Valentine’s Day Stimulus

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’ve just finished a quick lunch at a favorite local restaurant. When I pull out my wallet and lay it on the table, my waitress, a slender brunette in her early twenties, catches my signal and delivers the check.

“So you ready for Valentine’s Day?” I ask the waitress as I quickly examine the bill.

“Ugh!” the waitress says, rolling her eyes. “We’ve got reservations until midnight.”

“That’s a good thing,” I reply. “Right?”

“We’ve got ’em packed in like sardines.”

“I remember,” I say, shaking my head. “Are you keeping the regular menu?”

“No,” the waitress says. “We’ve got a small menu. Stuff no one’s ever heard of.”

“Mistake. The regulars won’t like that.”


“That’s the nature of the beast,” I say, handing the waitress my credit card.

“I guess,” she says, “I’ll be right back with this.”

“Thank you.”

As I watch the waitress walk away I shudder as I think about all the Valentine’s Days I worked as a server. After Mother’s Day, the great Cupidnal shakedown is one of the busiest days of the restaurant year. Owners and managers usually accept more reservations than their restaurants can comfortably hold while persisting in the profit driven delusion that customers will gladly eat their overpriced meals and exit the premises in under an hour. And don’t get me started about the seating plan. Because all the tables have been converted into two-tops, the traffic lanes waiters are forced to navigate become more constricted than the arteries inside a lard addicted six hundred pound man. If you’re eating out on February 14th, don’t be surprised if your server accidentally bumps his or her ass in your face. It gets that crowded. Then again, depending on the ass, it could be an enjoyable experience.

The waitress returns with my check. I sign it, count out a tip in cash, and hand it back to her.

“Thanks Steve,” the waitress says.

“My pleasure.”

“So you going out on Valentine’s Day?” the waitress asks.

“I’m off the hook this year.”

“No special someone?”

“Even if there was, I’d cook her dinner at home.”

“That’s smart,” the waitress replies. “My boyfriend’s in the business too. We’re going out tonight.”

“You’ll have a better time.”

“But you know what sucks this year?” the waitress asks.


“Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday.”

“That does suck,” I reply, “It’s not like you get an extra big money day plus a Saturday. You’re just getting a crazy Saturday night.”

“And I could’ve used the extra big money day,” the waitress says. “Business has been really bad lately.”

“How bad?”

“It’s off fifty percent.”

“How’s the tip percentage been holding up?”

“People used to tip eighteen to twenty percent,” the waitress replies. “Now they’re tipping fifteen to eighteen percent – on smaller checks.”

“So it’s a double whammy.”

“You bet.”

“Where’s the stimulus package for waiters?” I ask. “Goddamn bankers are being paid billions in bonuses with our tax dollars. Why can’t waiters get a break?”

“And they’re the one who got us into this mess,” the waitress says.

“Maybe the government can give waiters across the country a payroll tax holiday for a month,” I say. “Put a little money back in their pockets.”

“That’s be nice.”

“Well,” I say, getting up from the table. “I hope everyone tips heavy on Valentine’s Day. Maybe that could be a sort of stimulus package for waiters.”

“Why don’t you write that up in your blog?” the waitress asks. “Get the word out.”

“You know what?” I say, “I will.”


“And when I come back,” I say. “You can tell me how many people you caught having Valentine’s Day sex in the ladies room.”

“Oh god,” the waitress exclaims. “There’s at least one every year!”

So you’ve heard it here folks. Waiters, bus people, bartenders, hostesses, and coat check girls are suffering terribly during this recession. If you are going out to eat tonight, please, despite the overcrowding, shrunken entrees, humping in the restrooms, and high prices, please give the restaurant staff a grassroots stimulus package – TIP HEAVY!

76 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day Stimulus”

  1. reid c says:

    You sir, are spearheading a cause so dear to my heart that it aches.

  2. Mark Gould says:

    Hmm..I never thought about it like that.

  3. Don R says:

    blah blah blah, tips.

    blah blah blah money.

    Where’s the real content gone?

