Pub etiquette

Pub etiquette

Our band had a dispute with the owner of the bar in which we play. We play a regular gig at the pub. We are not paid, but we are provided beer and allowed to collect tips. The dispute arose when a band member, as is his wont, passed the hat along the bar. The owner became quite angry and publically dressed down the band member for what he claims was improper pub etiquette. He stated the tips could only be collected from the tables and not the bar, as the bar is "his territory" and by trespassing the band is stealing his tips.

I am curious to know if indeed the bar is off limits to tip collection for musicians or if he is talking out his arse.

John McDaniel

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My feeling si that the bar is his territory. He probably feels that when you’re passing a hat at the bar that poeple might put his tips in your hat. It’s too bad you can’t just get him to put out some cash to keep you guys coming in. Having a tip jar on the session table doesn’t leave enough room for the pints.

Good luck.

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Hey Jack, I actually agree with you!
Anyway if it’s his pub he makes the rules. Your deal is the free drinks and whatever you get in the hat around the tables. If the atmosphere is good for the session then that’s all that matters so the tunes can flow along with the beer.

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It’s his pub. His rules. It’s not a public place

Posted .

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What’s a Publican that opens a second pub?
A Republican!!
Sorry just couldn’t resist
I’ll buy you all a pint for that.

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Depends where you are. Are you in the States? If so then I can see why it happened because bar tipping is customary. If you were in the UK or Oz or somewhere, I’d think the barman needs to chill out a bit because it’s not as though he’d expect to be getting tips anyway. Whilst I agree that it’s his pub and his rules, he might have thought about pulling you all aside after the session for a private and friendly chat about it, as opposed to giving you a "public dressing down". Not good business sense if you ask me…

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Groannnn…that’s terrible David!

Anyway, Dow has it about right IMHO. But just to add the guy does seem a bit of a knob. Is there no other pub you can approach in your neighbourhood for a session?

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He should be paying you for entertaining his customers.I don’t think you should encourage gombeen men they just take take take.All the best.

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You get free drink and have a tip jar ?

You’re doing alright.

Posted by .

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Jack’s and Michael are right.

I’ll go and sit with them.

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I’d imagine that the barmaids would be p*ssed that the musicians were "stealing" their tips. If you p*ss off the barmaid and you’re getting your grog on the house, well, that’s really a good thing to do, eh? If the musicians want tips—and many people are happy to throw a few bucks into a jar if they like what they hear—then put a clearly labeled pitcher near the players, and give the tips to the waiter(s) who bring you beers. But keep the pitcher away from the bar.

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My question is directed to whether this is an established custom in pubs, not whether the owner was entitled to make the distinction. His argument was that it this is well established pub etiquette, not that he was entitled to make the choice—which I don’t argue with. Has anyone heard of this "rule" being applied anywhere else?

John

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"i wouldnt worry about a tip jar its a bit shameful as its a form of begging really isn’t it"

No.

KFG

Posted by .

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It is common for the pubs I’ve played in to have a tip jar by the musicians for the musicians, and one on the bar for the barmaids and waitresses. I wouldn’t mix the two, myself.

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Where are you mac? There isn’t a "no collecting tips at the bar" custom in Canada. I can’t speak for other areas. Standard practice at the tip-driven sessions and shows I’ve been to is that the music stops, the leader calls the entire bar to attention with a mighty good-natured bellow and announces the tip jar is about to make the rounds and the tip-collector circulates wherever he pleases, bar included, to make sure all the patrons have an opportunity to show their appreciation.

Whatever you do, don’t be picking up some silly attitude that collecting tips is anything like begging, or that there’s any shame in it, as the patrons can smell that on you and you won’t make half as much off them.

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I go along with Brian - I don’t like the idea myself, and when they used to have it in the Green Man in Harlesden I used to hate going round and would have preferred Bradley to do it - it’s more his thing! That said I’ve nothing against anyone else doing it at their session, and still think your governor is a pratt….he should be giving you free drinks and food and paying you and ordering cabs for you and…..

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Personally I cannot imagine the idea of a tip-jar at a session. Anyone would think it was a performance or something.
Ooops that was another thread.

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Many sessions out there where folk don’t play for tips and buy their own beer ?

Posted by .

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I’m gonna rip you a new one bribanjo, if you keep insisting playing for tips is "immoral."

Anyway, mac’s gig sounds like a show, not a session. To quote faust, "cop on".

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This incident involves a band that has had a regular gig at the establishment for five years. We rehearse, play festivals, etc.

John

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The beers should be on the house at a minimum. We don’t put out a tip jar for mere sessions (don’t go there…), but we do for performances.

What I really want to do is some busking. I want to see all those pretty coins and bills scattered about the red velvet of my open case!

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My personal opinion is that if the *owner* of the pub is anal about his tips when he’s already making a few dollars a glass for every pint your friends and fans are buying from him, he’s got no appreciation for the service you’re providing and how it enhances his business. I’d find somewhere else to play just on principle, even if it was exactly the same set-up (playing for tips) but for a decent publican who can grasp the concept that you being there is putting money in his pocket and show a bit of appreciation.

Personally I think collecting donations from the audience is a far more ethical and equitable way to be paid for your work as a musician than charging a flat rate per ticket.

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Just an observation here really, driven by the fact that in the States it’s much more common to have circulating bar staff/waitresses who will often be serving the musicians as well as the punters, rather than the Ireland/UK model where most patrons get most of their own drinks at the bar.

At the two local sessions we’ve run here in West-by-God-Texas, we’ve sometimes used and sometimes not used a tip jar. I guess I’d come down on the side of those who tend to avoid the tip jar. We’ll happily accept the tips but, *in a session context*, I prefer to be way more implicitly high-handed, with the unspoken attitude "you punters can’t possibly pay what this music is actually worth." I’d rather they offer to buy a round, even though we drink free.

My post is actually aimed more at the economics of US pubs. Session nights in this locale can be great fun for the musicians but pretty hard work for the bar staff—they’re busy and the range of drinks is much wider, while there’s often little cash coming from musicians who are drinking free.

On the other hand, the bar staff seem to like the session nights, as the clientele is more diversified, and because patrons tend to drink "grown-up" (e.g., more costly and therefore more lucrative) drinks—not 10p beer—and to tip more generously and consistently.

