been told its not necessary and been seated pretty quickly, even with a scrum of people waiting.. 

sleazy place might be a bit of a stretch, but it's helped in a bunch of random spots..

A really interesting article. To see tactics like that working at places like Le Bernardin and Ducasse is quite surprising. I'm kind of ambivalent to the situation, as I have no problem making reservations and generally don't eat at scene-y places, but have no problem paying for a great experience, be it a bribe, tip, or anything else. I feel like there are more important things in life to worry about than spending an extra twenty or fifty dollars for a prime table.

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I'm kind of ambivalent to the situation, as I have no problem making reservations and generally don't eat at scene-y places, but have no problem paying for a great experience, be it a bribe, tip, or anything else.  I feel like there are more important things in life to worry about than spending an extra twenty or fifty dollars for a prime table.

The problem with it's not made public information. If there's a surcharge for a prime table let all the customers know what it is.

Again, I'm waiting to find out how much I can charge my boss for work that is:

-turned in prior to the deadline

-on time

-late

And how can I get in on this undeclared income gig?

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

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The problem with it's not made public information.  If there's a surcharge for a prime table let all the customers know what it is.

Information isn't always public -- or free or perfect. Why is that a bad thing? Shouldn't someone who works to discover information (like the right price, or that there is a price at all) benefit from that effort?

Again, I'm waiting to find out how much I can charge my boss for work that is:

-turned in prior to the deadline

-on time

-late

Where I work, it is more like the post-tip (or lack thereof). Some reward might follow based on your performance:

consistently early and high quality --> bonus/raise/promos

consistently on time --> status quo

consistently late --> looking for a new gig

And how can I get in on this undeclared income gig?

Work in the FOH? In Vegas?

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To me, the "tip/bribe" distinction is that tips come after the service, and bribes come before.

Does that mean when a place such as Per Se states there's a 22% service charge, they're asking you for a bribe because you're being told to tip before the fact? And what about those places where there's an 18% charge for parties of six or more? Are they asking you for a bribe? And how about a reception where the tip is added before the event - another bribe being asked?

And finally, if tipping is after the fact, then what about the dirivitive of the word tip - "to insure promptness?" How can you insure anything after the fact?

It seems to me the founding fathers of tip knew what they were doing - show the people the money and get the best service. All others beware.

As many people said on a tipping thread a few months back - being a professional waiter/waitress is one of the few professions (and possibly only) where people get to decide a salary after the service has been performed via the tip or bribe or feudal stipend. It seems we got it backwards.

Maybe we should change the menu to read "... a 20% bribe will be added to your bill because we can't insure anything our wait staff does - so no tipping allowed."

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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And how can I get in on this undeclared income gig?

Become a taxi driver.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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Information isn't always public -- or free or perfect.  Why is that a bad thing?  Shouldn't someone who works to discover information (like the right price, or that there is a price at all) benefit from that effort?

Where I work, it is more like the post-tip (or lack thereof).  Some reward might follow based on your performance:

  consistently early and high quality --> bonus/raise/promos

  consistently on time --> status quo

  consistently late --> looking for a new gig

And how can I get in on this undeclared income gig?

Work in the FOH? In Vegas?

I appreciate the "tips," heh heh. But I'm not looking to switch jobs or cities. And I insist on keeping the discussion on bribes, not tips.

Half-seriously I ask, why should some employees be allowed to run a personal concession stand? Our receptionist doesn't demand that people pony up before she announces them. And here's another thing: I'm expected to bring my best performance to the clients our non-profit serves because it's my job.

In terms of public information, I think what it would do is reveal the essential tackiness of bribing. But, we do have prices on menus. There are even supplemental charges on prix fixe menus. Hell, there's "water service." Why NOT have supplemental service charges?