  4. mr lim says:

    Don, it’s a blog about a waiter ranting. What were you expecting? 😮

  5. Moshizzle says:

    I’m not going out today. Valentine’s Schmalentine’s…. We’re eating tacos and baking a chocolate cake at home. We being me, my married friends and my ex-boyfriend the priest.

  6. Noelle says:

    We usually celebrate V Day on the 15th. Less people out to eat, and all of the merchandise is 50% off!

  7. Joe Casabona says:

    I don’t know what blog you’ve been reading, Don R, but this is pretty consistent. And awesome.

  8. billp salem oregonn says:

    In all my years of marriage and before single life, only went out twice! Both disasters. Better to order a pizza ang go out later or before THE DAY!

  9. Thomas says:

    I used to bounce in a hard-core club and I had to chase people out of the bathrooms for fucking at least twice a night.

    They were easier to deal with than the coke dealers, though.

  10. Ben says:

    so true…

    I bus tables at a restaurant around the area.

    Last night was a madhouse… on a wait for about an hour and a half… and we never have waits.

    I have to work tonight… the only reason I offered to work is so I could make some extra cash. Then I work tomorrow night, too. Great.

  11. P. Kight says:

    My partner and I like to delay our Valentine’s dinner till the following weekend, when our favorite restaurant has *lots* of open reservations, the food will likely be better and the staff less stressed. And thanks to your reminder, I think we’ll tip extra-generously, too.

  12. rusalina says:

    Guess what? I was so prepared (tip wise as well as dressed wise) to do it, but my “wonderful” husband does not acknowledge (to my surprise) the V day today! Effing shocking, huh? 15 years married and he just…came home from work, flipped channels to his fav, Tennis channel….and here I am, with a big sandwich in front of me, writing this…I am perplexed!

  13. Joanscone says:

    I am going out but not to the restaurant where I work, I’m a lunch chef so this is a nice night out but I will be afraid to use the restroom!!! I always tip 25%

  14. jan in chesterfield says:

    Both of my daughters are in the service industry. One is a bartender and one is a server. For them I hope this evening is profitable. And it is much less stressful for the diner to either eat out the night before or the night after. I’m not into the crowded restaurant scene.

  15. jan in chesterfield says:

    Don R should just stop reading this blog as he just doesn’t get it.

  16. Amber says:

    I’ve worked in a corporate chain restaurant for over 3 years now, and our store actually got an email from the “higher-ups” reminding us that the Vday crowd is the same as the Mother’s Day crowd, “amateur” guests who only go out to eat a few times a year. Combine that with what your server was talking about (also true) and you have a recipe for one hellish weekend.

    I’ve never been so thankful for a Saturday night off!!

  17. Booply says:

    They really needed to give stimulus packages to people who are paying back on student loans and crap. I mean the banks will benefit in that we will be using the stimulus bonus to pay taxes and pay off loans so banks can lend more. So why do they give the banks the money instead of the taxpayer who would inevitably bring out the same change we need, instead of squandering it on executive bonuses and such. I just don’t get it I guess…

  18. JDMDad says:

    I’m not going out tonight, but because of your blog and book, for the past 2-3 years I haven’t tipped less than 20%, recession or no.

  19. Maria says:

    I will do my part to help the food service industry’s uncomfortably high capacity of cheapskates hoping to bone their girlfriends after a nice meal in which they will tip whatever happens to be in their pockets by not going out.

    One of the things I will definitely not miss about waiting tables is Valenturd’s Day.

  20. Lori Cappozzi says:

    Interesting huh? so true… I had a sad valentine’s day yesterday

  21. Leslie says:

    I’ve been a waitress for years and I think this is my first v-day off in 10 years. Of course, it’s also the first v-day my husband has been deployed. I’m at home sipping on red wine and planning to have a girls night out tomorrow night. Less hassle, less crowd, more fun.