But at the same time, the fact that the players are drinking free (as it should be) does *not* mean that the barmaids are working for free. In our sessions we’ve always striven to make sure the bar staff is very very happy—that way, they serve as our advocates to the owners.

At our previous locale, we always had the same waiter/barman every week. He liked the session because there was good tip money from the punters, because we were polite, because the music was not skull-crushingly loud, and because we musicians *always* made a point of collecting tips for bar staff. That way, the bar staff don’t feel they’re taking a loss. We musicians figure that "feeding the staff kitty" by throwing in a few quid apiece at the end of the evening both and sharing with bar staff both (a) is cheaper than if we were paying for our drink and (b) good politics and helps ensure welcome from the bar staff.

At our current locale, this has worked out well enough that the owner makes sure she’s working the bar on the nights we’re there. Some nights the "staff kitty" is larger, sometimes smaller, but I always make sure the landlady knows the wad of cash going into her tip jar comes from us.

To me, the really crucial observation is to make sure that the bar staff like having you there.

chris smith

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As a band, I think you should get paid, not rely on tips. Your local musicians’ union won’t be happy if they find out you’re undercutting their rates….

As for tip jars, the publican at my local session insists on setting out a tip jar for us (we didn’t want to bother). So in turn, we take fistfuls of cash from our tip jar each night and stuff them in the baristas’ tip jar. Everyone’s happy. (And we’ve used what’s left over to buy instruments for a lending library so people can try out uilleann pipes, say, without laying out the cash.)

Posted .

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I only perform in one "basket club" these days. It’s in my neighborhood.

The owner passes the jar himself because he wants me to be happy and come back, isn’t an idiot so he doesn’t think that my tips are somehow "stealing" from his and realizes that as the owner his concern is the overall health and profitability of the business.

Personally, since this is a gig, I think you should just find a better place to play where you are at least guarenteed a minimum against your tips. That gives the owner some personal incentive to see to it that the jar gets as full as possible.

KFG

Posted by .

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"We don’t put out a tip jar for mere sessions (don’t go there…), but we do for performances."

Interesting… for High-strung, the session has emerged as a lesser entity in the wake of the public performance controversy.

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It’s like a bad dream I can’t wake up from!

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My friends and I hosted a session at one of my favorite taverns here if SF in the late 80s. The barman couldn’t pay us because he didn’t have an entertainment license and wasn’t going to put out the big bucks to get one since we were the only regular music in his pub. He did provide free drink, and suggested a tip jar, but the idea of a tip jar at the session gave the wrong impression for me, so we went without it. The tip jar seemed to emphasize the public performance aspect of the session rather than a few folks getting together to share some tunes and conversation.

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Coffee, Kerri? *smirking emoticon*

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he should be thankful that he can get you to play for free.
i wouldnt bother playing there again.

Posted by .

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No Jack, I think he was referring to that rare creature, the meer-session. It is a social gathering of meerkats, and is quite similar to what we know as "sessions".

Posted by .

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hahahahahaha @ Jode

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I don’t know about talking out of his arse, but you should try telling him to stick the pub, and the tip jar, up his arse.

Workers of the world unite.

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By the way, they should be your opening lines in collective wage bargaining, the bit about sticking it, because he won’t want to lose you. If he wasn’t making money out of you, he wouldn’t have you there, so that puts you in a strong position.

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Bad choice of words on my part, Jack, and an unfortunate reading of value on your part. No value intended. I love sessions, and have played them for more than a decade in the U.S. and Ireland, but I’m leaning in the direction of no-tip-jars-at-sessions. Seems a bit unseemly.

The confusion on my part stems from a biweekly gig I participate in that’s kind of between a session and a performance at a local restaurant and pub. We sit on a low stage and sort of face the audience, and while they eat their grub, we play. They clap at the end, and we gently acknowledge that. It’s a bit more organized than a typical session, with regular players, but those who know the tunes and can contribute to the craic are invited to sit in. But it’s not a giant of circle of whoever shows up.

And no, we don’t get paid. We get beer and other spirits on the house, but even the dinners aren’t free. But we like the owner, and we get some gigs out of it occasionally.

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"If he wasn’t making money out of you, he wouldn’t have you there."

I’m not so naive to think this isn’t the case in most pubs, but I’m beginning to wonder if I live in a really odd town, where at least some fair portion of the pub owners encourage live music for its own sake, because they themselves enjoy it, and not because it makes them money. At least one pub here has subsidized music (and Irish music in particular), spending far more on it than it pays back, at least directly. Of course, they’ve earned a reputation for being a great supporter of the arts and local community, which no doubt does not hurt their business. But I like to think that pub owners and business owners are people too, some of whom have their own altruistic, socially contributory tendencies.

Posted .

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Similarly to High-strung, we play a regular bi-weekly "gig-with-guests-that-is-organized-like-a-session-thingy" (sorry Kerri, I’m trying to figure out how to word it without adding to your recurring nightmare) πŸ˜‰

This happens at a little pub/restaurant in the small community in which we live. And it has been a wonderful experience. The staff and the patrons both like having us there. The number of patrons and the length of time they stay increases on nights when we’re there. And the publican provides us with complimentary food and drink. So it is hard to say whether he actually nets any additional money by having us there.

We don’t put out a tip jar - but almost every night a customer will approach the bar and ask for a container to put out as a tip jar. So in this instance, we don’t feel like we’re begging for money, and we don’t feel obligated to just play "band sets" as a performance. But the customers often clap at the end of sets. And we know that the customers enjoy having us, because they’re the ones that are setting setting up a tip jar.

Of course, the contents of the tip jar pretty much always go directly to the wait staff, who take good care of us all night.

One of the best things about this gig is that early in the evening, there are a lot of families with children. And it’s great to see the looks on the faces of the kids, because in this day and age, it is a rarity for them to actually see someone sit down and play music.

Pete

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"We sit on a low stage and sort of face the audience, and while they eat their grub, we play. They clap at the end, and we gently acknowledge that. It’s a bit more organized than a typical session, with regular players, but those who know the tunes and can contribute to the craic are invited to sit in. But it’s not a giant of circle of whoever shows up."

With the exception of the low stage, this seems to describe a closed session (invitation only) more than a stage show. I think there are a few of these types of sessions in New York that I’ve heard about. Doesn’t Tony Demarco do one of these?

