The Stained Apron
May 14, 2002 9:12 AM   Subscribe

The Stained Apron is "dedicated to the venting of food servers' frustrations and a harsh education of the dining public." I always try to tip generously, now.
posted by moz (24 comments total)
I stopped talking to a friend who tried to weasel out of a tip by complaining about the service. And this came after an embarassingly long laundry list of requests... I left a fat tip.
posted by y2karl at 9:20 AM on May 14, 2002

Beware the busboy's in Indian restaurants, especially in the SF-bay area, I used to be one eons ago.
posted by bittennails at 9:25 AM on May 14, 2002

thanks for the link, moz.... Having been a server (okay, only for three months ten years ago), I know the pain of the one-dollar tip.
posted by gohlkus at 9:35 AM on May 14, 2002

The current Story of the Month, although probably just a fantasy, should have landed the waiter in jail. You can mess with people's food, but not like that.
posted by panopticon at 9:37 AM on May 14, 2002

My brother waits tables at a popular pizzaria. Mother's day (was also graduation day) and it was horrible: short on wait staff, a fifteen - twenty minute wait. Needless to say, the customers were not happy.

Even with apologies, the patrons would leave him 5 - 10 cent tips.

Thank you for the link. :D
posted by modularette at 9:41 AM on May 14, 2002

Even for a non-restaurant having job person like myself, bad wait service is pretty easy to distinguish from everything else that goes wrong in restaurants. I'm always amazed at how far otherwise bright people seem to be willing to go to blame whatever holds them up on the waitstaff, simply because it's convenient.
posted by dong_resin at 9:48 AM on May 14, 2002

Tipping causes these attitudes. As a rule, the service is non-tipping countries is usually much, much better than tipping countries. Do your job, get paid a wage and that's the end of it.
posted by dydecker at 9:49 AM on May 14, 2002

The difference, dydecker, is that in America tips are considered part of a server's pay. Minimum wage for wait staff is something like $2.25.

I'm glad I always tip 18-20%. I guess it helps make up for all the assholes.
posted by me3dia at 9:53 AM on May 14, 2002

There used to be a site called but it appears to be down. It was very funny and also a good outlet for the venting waitperson. . .
posted by Danf at 9:58 AM on May 14, 2002

I always tip 20%. One of my less pleasant memories from living in Hyde Park, however, was putting down some money, realizing I didn't have enough change for 20%, getting up to go to the register to pay and get some more--and having the waitress sneer "that isn't even 15%." She got the rest of her tip, but it was a seriously close call.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:00 AM on May 14, 2002

in America tips are considered part of a server's pay.

This is the problem. Service is more consistently good in Switzerland (where I lived for awhile) and other european countries where a service charge is included in the food price. Patrons sometimes leave a small amount extra to reward excellent service, but nothing is expected or demanded.

The spirit of a tip is to reward good service, not pay for any service - that's the manager's job. In the US this concept has been perverted by greedy restaurant owners who wanted to advertise lower prices for food. What used to be a true gratuity is now just "salary" and with the tip-as-salary motif culturally ingrained, managers have effectively robbed servers of any true gratuity. Yay America - rob from the poor to pay the rich!
posted by plaino at 10:05 AM on May 14, 2002

The difference, dydecker, is that in America tips are considered part of a server's pay. Minimum wage for wait staff is something like $2.25.

I realize that. I read through those stories and inevitably the waiter decides to "piss in their soup" or "snot on their roast chicken" when they realize the customer is not happy and is going to stiff them. It sets up a system where customers are divided into okay people and "assholes" depending on the size of their tip. It brings personal feelings into what should be an impersonal transaction, like at a bank. But I guess the cat is already out of the bag in America and there is no putting it back.

Tipping infuriates me because the countries I have lived in (New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand), the only places which ask for tips are the "American style" restaurants and bars who do ask for tips because it's part of their image. Meanwhile their staff are making ordinary wages.

In America I tip. I don't want to risk the phlegm. In England I was unsure whether to tip or not.
posted by dydecker at 10:12 AM on May 14, 2002

My rule is 20% or more if the service is good or better, 15% if barely adequate, and less if abysmally bad. I've only felt forced to tip below 15% a handful of times in the last dozen years, and I eat out a lot. I guess I'm lucky.

I enjoyed many of the stories on this site, particularly the ones about celebs who are great/lousy tippers, but the stories about servers adulterating people's food crossed the line. I don't care how much of an asshole a customer is -- a server who adulterates someone's food is committing a crime.
posted by chuq at 10:13 AM on May 14, 2002

I usually tip 40-50 percent...that's why:

a) I don't eat too often at places that require tipping.
b) I get REALLY good service when I do go. How do they remember?
posted by byort at 10:35 AM on May 14, 2002

Excellent link. I worked in catering for 3 years (ending about 5 years ago). It was during this time I hatched a plan for a kind of "National Service". Everyone should be made to work for a year serving others their food. It would greatly reduce the number of assholes.
posted by jackiemcghee at 10:43 AM on May 14, 2002

I usually tip 40-50 percent...that's why:

a) I don't eat too often at places that require tipping.
b) I get REALLY good service when I do go. How do they remember?