  22. Joanscone says:

    Ok so follow up on my dinner tonight, my fav place, I get the snotty old lady that once said to my 18 yr old “what you dont want any green veg with your meal” he ordered a 16 oz. strip steak that was around 28.00 and she made that comment. Believe me I remembered her. She had a busser give us H2o, a back server drop food and did her 2 bite check when we were 80% finished. 2nd round of drinks from the back server also. I could CLEARLY see see she was spending time with her 4 and 5 top. Hey I was a fine dining server for 5 yrs, now Im the lunch chef so………… Diane You SUCK!!!! YHer 25%tip went to 17% real quick.

  23. Anonymous says:

    You who really gets the shaft on busy days like Valentines Day, Mother’s Day and New Years Eve? The non-tipped kitchen staff. The guys there for barely over minimum wage who get there at sunrise to prep the crazy amount of food moved on these days, and don’t leave until the last dish has left the hot window. V-day is a real killer because tables flip so fast, food just flies through the kitchen.

    Respect for the kitchen staff.

  24. nunya says:


    I’ve never been to New York, but I bought your book for my kid who is new to waitressing and was happy to have a good day today. So you both got paid today 🙂 I hate crowds, but I tipped the waiter the other day 75%, and yes it was an inexpensive meal, but it was a full meal.

  25. Samantha Joy says:

    I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. My husband and I are loving all the year ’round.

    I don’t go out on Valentine’s Day, or on most “major” holidays. But when we do go out, we tip well all the year ’round.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  26. ObiWaiterKenobi says:

    I have a story for you, my friend.

    Tonight was exactly as published in your book (which I have now read 5 times and recommend to everyone in the business). I walked into work today only to discover that not only was I in the prime section of the restaurant, but almost every table was now a Deuce. Great. 8 Hours, 400 covers in reservations, and a “contest” as to which server can sell the most orders of the Valentine’s Shared special (note: the reason we have the contest is that the chef over-ordered on the meat, and is worried he’s going to lose a TON on the meat). It’s going to be a long night. And I won’t stop moving until after we close, I’m sure. I have a 9-Table section. 7 deuces and 2 4-tops. Couple that with the world’s most inexperienced hostess (resulting in double, triple, and once… quadruple seating), and I DID indeed have a very very busy night. My manager tonight told me that no other server could have handled my section tonight. That made me feel good. I also made my full rent tonight… which made me feel better still. However… the shining glorious moment of the evening was when I was asked to personally take care of some “friends” of the executive chef. At the end of the night, he came out of the kitchen and sat with them for a bit. While waiting for my last tip of the night, I was treated to the visual masterpiece that was my chef getting a “Hands-On-Thank-You” from his drunk “friend”. Oh… and I sold more than double the rest of the servers in Valentine’s Specials. My reward? Anything I want off the menu. However… considering what I witnessed… I might not be so hungry tomorrow.

    I’m sure you can relate to this story. It’s just another Valentine’s Day. Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Paging Dr. Freud!

  27. Danicus says:

    I didn’t go out tonight, but i always leave a huge tip. I was in those trenches once myself, I know how bad it gets. 20% minimum, usually 25%.

    Ill tip even more next time, to make up for staying home tonight.

  28. Beth says:

    Well, another Valentine’s day in the books… Not too bad this year, could have been worse anyway. Didn’t make a full month’s rent but close, and I’m more certain than ever Valentine’s day and Mother’s day ranks among the worse days to wait tables. Thanks for your encouragement and sympathy! After tonight, I couldn’t help but get a LIT to calm the nerves, and quickly stand in line and pray I have mother’s day off for the first year in a long time. I can only beg, which does so little…

  29. k&b says:

    We tipped 30% on our $120 bill tonight…

    For good karma, because he was a good guy, because our reservation was at 10:30pm so we were some of the last people in there and because anyone working on V-day deserves it!!!