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Will, maybe you live in a healthy town? Up here in Calgary, it seems very much the opposite, at least in the sense that pub managers have little use for (traditional) music unless it’s bringing in cash. To the point where a bar manager has stood outside and counted the patrons that heard the music and looked like they were coming in to investigate.

Even busking here is difficult - people look at you like you’re from another planet, and genuinely don’t comprehend the concept of a bit of fun and the occasional tip. We have had sessions in a very supportive pub in the past, but that was an anomaly. Altruistic, socially contributory tendencies are thought to be bad for business. I’m not complaining, just saying that it probably has something to do with the spirit of the town or the zeitgeist or something.

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I find the implication that asking for tips at a session is dodgy, immoral, or unseemly pretty offensive. Quit it! It’s really starting to grate at me! Can you not just say "Hm, never seen it done, wouldn’t care for it myself." without casting your judgements on others who play for tips? It’s quite common around here. I’ve seen flamenco dancers, performance artists, session hosts and barmaids (on behalf of session hosts) all making the rounds through the pub with a hat. Think of it as a collection plate in church, will you, and quit implying by your poor choice of words that musicians who play for donations are wrong-headed.

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As a military brat who’s lived all over, I’d say Helena has a stronger sense of community and neighborliness than most other places I’ve lived. Not sure why, but it’s nice that it includes the business community. In this size town (28,000), we’re all neighbors, so we’re all practically on a first name basis. And a little altruism spreads like wildfire.

Posted .

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Seems to me Calgary is a great town to be in a bar band and a not-so-great place to be in a session.

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So who actually gets the tips at the end of the session ? I imagine they should be distributed evenly amongst all the musicians, good, bad or indifferent.

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You’re not alone Will,
both the Monday and wednesday sessions I go go to are supported (and funded) by landlords/landladies who just love having the music there. The session evenings rarely run at a profit in either establishment, and in one, it’s frequently just us and the landlady, plus two old muppet-like men, which suits us fine…
Mark

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Well, I’m definitely not trying to feed the flames here, but speaking for myself, and my perception of the whole tip issue:

I think there is quite a difference between setting a tip jar in plain site, and making the rounds with a hat. The former is much less like sitting on a street corner begging. It is like solicitors coming to your door - it is much more difficult to say "no" to someone who is in your face asking you for something. And I would just assume that we weren’t any more in the face of people than we already are by playing music. If they enjoy it enough to tip, then they’ll tip.

Now, having said that - I’m not playing for money. I’m not trying to make a living off of playing. I play for enjoyment purposes (mine and anyone listening) only. If I don’t get a single tip, that’s fine by me!

As far as comparing it to a collection plate in church, I would prefer that they put collection box at the entrance to the sanctuary in church instead of passing a plate (which makes you feel obligated because the guy next to you can see how much you contributed. It’s bordering upon extortion) πŸ˜‰

<cringing in anticipation of further discussion>

Pete

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Yep Mark, I imagine there are small-ish towns all over where neighborliness is the norm. And big cities often function well at the neighborhood level.

Mind you, Helena has its share of stick in the muds, too.

Pete, that was an interesting post coming from the "Reverend." *grin*

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I like playing for kids too. Sometimes we’ll play at a restaurant/pub on a Friday night, and if we get some small children, they always seem to know that it’s OK to dance in front of the stage. Their parents don’t know what to make of us and our music, but the kids pick it up immediately. Must be the groove.

We give our tips at the end of the night to the guy or girl who brought us our drinks. We don’t solicit tips, but it would be rude not to accept them if offered.

Kerri, relax a bit, eh? If you want to collect tips during a session, go for it. Seems like it would present problems of its own, but if someone’s bringing you drinks, well, there’s your solution. Like I said, if someone likes what you do and wants to pass you a few bucks in appreciation, it would be rude to turn it down.

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Well, Pete, except for that parallel to begging you were much closer to "don’t care for it myself" than bribanjo and high-strung, who seem to think it’s just plain tacky, and it’s nice you feel the same way about a collection plate in church - at least you’re consistent, if cheap. πŸ˜‰

The collection at the session I’m thinking of goes to the hosts, Pat, who aren’t paid to be there, who show up on time every week come hell or high water (or power outage as the case may be), and who negotiated the cheap beer deal the rest of us profit from. The owner of the pub is a nice guy and a music enthusiast who shows up at everybody’s concerts and CD releases and allows us to have the occasional lock-in (unheard of in Canada).

It’s the best session I’ve been to - ever - anywhere in the world - in terms of musicianship, atmosphere, interaction between the players and punters, and general warm-fuzzies.

Anyway, I know the hosts don’t give a petite morceau de merde what you think of their session so I don’t know why I’m getting so snarky on their behalf, but still, cop on.

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Ah, there’s the difference, Kerri—our session hosts are paid. And I said unseemly, not tacky.

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I sometimes play in Golden Gate Park on warm days and people passing by want to give me money sometimes. I tell them that I’m not busking, but just playing tunes where the temperature is more comfortable than my apartment. They look puzzled but are happy to keep their cash. One time two lovely girls looked at each other and shrugged, and then returned a short time later with a flower and placed it on my flute case. I think that was the best tip I ever received.

Sometimes at the session (paid anchors) people will insist on leaving tips. If it’s a $20 or more — I’ll buy a round for everyone playing. If it’s a few bucks we usually give it to whoever traveled the furthest, or whoever had to cross a toll bridge.

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"at least you’re consistent, if cheap"

Heh, I’m actually VERY generous in most cases. Especially when it comes to taking care of people who DO work for tips (waitresses, bartenders, etc. In the U.S., at least.) I have owned several bars and restaurants in my life, and I know how much those people make as a wage.

Maybe you could say I’m "selectively cheap" πŸ˜‰

Pete

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lol, ok pete. So if your employees get a wage AND tips, and that’s all well and good for you, why begrudge wageless musicians for pimping for tips?

To be clear, though, the vast majority of the folks in the pub have come specifically to hear this host and his friends play, or to chat with them, or to be where the action is. I wouldn’t be surprised if it triples or quadruples the revenue on the nights it’s happening, besides which the host does a fair bit of promoting on behalf of the pub. I assume he’s not asking for a wage out of pure generosity, as the publican seems to be a major lover of the arts, and a small businessman who (much like a musician) can use every extra bit of revenue he can get.