I waited tables for many years, before going into management and realizing that I needed to get out of the whole industry as a whole.
So I opened up a restaurant. silly me.
The reason why people remember you as an exceptional tipper? Because your tip stood out as an excellent compliment in an otherwise uneventful day. Most servers are going through the motions, even when appearing happy and willing to tend to your every need. As you tell them you want extra sour cream, what they are really thinking is something like this:
moreteaovertheremaybeIneedtocheckbackonthattableoverthere didIneed4or5cokesforthattabledidIremembertogetthatladyinthebluedress extradressingforhersaladIthinkthatmanneedshischange thattableisreadytoleaveIneedtoprintuphisticket

and so on. When you tipped well, over and above what is expected, that server acknowledged it as something "different" about his day. It's really amazing how, as a server, you can remember such things.... I used to be able to remember names of entire families that came in once a year.
And at the same time, I can't remember my address at times...
posted by bradth27 at 11:17 AM on May 14, 2002

Anyone know of a good patron pet peeve site? It would be fun to hear stories from the other side.
posted by hockeyman at 11:17 AM on May 14, 2002

The night I got engaged, I took my brand new fiancee to our favorite college restaurant (The Chimes at the gates of LSU), where my brother had been sitting for half an hour, just to hold a table for us (Friday nights are particularly busy). While we were there having drinks, a great college friend happened to pass by on a date. I asked if we could possibly get a larger table so that all of us could sit together.

The manager informed us that since other guests had been waiting over an hour for a table, it would be unfair to give the larger table to us. Before I could say anything, our waitress spoke up and said, "Excuse me, but these two just got engaged less than an hour ago, and they could have gone anywhere they wanted to celebrate. They chose to come to the Chimes and I think that means something."

The manager reconsidered and gave us the larger table. And our waitress earned an extra $50 on top of her tip.
posted by ColdChef at 11:35 AM on May 14, 2002

my favorite excerpt from the site:

"I was at the wait station, in the back of the dining room by the bathroom, when a customer grabbed my arm and politely whispered in my ear, "Uhm, you might want to ask someone to clean the restroom.

"I walked in there, and it looked like a poocano (a volcano of shit) had erupted in there."

Poocano... not a word that needed to exist.
posted by o2b at 11:52 AM on May 14, 2002

20% seems reasonable to me, so that's what I nearly always tip. The only exception would be if I were motivated to complain to the manager, in which case NO tip.
posted by alumshubby at 11:52 AM on May 14, 2002

During my summers, I wait tables at an expensive restaurant in Oklahoma City. One very wealthy old couple comes in every day and demands the most peculiar service. Over my time working there, I've learned their desires and worked to make sure that they no longer have to ask for anything. If they order a pizza, I'll be sure to cut all of the slices in half (the kitchen won't do it, and Jack sure as hell wouldn't request it before it actually got to their table). I bring his breadstick with Jelly (instead of the standard garlic toast). I half everything in the kitchen (a little more for Jack) because the kitchen won't do it and he gets livid if it doesn't happen otherwise. And he tips me 10%. Every time.

Unlike the waiters who've responded to this site, however, I don't really get upset when people ask for random things and lots of it. People who want a lot of extra treatment tend to recognize when the waiter takes care of their desires, and mostly they tip accordingly.

Guys like Jack shouldn't be allowed out of their own kitchens.
posted by kevin-o at 12:06 PM on May 14, 2002

I've been reading The Stained Apron for quite some time now. I waited tables at a gay bar here in Richmond, I've got some stories of my own that I keep meaning to submit to that site...thanks for reminding me that it's still there.
posted by gummi at 1:47 PM on May 14, 2002

I like this site but it's old, old, old, and hasn't been updated in ages, despite the "this month" header.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:49 PM on May 14, 2002

haven't read the site yet, but here's my take (in Canada, where wait-staff make I believe at least $8.00/hr).
I used to tip all the time, regardless of service... but lately, I've had little incentive to do so (and my gf used to waitress and shares the same opinions). I don't know if it's the restaurants I go to, or the way we look (sort of skater/raverish), but I can't remember the last time I got DECENT service. I'm a very simple customer.. I sit down, order right away, no frills, something right off the menu, I eat, and then I leave. All I expect is ketchup to arrive at the table (I usually have to ask for it, even though I'm getting french fries or some other ketchup related food), and a water refill. I don't care about, but also expect, the 2 minute checkup, or whatever it is, where they check back after dropping off the food to make sure everything's ok, such as, forgetting the ketchup. These ever so simple things are almost NEVER completed, and therefore, I don't tip. Why should I? If the bare minimum (also known as, their job) is not done, I should shell out something a little extra for their (lack of) trouble? It's gotten to the point where I feel someone deserves a fat tip because they managed to pull off one water refill, and remember to bring my ketchup. I don't know if it's because the way I look (oh, this cheap-ass won't tip, so screw him), so it's some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.. I used to tip big if I got that impression to prove them wrong, but I'm a little too smart for that now. Anyways, I guess that's my rant. Basically if you deserve a tip, you get one, if you don't, don't bitch.
posted by imaswinger at 2:14 PM on May 15, 2002

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