  30. scorpio5150 says:

    Well just survived another v-day hell, only one more day to go on this hellish weekend. I don’t know why it stil surprises me on the stupidity of mankind. Feb. 14th falls on the same day of the year, EVERY YEAR. But people still expect to be able to walk into any resturaunt and get a table that very moment. For once I have simpathy for the host and hostesses on this day. The way subhumans were talking to them. Come on subhumans get a life, alomost everyone is eating out tonight. Everyone wanted a nice booth. Sorry we only have so many, hey we even added extra tables to handle the extra volume. Normally people have no problem eating at the bar or our bar tops when the wait is “long”. But not tonight. I am a bartender at a semi corporate resturant. I can get you in and out in no time if you eat with us, even before your buzzer for a table goes off, with great service to boot. A special thanks to the Marriot for treating you guest like shit, we truly loved taking care of them and their great!! tips, you lose. Bad kharma is kicking you in the ass now for those losy tips you gave us on your holiday party. Sorry for rambling but I am enjoying too many after shift drinks on the bosses, thanks dudes!! Keep the faith!!!

  31. Austin_waiter says:

    Surprisingly okay Valentine’s weekend here. We did move around 20 tables to makes room for more like 40 deuces, but that only took an extra hour or two. Anyway, people were nice (despite being packed in), my sales hit around 4k between last night and tonight, and I think I got maybe three tips below 15% and averaged more like 19-20%. Now if I can just make it through tomorrow . . .

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  34. Anonymous says:

    Another V-Day in the books. I expected being busy and a few crappy tips but that family of four really still burns me. First of all they made it clear they don’t do any alcohol, and then ask that they take the wine out of the wine cream sauce. After I explain that the alcohol is cooked out of the dish they order it(grrrr ignorance). I pick up the check as they are practically running for the door. $1.58 on a $58 check. I must believe there is a special karma treat coming to those folks.

  35. B says:


    You are obviously a smart, well read person so perhaps in your dialog you were only making conversation– although after reading you for so long I sense your political worldview leans left — however, respectfully, I’d note that your comments about Wall Street bankers being the fall guys for this economic debacle is a simple, shallow analysis. I’m tired of hearing it – so please excuse the… um… rant.

    Frankly, over decades the government (both D and R) created perverse incentives regarding housing, specifically with lending to poorer people via threats of legal action against lenders. In addition, “community activists” pursued legal actions against lenders which failed to make enough loans to minorities.

    The incentives created because of this was lenders sought to get the increasing number of risky loans off their balance sheets. Wall Street met this need by creating more and more complex securitization methodologies to bundle these loans and sell them to asset managers – and as an asset manager I can tell you that your, and everyone else’s, 401k’s, IRAs, or other investments are packed with these things.

    And, since lenders no longer carried many loans directly on their balance sheets, it became easy for mortgage brokers and lenders to began creating more and more complex loan structures to sell to borrowers. And why should the borrowers care? Since so many were either buying property on spec or expected prices to rise exponentially forever. (Anyway, whatever happened to personal responsibility?)

    This is not to mention the ridiculous moral hazard created over the years by the the government subsidization of Fannie and Freddie.

    The true majority of the blame rests with our government, Steve, which makes the rules and regulations by which the rest of us play. The government is what is bailing out the banks. It is what is spending an ungodly amount of money in a impulsive, imprudent manner with this “stimulus”, which is just a giveaway. Be angry that the government is taking your tax dollars and bailing these banking institutions out in the first place — especially when there were other options that would have had a $0 cost to taxpayers- specifically modifying or removing mark-to-market restrictions.

    Blame the politics of the government raising our taxes to ungodly levels to use for pork, ear marks and patronage that has accelarated over the last 30 years. This means folks like GWBush/Karl Rove seeking more hispanic home ownership in the hopes that some drywaller in Southern California making $500 a week will buy a home and become a Republican; and it means folks like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd who refused to look into the obvious risks inherent in the Fannie/Freddie because it was seen as another method for political patronage in government jobs and payback (i.e. minority loans) to supporting Democrat groups.

    The Federal Budget in 1990 was about $800 billions dollars. In 2008 it was $3 trillion. What are we getting for that? And now President Obama has greenlighted Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid in a trillion dollar giveaway? As Gerald Ford (surprisingly) said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have”.