This is a pretty unique situation, I think, but a model that seems to work well when the publican and the musicians are friendly with each other, and the musicianship is obviously worth paying for, from a punter’s point of view.

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Has anyone heard of a session in Ireland that involved tipping jars and the likes?
Tipping is not a part of life here in Australia so this whole concept is quite alien to me - not meaning to be critical of those of you who are involved in this side of things.
Maybe the quality of our sessions here in West Oz is considerably inferior but I don’t think the bar-owner makes a huge profit out of us coming in and playing for free beer. But then having been to venerable almighty Dow’s session in Sydney - where the craic was mighty - I don’t think the punters cared too much about the music. It was more that the owner wanted to patronise the session or just liked having it there.

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Well, even if the pub I play in is making more money because of our session, that’s fine by me, we get a place to play every week, and free beer. Until recently, we didn’t have any kind of a tip jar, but we had enough patrons come by over the course of the evening holding out a fiver with this look like "nice job, where’ s the tip jar" so we’ve made one available. Any tips we make go to the bartender. I agree with Jack, keeping the bar staff happy is top priority!

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I meant a new attitude. What did you think I was talking about?

In Ireland session hosts are paid and nobody gets tipped - not even the bar staff. But that’s irrelevant to this discussion anyway, since I’m assuming John’s gig is in a country where people tip, or it wouldn’t have occured to him to start passing a hat around the pub, would it?

Money and music aren’t mutually exclusive concepts, bri. It’s not one or the other. A person *can* care about both and kill two birds with one stone by getting a bit of compensation for playing when he can.

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Dracula! That happens to be exactly what I’m reading at the moment. I think I’ll get back to it. It’s starting to get good. Later, skater.

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Wow, this has been a most interesting discussion and far more broad ranging that intended (thankfully)!! Since I started this thread, let me add a few things: (1) the episode took place in the USA. (2) the bartender/proprietor did apologize for "going over the top" (after the question was initially posed). So, the initial question appears to have been answered by the responses and the proprietor’s apology. Where it is appropriate to solicit tips, there is no recognized "pub etiquette" that makes the bar (as distinguished from other areas in the pub) "off limits" to tip solicitation. As to whether soliciation of tips in the first instance is appropriate, tasteful, righteous, let the debate continue. Thanks to everyone for their responses.

John

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If I were in a US bar, where there are both wait-staff and also bartenders, and a musician came along the bar with a tip jar, my sympathies would be entirely with the wait-staff, who in the US probably *would* lose money as a result.

chris smith

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Good point, Chris, I’ve always had a problem with the whole concept of tipping to begin with. It seems like a way for the owners to get away with paying a pittance to the people providing the service in their establishment. People should just be paid appropriately instead of relying on customer goodwill and courtesy to fill in the discrepancy.

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I agree with you totally, Chris. My wife worked several years tending bar and waiting tables. Had there been an employee bartender or waitstaff, we wouldn’t have ever thought about passing the hat—unless we had arranged a split with the bartender or waitperson in advance. And I agree with you, Jack. The whole tipping custom is fundamentally flawed because it gives the employer justification to underpay staff and is really false price advertising to the customer. They should pay fairly and set prices appropriately.

John

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When Pete says he’s generous, he means *generous* — it’s not unheard of at the sessions we regularly attend to give the wait staff a $40 tip at the end of the night between us all, although it’s normally something more like $20.

Sessions are a pain in the butt for waitstaff, even if they love having us there, and the karmic stress of having us when they DON’T like having us there is amazing (I’m speaking for their karma, not mine, but oh well). Sessions generally take up at least four tables worth of space and they could’ve turned the tables at least three times if not more during the period of your average session. That’s a lot of revenue to lose no matter what way you look at it.

Anyway, tipping didn’t used to be something that you did unless the service was very good. (Needless to say, I’m talking the US here.) Because of the wage issues involved, mentioned above, now staff depends on the tips to make a living wage, so I tip, and I tend to tip well, since I’ve been there myself. I’ve met people who refuse to tip on general principles, and fair play to them, but I’d rather make sure someone can make their rent and buy that extra brick of insulating material for their next meal right now.

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Zina, I wasn’t suggesting we don’t tip simply because it’s an archaic policy that favors the publican or restaurateur — I’m just pointing out the flaws with the concept. I understand that tipping is well established and not tipping would only hurt the person whose interests I’m advocating. I have no idea how to go about eliminating the practice — but I wish we could.

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I have no problem with tipping, and I don’t pity the poor wait-staff / bartenders at all. I’ve known people who take home 100 - 200 a night in tax free tip money. Poor babies.

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Jack, what would you do instead of tipping them like, put a flower in their hair? WooOOoo, cosmiiiic.

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"It seems like a way for the owners to get away with paying a pittance to the people providing the service in their establishment. People should just be paid appropriately instead of relying on customer goodwill and courtesy to fill in the discrepancy."

I’ve had terrible rows with American friends for saying something like that., Jack. Fair play to you.

I like it that you can have just enough in your pocket for a pint in UK or Ireland - or Australia or NZ for that matter - and you can go in to a pub confident that you can enjoy a bit of company for the length of a pint. It always seemed to me that in the US or Canada, they’d be wanting your bus fare home as well for a tip and the thought of going into a bar is off-putting unless your wallet’s full. I was reprimanded by bar staff in Jack’s hometown long before I understood just how ingrained tipping was - of course I’d heard of it but thought of it as a grandiose patronising gesture "Keep the change, my good man" sort of thing, as it would’ve been seen in Oz at the time.

I lived in Austin for a while, and saw a lot of musicians playing in bars, for a pass of the hat. Some of them did all right. I can see where the culture clash comes from.

In country pubs in Oz in the 50s and 60s, it was more a case of "There’s the pianna, make yer own bloody fun". Jukeboxes and pokies soon put an end to that.

Posted by .

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Unfortunately, tipping is "catching on" over here too but it’s not an accepted part of the pub culture yet. I’ve never objected to giving a bar person or waiter(ress) a tip for good service but never do it as a matter of course—certainly not every time I go to the bar. It seems daft to me giving 10, 20% or whatever every time I buy a pint. It’s rather a case of "Have one yourself" every so often.