So, perhaps an elegantly lettered sign at the host stand, listing your service options. Better yet, here's an excerpt from the script for the phone reservationist on "Selling Up on Service Options":

"We value our customers at Chez Dewey Cheatum & Howe. We have a range of service level options. The base level -- with no additional front-load fees -- includes seating of our hostess' choice, after waiting for your reservation for up to a maximum of 15 minutes. A captain will nod in a friendly manner as he walks by but not stop. This is a fantastic plan for beginners because all you pay is the bill, the tax, and the tip.

"But perhaps you're ready to step away from the pack. If you're ready to experience real service satisfaction, a crumpled, greasy twenty will entitle you to a smile from our hostess that shows both her upper and lower teeth as she whisks you to a table that is guaranteed to be no less than 20 ft from the john. As if that weren't enough, our Floor Manager will personally decrumb your linen and engage you in thoughtful but nonintrusive conversation about What You Thought of the Meal. Then all you have to do is pay the bill, the tax, and the tip.

"Admittedly, this is as much as most people are willing to invest in a meal. And that's okay. We like that because if all customers were willing to really commit to truly fine service, well, it wouldn't be all that special, would it. If everybody was getting the same good service. However, we do have a premium service level that, if you insist on pressing a C-note into the well-manicured hand of our Maitre-D', can be activated by his pressing a secret button under the bar. I'm not at liberty to divulge the details, but rest assured you'll be getting to know the chef very well. And then you'll pay the bill, the tax, and the tip."

***

I'm sticking with my extreme beauty -- it really is extraordinary and I haven't even touched on my mind-blowing inner radiance -- as my palm-grease of choice.

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

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I appreciate the "tips," heh heh.  But I'm not looking to switch jobs or cities.  And I insist on keeping the discussion on bribes, not tips. 

:biggrin:

What's in the word? If you call them bribes, you're clearly communicating what you think of them. I'll continue to call them tips since I don't see anything wrong with them.

Half-seriously I ask, why should some employees be allowed to run a personal concession stand?  Our receptionist doesn't demand that people pony up before she announces them.  And here's another thing:  I'm expected to bring my best performance to the clients our non-profit serves because it's my job.   

In terms of public information, I think what it would do is reveal the essential tackiness of bribing.  But, we do have prices on menus.  There are even supplemental charges on prix fixe menus.  Hell, there's "water service." Why NOT have supplemental service charges?

Why should they run their own personal concession stand? Well, simply put, because they can. They are, due to either incredible luck, incredible hard work, or a combination of both, in control of a scarce resource, and there's a market that is willing to bid up the price of that resource from the normal price of zero.

If you're explicit with the prices of pre-paid service, you'll only drive the real price up. You've educated at least part of the market on the option that didn't know before. Presuming that at least part of this newly educated market pre-tips, you've just made the limited resource that much more limited, and the price follows upwards -- even if the posted prices don't.

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As I understand from this thread, bribes are different from tips because tips are about responding to service provided. Personally, I think they're inappropriate methods of compensation. Service should be an item on the bill so customers can't nickel and dime staff. But that's a whole other discussion.

When I'm talking about bribes I'm talking about giving people money before they've performed a service. So, if you want to call this "pre-tipping," or something, fine. Don't forget to share your loot with your coworkers and pay your taxes on it, though.

And let's hope that this mnd-set doesn't catch on with transplant doctors.

***

My boss replied to my deman -- er, request for bribes as follows:

Work turned in ahead of schedule: I get to keep my job.

Work turned in on schedule: I get to keep my job.

Work turned in late: I get to keep my job but I have to bribe her.

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

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I go to Vegas often for work. When I land in the airport, I tip one of the porters by the luggage carousel 5 bucks and he moves me to a special taxi line at the airport.. Avoiding the normally half hour taxi line.. I can get in most restaurants there with no reservation after tipping 20 bucks... Although, when they use the hot girls at the hostess desk, they normally dont understand the concept...Also a 100 bucks to a casino host per trip gets me free nights at the hotel and comped meals..

If I sit at a sushi bar, I normally put in 10 to 20 bucks if they have a tip jar.. This normally gets me around the same amount of money back in sushi...