    Finally, if anyone in the government had any sense at all — like maybe if they ever ran a business or tried to create value and make money in a competitive environment instead of just passing a tax increase or borrowing another billion from overseas and mortgaging our descendants’ future — they would want the banks to continue to pay whatever they have to to keep the best talent. If the banks don’t pay their best people a competitive wage for the talents they bring to the company, those people will leave. On the margin, those companies will then be in a worse competitive position and the banks will take longer to recover, if at all, and the taxpayers will take longer to get their (our. my.) money back.

    I could go on but that’s it because I need to figure out my taxes; since I am not Tim Geithner and nominated to be Treasury Secretary (or Tom Daschle and nominated to be head of HHS. Or Nancy Killefer, nominated to be White House chief performance officer. Or Charlie Rangel, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. etc. etc. ad nauseam.) it is unlikely that I will be given any preferential treatment if I don’t get them correct.

    All the best on the continuing success of your writing career.

  36. Jeff Moulton says:

    I work a couple nights a week for a restaurant that is fortunate to still be open. Last night they did it right. Set menu – three appetizer options, soup or caeser, four entree options, two dessert options – $65 per person (gratuity included $13 bucks for me)

    I waited on 24 people total, including one of the owners (at a six top). If the table was nice, I gave them a little reminder that my gratuity was already included in the price of dinner. If they were jerks, no warning.

    Needless to say, I didn’t warn the owner ($440 tab). If he’s not paying attention enough in his restaurant to remember, I don’t feel an obligation to remind him – $164 net tip from him!

  37. Ben says:

    This waitress sounds quite dumb – it was not bankers that got us into this mess, rather, it was irresponsible American consumers who spent money that they didn’t have. No wonder she’s a waitress and not a banker.

  38. Mark says:

    I hate V-Day from now on, none of the rest have been this bad, even in the current financial times I can usually get out with at least 19% – 2% in tip outs. Last night I had 15% – 3% in tip outs, I made about 5% of sales less than normal, or about a third of my money that I would have expected gone. Very tough night. Thank God for liquid medication.

  39. Eva says:

    Wanna avoid the lines? Just go to Burger King and you will be fine! 😉

  40. JT says:

    I was going to skip going out this weekend, but my husband suddenly had his Friday afternoon free. Our Valentine’s dinner was actually lunch the day before Valentine’s. It was awesome and quiet. The waiter enjoyed an early tip with less hassle, too.

  41. Christine says:

    OMG, I think I may have just found my favorite blog EVER!!! I do a lot of blogging and writing in the evening, but in the real world, I’m a waitress–in a small town no less. For those still getting 15-18% tip per meal, count your blessings. I live in a small farming community, and am lucky if I get 10%.

    Remember kids, anyone can stand behind a counter and push buttons, but it takes a special kind of zeal to get out there and deal with those people face to (ass in) face.

  42. dave says:

    The best reason for overbooking the restaurant on Valentine’s Day is that you lose at least 20% of your reservations because many people book as many as three or four rezzies at as many restaurants (just to be sure). The same thing happens on New Year’s Eve. But yes, managers get greedy as well :chuckle:.

    And, inevitably, you get one person who tries to game the system. The guest goes to the host stand and says, “You don’t have my reservation? I made it two weeks ago. That’s outrageous! Let me speak to the manager”!

    I love the two weeks before VD (gotta love the abbreviation). You’ve already booked the restaurant and people start getting cagy. “I’d like to make a reservation for this Saturday”. “Ummmm sir, that’s Valentine’s Day and we’ve been full for three weeks”. I actually answered the phone last Wed. and had a guy who said, “Do you make reservations far in advance”? “Sure”, I said, getting a feeling in my gut what was going to happen, “What day and week would you like”? I’d like to book a party of two for next Saturday night”. “Well sir, I’d like to book you for next Saturday night but it’s unfortunaely we’re booked up”. “Well, it was worth a try, right”? “Absolutely sir. Good luck to you”. We actually had people calling during VD preshift last night in order to try and snag a reservation. Imagine that!