It just wouldn’t be the done thing for musicians to go around the bar collecting money in Scotland(I know it happens on the Continent) but we wouldn’t refuse a drink if offered. πŸ˜‰

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There are plenty of regional differences regarding tipping. In my local I tip every time I buy a drink -

"That’ll be Β£2.40 please"

"Cheers - take your own as well"

- and the bar staff take 10 or 20p, not 10 or 20 %!!

Whilst in the Lake District recently I said the same thing in a bar, and the barman bought himself a pint! This seemed to be the norm in the pubs around there, so for the rest of the weekend I would tip on my first round and buy the bartender a drink, but not thereafter.

In terms of musicians playing for tips, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it meself, but I don’t think it’s categorically wrong per se. However, I would NEVER stop anyone buying me a pint, even if was a case of "I’ll buy you a pint if you put that thing down and let me wacth the football in peace."

I know I have contributed nothing useful to this discussion, but I’m suffering acute hangover and boredom at work, so I had to do something to keep my metabolism up. I’m off now to find some sugar.

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I have never seen a tip jar in Ireland, certainly not for musicians.

If you did have one, you could bet your life that it would be stolen.

By the way "Reverend". You say you know how litle waitresses and bar staff are paid, and then admit to owning some of these establishments.Were you not able to rectify the situation by paying the staff more?

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When I was working in Ireland, whenever a well-meaning north american tourist left me a tip, the publican made me put it in the till. I thought that was a bit much, personally.

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I remember there was a brief consternation when one of the bartenders at one of Pete’s clubs got mad at someone for not tipping and gave them bad service for not tipping them! That’s just not on, even when you’re depending on those tips to make a living. Tips are supposed to be for good service above and beyond the call of the job description, although I personally have no trouble at all tipping someone for good service at the job description level. (And, Kerri, in the States - or maybe it’s just the states that I’ve lived in - tips are not tax free. By law, all tips have to be reported and taxes paid on them. Another lovely example of your tax dollars at work. Needless to say, many smaller businesses such as bars and nightclubs do not necessarily follow this law scrupulously, if at all.)

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We have laws like that too, but as far as tips are concerned, that law is pretty much universally ignored.

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Just a few observations :

"In Ireland all the session leaders are paid" - Hmmm they are occasionally in certain" Honeypot" pubs to attract the tourists to "Traditional Irish Music" - but other than that a session is just that a session for like minded folk.

As an Englishman who visits the USA a fair bit - I get REALLY p*ssed off (UK for very annoyed!) when I am rudely told about the American requirement for tipping - I have even had bills presented where the waiter/waitress have added by hand a 15% tip. I understand the USA situation re tipping and always tip anyway - just get annoyed at how it SOMETIMES put over!

Here in Suffolk, UK where I play in many sessions they are just that - sessions - a collection of like minded folk who like to play for the enjoyment of themselves - if the crowd get enjoyment out of it so much the better but we are doing it for us.

We sometimes get beer out of it and sometimes not.

It wouldn’t even occur to anyone to hand around a hat for money from the punters.

Twice in 25 years of playing have I known someone to pass around a hat for sessioneers - once a landlord and once a very drunk lady in the bar!

We do of course , gracefully, accept un-solicited offers of beer from the pub attenders!!!
Bev Lawton

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"Were you not able to rectify the situation by paying the staff more?"

No, bliss, because that’s not the way it works. If I started paying the wait staff a larger wage, it wouldn’t make the patrons stop tipping them. And if I *did* have to pay them more money, I would have to raise the prices of my drinks and food to be able to cover it. It comes out of the customer’s pocket either way.

Tipping is customary here, and while I somewhat agree with Jack’s desire to be rid of it, I can’t think of a good way to make it happen. I suppose one could start opening "no tipping allowed" establishments, but it might be hard to make those establishments competitive in this market.

What we’re losing, however, is the idea that the good tips are for good service. I will adjust the amount I tip based on the quality of the service, but who knows if that ever even gets noticed.

And yes, Kerri, it is common for a good waiter or waitress to walk home with $150 for 5 hours of work, which works out at $30/hr. on a good night. But they actually work hard for it. And their "wage" is legally allowed to be below the U.S. "minimum wage". They are commonly getting paid about half of minimum wage, or $2.75/hr. So on bad nights, they can walk out with a piddly $14 (or about 17 Euros). And if you figure out what they really make averaged over a month, it’s usually in the range that is considered poverty. (There are exceptions, of course)

Pete

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"I would have to raise the prices of my drinks and food to be able to cover it. It comes out of the customer’s pocket either way."

Management would never consider adjusting their bottom line to make things more fair though. Everyone can take a cut except for those making the most.

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Well, yes, but it’s not like I actually ever made any money owning bars and restaurants. In fact, I usually didn’t even make a living wage.

Pete

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Well, if you hadn’t drunk any profits… ;)

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Oh, but Jack…"more FAIR"? Have you EVER opened a bar and seen how much money, time, and effort it takes, both before opening and while running the thing?

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I’m interested to know how the customary tipping came about in the States. Was it originally because customers felt sorry for people with lower wages than themselves? (I doubt it) Or was it as an incentive to provide good service? I always hear the same justification for tips - that the staff rely on them because of their low wages. This is a messed up system that America has created for itself. Of course the rich are going to take advantage and avoid paying the poor serving staff a decent wage that they can live on, if they can get away without doing so. It boils down to how it all started. As an incentive for good service? I’d guess so, but why should there have to be an extra financial incentive just to treat your fellow human beings with respect and do your job properly? Poor people are doing that all over the world without that financial incentive. Now you have a situation where if you *don’t* tip, you get bad service, which is just ridiculous. Well, regardless of whether people are happy with this system or not, America is stuck with it now. No doubt other countries will follow the same path just because America has.

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By the way, I’d say that service in the UK and Australia is poorer than in the US. Surprise surprise - they get few tips because it’s not part of our system. As I say, it’s a shame that there has to be a financial incentive just to be nice to someone as you go about doing your job. It says a lot about the priorites of people who belong to the me-me-me culture.

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*smirk* This one’s my favorite bit…

"countries with more extroverted and neurotic people gave tips to the greatest number of services and also tipped the largest amounts. (The U.S. was at the top of both of those categories, by the way.)"