When I go to Carolines Comedy Club in NY 20 bucks to the guy who seats you allows one to choose the table you want..

In New York, I tip often.. I do over tip the first few drinks while sitting at a bar.. And always give 20 percent at I place a frequent.. I am more known for over eating then over tipping I guess.. At my local chinese, like most of the places I go often, they sit the two of us at a four top because they know the dishes arent going to fit otherwise.. :biggrin:

My fish guy gets money, my deli meat slicer gets money, my butcher gets money,I even tip the guy where I buy beer from at the bodega...All these things get me better service and products...

I dont think its immoral.. I am assuming they are reporting all tips to the IRS as well as there employers... I am a trusting guy and assume the best in people.. :biggrin:

Edited by Daniel (log)
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My fish guy gets money, my deli meat slicer gets money, my butcher gets money,I even tip the guy where I buy beer from at the bodega...All these things get me better service and products...

You tip the deli meat slicer?

Is it really a question of better service and better product? Or is it a question of feeling in control, the sense that the world works a certain way because you (and here I don't mean Daniel, but pretty much anybody) make it work that way?

Edited by therese (log)

Can you pee in the ocean?

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My new definitions:

Tip equals "to insure promptness" logically equals before the fact because of the word insure.

Bribe equals after the fact to make sure we get out of the resto alive.

Simple, it works - we can move on now. :laugh:

Rich Schulhoff

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

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My fish guy gets money, my deli meat slicer gets money, my butcher gets money,I even tip the guy where I buy beer from at the bodega...All these things get me better service and products...

You tip the deli meat slicer?

Is it really a question of better service and better product? Or is it a question of feeling in control, the sense that the world works a certain way because you (and here I don't mean Daniel, but pretty much anybody) make it work that way?

While I agree that the deli slicer may be a bit much, I do think it's about better service or product. If you can pay $5 to skip a 1/2 wait for a cab, that is better service, or at least a better experience, to me.

Sometimes one has to wait on line, or take what is given, and sometimes it doesn't matter. But on occasions when you don't want to, or can't wait; or you want something better than the standard being offered, a tip/bribe (I'm using the terms interchangeably and NOT including the illegal form of bribe) works wonders.

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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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)?

First: You'd said that during-shift drinks would be appreciated by those who don't consume alcohol. I say, they can appreciate it just as much after service.

Second: I wonder why any bartender/FOH staff would stop what they're doing and run around getting drinks for themselves and the BOH staff, during service. I wonder what any good chef or owner would do, if his line cooks stopped working and enjoyed a beer.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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I dont think its immoral.. I am assuming they are reporting all tips to the IRS as well as there employers... I am a trusting guy and assume the best in people..  :biggrin:

:laugh::laugh::laugh: Pollydaniel!

Hey: I go with the above-stated notion that if it was 'kosher,' why hide it? These days, people can rationalize just about anything. In school, students used to get copies of the tests and pass them around before test day. I say, "cheating." They say, "study aids." I did make the point that if it was, in fact, a study aid, why was it being passed below the desks?

To me, there's a short leap from that type of thing to taking bribes. Someone I worked for used one vendor because they sent her and her husband, also a chef, to the Red Sea every year to dive. As "friends," of course.

"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)?

First: You'd said that during-shift drinks would be appreciated by those who don't consume alcohol. I say, they can appreciate it just as much after service.

Second: I wonder why any bartender/FOH staff would stop what they're doing and run around getting drinks for themselves and the BOH staff, during service. I wonder what any good chef or owner would do, if his line cooks stopped working and enjoyed a beer.

First - I don't think I said that at all. I never brought up the subject of drinks. I said what purpose does your round of drinks serve to those who don't consume alcohol? After all, soft drinks are free to employees (in most places).

