So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Tag Archives: celebrity tipping

Waiting on celebrities

Celebrities are people too. They like to go out to eat. After all, they put their pants on one assistant at a time.

I’ve waited on celebrities from all areas of life. I’ve waited on celebrities from sports, politics, the Arts, science, and even reality shows. I’ve waited on a guy who served 15 years for murder. I’ve waited on the scientist who inspired “A Beautiful Mind”. I’ve waited on every Tennessee governor since 1971 sans one (the older ones were when they were ex-governors). I’ve waited on a couple of presidential candidates (one of whom is now a bigwig in the Senate and the other a shill for reverse mortgages on TV). I’ve waited on the “Bad Girls” from the “O” network. I’ve waited on local celebrities, regional celebrities, national celebrities and international celebrities. I’ve waited on celebrities on the cusp of fame, those whose fame is burning brightly (for better or worse), those whose 15 minutes is long ago spent, and celebrities who have crashed and burned. I’ve actually been around a huge number of celebrities over the years (I’ve done “celebrity waiters” gigs as well as having mass numbers of celebrities dining with other waiters).

This isn’t bragging – it’s just to show that I’ve waited on a pretty healthy cross-section of celebrities.

The important thing to remember is, despite all of the horror stories you hear about celebrities behaving badly, tipping poorly and being demanding publicity sluts/and or freakishly demanding of their privacy, that usually isn’t the case. Most celebrities are quite warm and friendly, especially if you don’t make a fuss over them or appear to be fanboyish. Most don’t mind being acknowledged for who they are, although with some celebrities, you’ll probably go farther with them if you just wait on them like anyone else.  You might say something in the middle of the meal like, “How is the veal, Mr. Springsteen”? Surely, you didn’t greet them with, “Good evening everyone, welcome to The Hungr…OH MY GOD – IT’S YOU!!!! I’ve been listening to you since 1974! I saw you 4 times on the Born To Run Tour alone!!!!” Better that you gave him a knowing glance, an arch of the eyebrow and a slight nod as you cast your eyes around the table (as a good waiter, you don’t just greet the table, you greet each person by making eye contact with them).

Celebrities expect a certain amount of attention when not deliberately dressed down – in fact, they demand it on various levels. It’s part of the deal with the devil that they made to achieve their level of fame. Most celebrities are content with a tacit acknowledgment of their status, but obviously there are those divas that demand fealty from all they meet. If you get the latter (and I must admit that I’ve never encountered such a beast), I suspect that the best tactic is just to give in and do whatever fawning seems appropriate. after all, you’d like to separate as much money from their black AMEX card as possible. Playing to their ego might very well get you the bottle of Cristal or Dom.

In any case, don’t get nervous and tongue-tied (or starstruck). It’s easy for me to say after all of the celebrity encounters that I’ve had – but trust me, after the first few, you learn that celebrities are, in the main, not much different from everyone else. They can have their moods and you still need to read them just like any other table. You still have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. You still have to hit your marks. 

If you get a celebrity in the house, don’t tell your tables until they’ve left. You wouldn’t tell the celebrity that they are there, would you? If your restaurant is known for celebrities and someone asks you if there are any celebrities in the house, your stock reply should be (as you glance around the restaurant) “I haven’t seen any tonight, but I’ve been kind of busy”. Of course, if your restaurant is known for celebrities, then you already know this; this advice is for the novice who might accidentally find him or herself waiting in a celebrity-rich environment.

Be careful about telling stories out of school, even when they are complimentary stories. This goes double for Twitter, Facebook, et. al. It can come back to haunt you, as I have pointed out a few times on this blog.

If you get a celebrity with a handler, play to the handler. They’re the ones who are there to absorb or deflect some of the unwanted attention directed to the celebrity. They might also handle the purse strings.

Speaking of purse strings, most celebrities are very generous. I said most. Your chances of getting a good to great tip with a celebrity is higher than if you wait on the average person. I can only remember a couple of celebrities who were poor tippers.Some celebrities are extravagant tippers. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the chance to wait on one day. but don’t expect a huge tip just because a celebrity is rich and famous. Remember, they are just people too. don’t invest them with super tipping powers.

So, to recap, celebrities are like anyone else. They can be friendly, moody, pissed off, generous, cheap, annoying, engaging, interesting, demanding, bored, imperious, quiet, reserved, boisterous or just plain nice. Just because they were in the Super Bowl or acted in a movie with Gene Hackman or were famous for being a pivotal character in one of the pioneering cop shows of the early 80s or being one of a brothers’ acting dynasty or being the distaff half of the Moonlighting duo doesn’t mean that they deserve any less than your best.

Or any more for that matter.

No, that’s not Zach Braff dining with Hung from Top Chef. PSYCHE!