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That’s an interesting link Zeens. I have this overwhelming feeling that I want to argue logically that there are no long-term benefits in having a tipping culture. It just gives the rich an excuse to keep the poor poor. You might get better service, but in the end it’s only superficial, because they’re only kissing your a$$ so they can get your money. However, I sometimes get tips at work, and they come in handy because I’m on a low wage. The other day I got tipped $50. I went out that night and blew the whole lot on booze of course, but it was much appreciated. On the other hand, they would have got the same service from me regardless of whether they tipped me or not, and I don’t begin the day thinking "must be nice or I won’t get tipped". I feel as though if I ever started thinking that way, my manner with customers would become superficial and plastic, and things would become more complicated than simply doing my job to the best of my ability regardless…

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"However, I sometimes get tips at work, and they come in handy because I’m on a low wage. The other day I got tipped $50."

Just for those of you that don’t know — Dow works at Hooters. It turns out that the pot he was smoking in his youth caused him to develop a handsome rack. They usually send Dow out after the crowd gets too drunk to notice anything above the neck line.

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Zina, I wasn’t making that statement as only relating to pubs. It was more about the idea that the compensation results in the customer paying higher prices. I think if you looked at the practice across the board you won’t find management willing to take a pay cut to balance things out — even if they make an exorbitant amount more. In fact, the more they make the less likely they’ll be to take a cut for the general good.

Think about, for example, how when oil companies have disasters they always report record profits. They und up rolling in dough while Joe Consumer takes all the cuts in what they end up bringing home.

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What, you mean you think Pete should have made less than his less-than-a-living-wage himself to make sure his waitstaff got paid even more than he did than they already did?

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You aren’t paying attention, Zina.

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Linking small restaurant operators to multinational oil conglomerates.

Now that’s thinking outside the box. Is that from Howard Dean’s playbook?

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Yes, I am — I’m talking specifics and you’re talking generalities. As usual. *grin*

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In order to un-do the tipping… it would have to come from the top down. But it will never happen. This is similar to the undocumented worker quagmire. It’s all about being able to pay low wages and make big profits. The WTO, NAFTA, etc. It is played out on a very small scale in the American pubs.

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Jack

It could also be all about blaming everything on "them."

If enough consumers were a) willing to pay more for the luxury of dining out so that the workers could earn a livable wage and b) willing to sacrifice the luxury of dining out until the owners got the message; the situation would change not from the top but from the core. However that would require both risk and sacrifice. It’s easier to say "it’s someone ‘up there’ who is the problem, not me."

It wouldn’t stop tipping though because some people will always enjoy feeling special from the giving or the receiving of tips. And when the money’s good, it’s really good. Durn nasty dollars.

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"Just for those of you that don’t know — Dow works at Hooters"

Yeah, even on my low wage I can afford to commute to the States every day from Australia, just so I can work there until Australia gets its first Hooters restaurant at the end of the year 😏

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With a bit of luck they’ll put it on Oxford Street - that way I won’t have to bother shaving my chest for work πŸ™‚

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But Laitch… why does it work in the UK and Ireland? Would those people prefer the tipping system to their own?

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It works in the UK because that’s how it works in the UK.

It’s also much more expensive to eat out in Ireland, did you not notice?

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That’s because the Euro is worth a lot more than the dollar. Ireland’s economy is flourishing — our’s is in decline. I felt as though I was visiting from a third world country. If the US dollar and the Euro were on a level playing field the pints would have seemed cheap at €3.60. I pay $4.50 here… plus tip πŸ˜‰

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Jack, the "top down" IS the consumer. Are you not paying attention? Pete didn’t make a living wage when he owned bars. There WERE no big profits.

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The high price of booze in NA is due to liquor tax, not extra profit margin. I got paid twice as much as a barmaid in Ireland as I did in Canada, and my living expenses were lower, taking all currency conversion into account.

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I was referring to a much higher top than Pete… but that’s OK, Zina. Since you bring it up, what were the profits for Pete and how did they compare to what a service employee was getting?

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You *aren’t* paying attention. His employees made more money than he did; overall, he posted a loss on his most successful club (which was successful enough that they’re having a "reunion" night this October due to popular demand).

And I don’t think Pete is un-typical of bar and club owners. The "top" is ALWAYS the consumer; that’s why they call it a service industry.

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Well, like I was saying… the "top down" approach might have to start a big restaurant chain all of a sudden declaring itself to be a "tip free zone". That *might* make it just for the novelty factor, but it would be difficult to make it appear competitive, because in general, the prices would be higher than their competition because of higher compensation for the employees.

It is true that most of my employees made more money than I did in the restaurant/bar industry. Even the big chain restaurants need to run things just like the little guys when it comes to staying afloat. That all begins with controlling costs, and pricing goods based on cost of business. If your employee costs go up, your product costs must go up.

There are very few people in this country that have gotten very rich off of the food/beverage industry. And a lot of the ones that have are in the fast food business, where tipping isn’t customary (and service generally stinks).

The only other way I could see the end of tipping coming about would be some sort of government mandate raising the minimum wage and outlawing gratuity. (And the last thing we need in this country is the government mandating any more stuff like that).

Pete

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"And I don’t think Pete is un-typical of bar and club owners. The "top" is ALWAYS the consumer; that’s why they call it a service industry."

"It is true that most of my employees made more money than I did in the restaurant/bar industry."

So when I go to Ireland and meet a dodgy homeless guy on the LUAS tracks after the session I should assume he’s a publican — since they don’t have tipping there?

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No, but you should really temper your views with actual reality, perhaps. πŸ™‚

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Why start now? hahahahaha! πŸ™‚ (Just kidding!)

Posted .

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😲 oh my… it looks like someone’s a tad sensative about this subject, doesn’t it.

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I know for a fact that the publican at our local isn’t making less than his staff. I wonder how wide spread this travesty is anyway. Zina believes that staff people are making more than owners of pubs and restaurants. Anyone have any knowledge on this. Could Zina be right? I find it hard to believe, personally.

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Will you crack me up. πŸ˜€

I don’t know from restaurants, but my friend’s theater (which sells beer) is dangerously close to tanking, financially. He pays an employee or two, but not himself. While he was building the place, he spent several months living in it, peeing in jars (no plumbing) and sleeping in a little home-made plastic room on the top floor.

When I volunteer to sell beer for him, I use the tips to get myself a few then dump the rest into the till.