I don't see it as time consuming for someone to run a beer or two into the kitchen, or even a scotch and soda. I don't think you see many BOH people drinking Brandy Alexander's. And I think most anyone can sip a drink and continue to work - it may take two or three seconds to do that. You frequently see staff take water, it takes no more time to drink water then it does a beer.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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First - I don't think I said that at all. I never brought up the subject of drinks. I said what purpose does your round of drinks serve to those who don't consume alcohol? After all, soft drinks are free to employees (in most places).

I don't see it as time consuming for someone to run a beer or two into the kitchen, or even a scotch and soda. I don't think you see many BOH people drinking Brandy Alexander's. And I think most anyone can sip a drink and continue to work - it may take two or three seconds to do that. You frequently see staff take water, it takes no more time to drink water then it does a beer.

And if the soft drinks aren't free ... or if someone would like a cocktail sans alcohol or a near-beer ... and if the place isn't too busy ... drinking water in 110 degree heat is a necessity. Drinking beer on the line is dangerous and stupid, and the beer would get warm.

I'm not convinced. But, if I say, UNCLE, can we stop? Pretty please? :wink:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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My fish guy gets money, my deli meat slicer gets money, my butcher gets money,I even tip the guy where I buy beer from at the bodega...All these things get me better service and products...

You tip the deli meat slicer?

giving the guy a buck at Katz's used to get you a sandwich that was twice as big.. nowadays everyone slips the dude a buck beforehand, so you have to give him two dollars to get the sandwich that's twice as big..

I'd forgotten about the Vegas tip to the redcap.. it's some of the best money ever spent, especially when the line is 30 minutes and it's 110 out..

greasing works because everyone doesn't do it, because the information isn't out there.. if everyone did it, it'd lose its effectiveness rather quickly.. the joe's stone crab example is a great one.. everyone tries to grease at Joe's.. the problem is they're trying to grease the wrong guy - the dude at the podium has little say in what names to call.. additionally, there's 50 people who've been waiting 90 minutes watching him like a hawk, ready to complain if they see him take anything to expedite things for someone else.. throw him something on the way out and you just might see a change the next time to go..

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Is it considered OK in most kitchens to drink on the clock? When I hear people talk about it, it's like it's something unusual. I would feel a little uneasy about sending alcoholic drinks to people on the job. Maybe I'm just thinking of one of Poppy Brite's restaurant novels, where a whole kitchen gets fired for drinking beer.

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Here's a question to those who grease:

When you pre-tip, you are essentially saying, "I'm better/busier/more important/richer/etc./choose-one-or-more-of-the-previous" than everyone else who has been waiting in line longer than I, so I deserve a table right now."

Why do you think you are better/busier/more important/richer/etc./choose-one-or-more-of-the-previous than everyone else who has been waiting in line longer than you, and why should you deserve a table before them (aside from being better, busier/more important/etc)?

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I just wish I could afford to do it. When I see it done, I'm totally envious.

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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Here's a question to those who grease:

When you pre-tip, you are essentially saying, "I'm better/busier/more important/richer/etc./choose-one-or-more-of-the-previous" than everyone else who has been waiting in line longer than I, so I deserve a table right now."

Why do you think you are better/busier/more important/richer/etc./choose-one-or-more-of-the-previous than everyone else who has been waiting in line longer than you, and why should you deserve a table before them (aside from being better, busier/more important/etc)?

Not that I use this tactic, but if we all acknowledge an underground economy like this exists, why shouldn't someone take advantage of it?

To some people paying $50 to get a table now garners more utility than waiting a half-hour or any other given amount of time. The purported immorality of the tip/bribe clearly doesn't outweigh their desire to receive prompt serice and I don't really they can be faulted for having what is really just a difference in morals. At the end of the day, that this practice is generally frowned upon doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Those who grease may well think they're better/busier/etc but quite frankly are only paying for a convenience.

Personally, I still find this practice a little bit smarmy, but if it works, it works. We live in a capitalistic society and undergound economies like this are pretty much unavoidable.

Edited by BryanZ (log)
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