Apparently, people just aren’t being raised right these days…

…what with their daddy’s credit cards and Porsches, and Prada bags and seaside rentals while going to places like Pepperdine.

There was a story that I ran across while searching for stories about tipping. It was a repost of a story on another site reposted by Perez Hilton. It was about Robert Pattinson, who is starring in a mega-million dollar franchise, “Twilight”. Apparently his tip was a little light on a $350 check. The tip was $50, which was just short of 15%. Now I’m not going to hang young Pattinson for such an offense, although I’ll say that someone making megabucks and is in the public arena should probably be more generous (self-preservation).

No, what astounded me were some of the comments from the “Perez Posse”, many of whom apparently have avoided learning about the ways of dining out in the US.

The tip is based on the food service, not the bar tab, ignorance is bliss. They over tipped.

Yes “elo”, apparently you’re one blissful motherfucker. The tip is based on the bill, including the bar tab. Do you stiff your bartender? I doubt it.  That’s assuming that the bartender takes your fake ID.

Your not required to tip on the price of a bottle of wine so it was over 15%. He should have dropped a $100 for a tip for good publicty though!

BZZZT! Sorry “annielicious”, you’re not so delicious. Yes, you should tip on the wine. It’s either that or I’ll rent you my wine tool for 15% of the cost of the bottle. In the event of a screwtop, I’ll rent my bottle opening skills to you for 15%, since in most locales, you aren’t allowed to serve yourself any alcohol.

They actually over-tipped. You don’t include drinks in the tip, just the food. That was a pretty dumb post, Perez.

Well “wil”, that was pretty dumb. where did you hear that? From your frat brother? Did he tell you that at the last kegger?

Perez, that is hardly stingy, considering it is minimally shy of 15%, and you admitted that a significant amount was on alcohol. Tipping is supposed to be based on food, not expensive alcohol. Besides, maybe the service wasn’t good?! Not nice to call him stingy over this …

Yet another person making up the rules as they go.  “DoctorPS” – PS, no wonder doctors are sometimes considered cheap. Maybe I should make a new rule that I don’t have to pay you if I have to wait more than 30 minutes in your waiting room for you to treat me.

For 50 Bucks the waiter shoulda been handin out BJ’s ! I don’t care how much the tab is, it isn’t rocket science bring someone a glass of damn water! 

Damn, “Dialred”, you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full.

Tipping varies by country, Perez. I’m in the US and I find it an annoying waste of money. They’re already getting PAID to do their job.

Yes, “Starflower11”, waiters in NYC make around $6/hr. Just because you make that working at the Dairy Queen doesn’t mean that everyone else should.

Well that’s it precisely isn’t it… they don’t tip in the UK, so how can you hate on someone who is from there?? It’s hard to say “well they should just know” but if you think that, then you clearly are ignorant to different cultures. If he was with american friends, THEY should’ve been the ones to pony up!!

You have named yourself well, “goofygoober”. First of all, the cat just isn’t off the boat. He’s already probably starting his 3rd movie. He’s probably got a pad in LA and a nice Greenwich Village co-op. Most people try to learn the customs of whatever country that they’re living and working in. In some countries, screwing up a custom could cost you a hand, you know.

50 dollars ? How much more can you tip ? Seems fine to me, if the service was good. Tipping is not mandatory anyway, just a sign of appreciation.

Well “zooey” (not Deschanel, hopefully), how much more can you spend for dinner? “Seems fine to me”? Did you just think “$50, that’s a lot of money”? That’s what some of your other fellow spawns of Satan said. You’re right, tipping isn’t “mandatory”. Neither is not slapping your mother. For your information, tipping is payment for services rendered, tempered by the quality of the service that you have received. That’s a little different than just “appreciation”. The bill itself is for the food only – the tip is for the service that you received.

There are something like 450 replies to this story, many of which reflected the above sentiments.

I worry about the youth of America.

Kiddies, here’s the deal. Since the 50s, the standard tip for average service has been 15%. No, it’s not “mandatory”, it’s “customary”. And yes, it’s “expected”. The percentage is based on the bill. Most people seem to tip post-tax, but you are fine tipping pre-tax. You should include all alcohol, including wine. If you spend $200 on a bottle of wine, it’s not considered a major offense to tip a little less on the amount of the bottle. Most people who order that price of wine don’t exclude it from the tip though. You should always tip on discounted food as well. If you have a $20 coupon, please add it back in to the price of the bill to figure the tip. The coupon is a discount on food, not service. If the service is lacking, then you should leave less than 15%. But if the service isn’t just order-taking and the waiter makes your dining enjoyable, then 18 – 20% (or more) is expected.

Got it?

Good. Now go out and do the right thing, young’uns.

robert-pattinson-licking-anna20281292

Photo from http://whattheforks.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/