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Oh yeah, I have a point, and this is it: One day the theatre is bound to go into the black, I reckon. If it does, my buddy stands to make more money than his employees. Rightly so, because otherwise he loses everything. His employees, what with their guaranteed wage, sleep soundly at night without the enormous pressure of having invested four years of their lives, their entire heart and soul and all of their assets in something that will very probably ruin them. They wake up, they go to work, they get their money, they go home. When the money stops coming, they stop going to work. Big deal!

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But how typical is that? It’s hard for me to believe that most owners are making less than their staff. If it were true, why would anyone ever do it? Everyone I know that is an owner of a successful pub or restaurant is doing pretty damn good.

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"Since you bring it up, what were the profits for Pete and how did they compare to what a service employee was getting?"

"Oh my… it looks like someone’s a tad sensative about this subject, doesn’t it."

Maybe said "sensative" person finds questions like the first quote just a wee bit invasive? Maybe s/he finds it a false construct? Of course the owner reaps higher profits: s/he also invests money (often 6 figures, and most bars/restaurants fail), time (often 60-70-80-hour weeks), risk, etc.

To attempt to draw simplistic inferences about the fairness of a given business or industry based on a comparison of the take-home monies of owner versus employee strikes me as unrealistic. I worked as line cook and held an IWW card, and *still* wouldn’t draw such inferences.

chris smith

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"Everyone I know that is an owner of a successful pub or restaurant is doing pretty damn good."

Dude: you live in San Fran, remember? You sure you can generalize beyond that very specific (and, most would agree, very atypical) cultural environment?

I have a very good and old friend who’s a 5-star chef and spent 8 years just raising the investment money to open a place in SF. She regularly works 80 hour weeks. Divide her weekly take-home pay by 80 hours, and guess what: her wait-staff make more.

See
http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/html/cafes___restaurants.html
This is the place she owns

She still works at times as an executive chef to make ends meet. See "Stars"
http://www.sfenvironment.com/articles_pr/2002/article/102302.htm

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"Zina believes that staff people are making more than owners of pubs and restaurants."

That’s not what my point is, overall, nor am I "sensative" about it, in any case, or even sensitive. I’m saying that these narrow views of yours fit only into a completely black and white world with no shades of gray and do not take realities such as those of the vast majority of small club and restaurant and bar owners into account. Most of these businesses do fail (as Kerri and Chris point out), which mean that, overall, staff probably actually does make more than the owners.

The percentage of successful bar, pub, and restaurant owners is very small given the amount of failed businesses, and that doesn’t even count the businesses that were successful enough but where the owner, exhausted and disillusioned with the service industry, gave up and quit.

It’s simply a huge mistake to decide that ALL owners of such businesses are money-grubbing, greedy bastards. Most of them work extremely hard for their cash everyday, putting up with all kinds of treatment that most of us would find appalling from their customers, and very often from their staffs. People are people, no matter what they do, and most of us basically just try to get through the day as best we can.

Besides, looking like you’re doing pretty damn good and actually doing pretty damn good are two different things.

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LOL at "everyone who owns a successful restaurant is doing pretty damn good"!

I’d also like to add "Everyone I know with a sweater on is not topless" to this collection of obvious, self-annhilating statements. Any other suggestions?

Anyway, in my experience, small businesses struggling to succeed, their owners taking a loss and sometimes paying the overhead necessary to survive out of their retirement funds is the norm.

I’m speaking from my experience with my grandfather’s company (construction) my father’s company (software) my buddy’s ventures (numerous shows and a theatre) and the families of couples I’ve nannied for (finance, consulting, psychology and acting), rampant and embarassing financial success is unusual for a small business.

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Chris, you’re putting my quotes in the wrong chronological order, and you’re claiming I brought up the subject of owners make less than their staff — Zina suggested that, not I. She made the statement that pub owners make less than their staff — that’s what I was questioning.

Zina, I never said, "ALL owners of such businesses are money-grubbing, greedy bastards," I don’t think you’re basing your statement in reality. *grin*

Since you all have misconstrued my comments, I offer the following for clarification:

The discussion came around to tipping. I expressed a dislike for it. The query about possibility of abolishing it came up, and the idea of it resulting in the cutting of the profits for the publican came up. I didn’t think this was the theater to debate the issue, and I broadened it to encompass the service industry as a whole and made references to problems with undocumented workers, the WTO and the oil industry. Somehow my comments about those issues got redirected back to Pete’s and now Zina’s claiming I called people like him a "money-grubbing, greedy bastards."

If everyone would calm down and review the thread you’ll find that I made no such inference about "ALL owners," or Pete, or anyone else.

If we could get back to where I left off, it was about it being the ENTIRE SERVICE INDUSTRY where you’d have to start from the top of to abolish tipping. OK?

Correction

Chris: Those quotes were in the right order, but I didn’t make the statement that pub owners make less than staff… that was still Zina.

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Think globally,
act loco-ly!

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Imagine whirled peas.

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Come on kids… we’re playing "Make Up Things That Jack Said" It’s fun! Zina’s in the lead with "ALL owners of such businesses are money-grubbing, greedy bastards." See if you can top that!!! 😲

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"I think if you looked at the practice across the board you won’t find management willing to take a pay cut to balance things out — even if they make an exorbitant amount more. In fact, the more they make the less likely they’ll be to take a cut for the general good."

Sounds like you calling management ‘money grubbing bastards’ to me, if not in actual words, certainly in idea.

Whatever. A little "sensative" there, Jack? ;)

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BTW, Chris, which one is your friend’s restaurant, Boulette’s, or do you mean that she owns the Ferry Building? I’ve always wondered about those places; I’ll have to go there next time I’m in the city to support your friend.

And, btw…

I think that this subject is actually quite germane to this board. A lot, if not most, of us session at small business-owned pubs. I think understanding the owners of these businesses can only help us keep sessions alive and ticking.

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I disagree, and since I said it I can be the authority on what I meant. Across the board means the entire service industry. I didn’t call them "money grubbing bastards" — that’s your interpretation. I said they probably wouldn’t be "willing to take a pay cut to balance things out — even if they make an exorbitant amount more." I think I’m right about this, but you put nasty words in my mouth that weren’t there.

I doubt that you’ll find many people that appreciate having words like this being put in their mouth and being told they don’t have a grip on reality. I do think you over-reacted to my point. (read sensitive) I can see how that might have stirred you up a bit on account of Pete being a former publican, but make no mistake — I did not say that about him.

And, btw…

So if you don’t think it’s rape, it isn’t, no matter what the victim thinks? LOL — give it up, Jack. You know very well you haven’t much grip on reality. Otherwise you wouldn’t still be such a fecking idealist. *smirk*

Chris, that’s a really interesting article from SF Environment, btw. Cool beans.

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"…you’d have to start from the top of to abolish tipping…"

My main point of all this was that most restaurants and bars in the US (small, big, medium sized - doesn’t matter) run with really tight margins, where they’re LUCKY to get even a couple of percent of total sales to actually be profit.

So it is unlikely that the abolishment of tipping would be spurred by higher wages paid out of the ownership’s pocket. If it were to happen, it would pretty much have to be paid for by the customer one way or another. (So why not let the customer CHOOSE how much money they’re willing to pay? <— rhetorical)

BTW, I know a ton of bar owners, and there’s only one that I would consider "successful" - and part of the reason he’s successful is because he’s a jerk.

Jack, I think you should go talk to some of your successful pub owner friends and ask them whether they would need to raise their prices if they were to pay their (currently tipped) employees a good living wage - or whether they’d be willing to suck it up for the team and let it come out of their profits.

Let me know what they say πŸ™‚

Pete

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At least I know the difference between when I’m dreaming and when I’m awake, Zina. *double smirk*

Chris, that’s interesting about your friend, but I don’t think it means she represents everyone in the industry. I also have friends who are chefs and own restaurants etc., but I don’t think their employees are bringing home more than they are. I’ll ask though.

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You’d have to look at the entire industry (assuming tipping was to be abolished) to determine where the adjustments should be for the best effect. I don’t think we’ll ever get to that point though. If a study was done and the person within the chain of products and service was identified who was reaping the largest take, I doubt that person would be willing to make the sacrafice for the benifit of all concerned. That’s why it will never happen. But having said that — it IS working elsewhere.

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Bren writes: "I’ve had terrible rows with American friends for saying something like that., Jack. Fair play to you."

I think I know what you mean now.

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Yeah, go away and do some research, Jack. You’ll find that the only reason it works elsewhere is because they raise the price of their products. End of story.

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"Yeah, go away and do some research, Jack. You’ll find that the only reason it works elsewhere is because they raise the price of their products. End of story."

Thank you Milton Friedman.

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You’re welcome. Sticks and stones…

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Ooh yeah look what I’ve been missing. Why do you have to gang up on Jack when I’m at work?! Can I join in? This looks fun.

Jack, I’d just like to say that I don’t appreciate your calling me a "dumbass punk" in your last post. Even if that’s what I am I don’t think you have a right to call me that on this forum and I think you should be given a good stern talking to for it, at least. I can’t believe that you would stoop so low as to start insulting me like that just for expressing my opinions. That’s all I have to say on the matter. Now I shall go away and think up something else to say.

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Sorry I didn’t stick around to back you up Jack, but been there before, with folk who are not as well-travelled as this bunch. "If it’s different, it’s WRONG" types.
I can’t see how you can get rid of tipping culture once it’s established, which is why so many of us are so vehemnetly against it when we see it creeping into our own countries.

It’s hard for visitors to NA to get to grips with, because even if you think you know a bit about how tipping works in NA, you soon find out that you don’t. It’s not something you can suss out intuitively, so out of paranoia you end up tipping everyone and then find that your US bargain break is costing a lot more than you’d budgeted for.

Posted by .

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I’m not a fan of tipping. It’s even starting to creep into the Scandinavian countries. The bar staff now keep "tip jars" and the like which they never did before. Perhaps, the wages aren’t as high now and they’ve been influenced by a lot of our capitalist ideas e.g Denmark has privatised its railway system in recent years so the trains no longer run on time and sometimes not at all.πŸ™

Anyway, here in the UK, many restaurants will add the service charge or tip on to the bill as an extra without asking first. That’s really annoying because I’d have given a tip(unless the service was really dreadful)anyway and with a smile raher than a grunt!
Also, I’m not sure if the argument about the tipping custom ensuring better service really holds true in practice. It does in America and Canada, I suppose. However, all this "Have a nice day" stuff gets a bit nauseating after a while and I’d prefer the staff to really mean it-like they *occasionally* do over here. As for the likes of France and some Eastern European countries, the tipping culture is very strong but the waiters can be even more obnoxious and surly so I can’t see how it helps there. Also, a common practice in countries like Hungary and The Czech Republic is add an extra charge to the bill. The prices are usually really cheap and we Western tourists seldom question it and, if we did, the hassle wouldn’t be worth it. However, I was out in the company of some Hungarian friends in Budapest one time and it was a great experience when they "tore strips" off the waiter when I was presented with the bill.

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Anyway, I reckon there are quite a few more suitable noble causes to attach to in your country at present than the injustice and horror of tipping, Jack. Why don’t you sneak onto a military base and whack some jets on the nose with a baseball bat? (The nose is where all the sensitive electronics are!)

The most important changes need to be done from the bottom up.

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Why can’t somebody sneak into the white house and hit our president in the nose with a baseball bat?

Oh yeah, all those SS types. Damn.

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Couldn’t you just tip them to look the other way?

Posted by .

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Because Zina, your president is not the problem. Idiot though he may be, he’s not the person controlling your country. The corporations who are running things have worked very hard to make it look that way so their power will not
diminish with a change of leadership.

Speaking of which, here’s some entertainment for you:

http://yooha.meepvorp.com

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Kerri, I avoid political topics on this forum because Jeremy doesn’t tollerate them. If you’re interested in seeing the political debates where I’m addressing the issues that are more important than tipping, pay a visit to the poststructual pub on Chiff & Fipple.

Re: Pub etiquette

I don’t go to C&F because both times I looked at it, it was because people had started nasty threads about me. I decided they’re twits over there. I have a heck of a sext avatar though.

So are they, Jack? Twits, that is? It’s no fun discussing politics with idiots.

Re: Pub etiquette

There are "twits"… yes, but there are also a few brilliant minds as well. I’ve learned a great deal there, and the research I’ve done on the topics has been edifying. If you enjoy discussions like that with people who have a love for tunes in common with you, try it. I won’t be around until the 8th because I’m off to a music camp now. Ta ta.

Re: Pub etiquette

OK, Ok, I went. I’m off to a festival tomorrow, so ta ta to you as well.