    I feel sorry for the poor secretaries whose bosses panic when they realize that it’s two weeks before VD and they forgot about Valentine’s Day and then force their secretaries to go begging. And you can hear the panic in men’s voices the week of VD when THEY realize that they’ve “screwed up” and not planned ahead. Looks like it’s standing in line at PF Chang’s again this year :g:.

    It was definitely a long night and I made $250, which is about what I make on a really good night, but it was twice the work and I got home almost two hours later than usual. We really packed ’em in.

    Finally, the best strategy for the VD menu is a couple of special dining packages and a cut down version of the regular menu. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel but you also don’t want to offer the full menu if you can get away with it. The best thing is special dinner packages built from the regular menu and then the best of the rest. The saving grace of a VD dinner shift is the special packages. It cuts down the time you have to spiel and simplifies the whole dinner selection process by giving an alternative to ala carte. Get the steak temps – bam! Which of the two salds would you like? Bam! which of the two desserts would you like? Bam! Move along to the next love captives…

  43. james says:

    Ben,So it’s all on the consumers and the banks have no responsibility?

  44. trsh says:

    ahh, V-day. teenagers, couples who only go out twice a year, and other folks who don’t know a.) they are taking up your table and b.) you have no control over seating wait times or kitchen cook times on a day like that. at least the turnover is high enough you still do pretty well.

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  47. Sami-Ann says:

    Buwahahaha I lucked out this year, I conned my manager into scheduling me during a day shift yesterday so my bf and I could hole up in a nice hotel and take advantage of room service.

  48. trainer says:

    I haven’t taken my wife out on V-day for you say. They cram you into a table…the food is horrendous…and over priced. However, when we do eat out, I try my best to tip 20%+. This was great.

  49. SingleDiner says:

    I typically dine by myself. I’m a great tipper if I do say so myself. I usually tip up to 25% even when I get treated like crap for being on my own.

    There is nothing worse than being ignored and treated poorly because the waiter/waitress doesn’t think a single diner tip is worth working for. I try very hard not to hold it against them, but it’s getting to the point where I’m going to start tipping on actual service.

  50. MelC says:

    my valentines day was great; worked, got home, had a nice NICE mixed drink and then vegged out being passed around (phone wise) at a party with my friends. ate lovely takeout and went to bed early. sometimes being single ROCKS *lol*

  51. Avalon says:

    Strip clubs were full of couples by 10pm, they were replaced by single lonely guys by midnight. It was a great night.

  52. kitchen_staff says:

    agreeing with anon on this one

    While waiters have seen a decrease in tips. kitchen staff has watched their coworkers get made “redundant”, and cutbacks being made – which only means less pay for longer hours. On VDay I worked a 15 hour shift, no breaks – so did the rest of my kitchen staff…
    do we get tipped? no, we just get stupid servers who dont know their ass from their food, running around like chickens because there are a lot of people in the restaurant

    Try working in the kitchen on Vday, then complain about your shitty tips.

  53. Anonymous says:

    To Kitchen Staff, like wise we would like to see you on the floor, at least you can yell at the idiot server. The server can’t yell at the stupid customer. In my restuarant we can cross train and it is great fun for all when a cook trains to serve and when a server goes across enemy lines to the kitchen. Both sides end up scrambling like chickens with their heads cut off!

  54. Anonymous says:

    I did my part. 25% tip. Your welcome.

  55. Purple Dino Type says:

    Me to, also 25%. Just doing my part to help out where I can.

  56. m says:

    At my restaurant, we tip the kitchen staff a percentage on big holidays such as VD,Easter, etc. I have the deepest respect for our kitchen staff, they work very hard. I would, however, like to remind that they get paid more hourly, whether there is business or not…and whether they do a good job or not. If they get upset about a special order, or a guest changing their mind, I just tell ’em they can go ahead out to the floor and argue with my guest if they want to, bc I’m not gonna 🙂

  57. kcbelles says:

    Puzzles me to see so many waitstaff saying they were that busy. I’m a restroom attendant for a night club/restaurant and was looking forward to a good, busy night, with high-than-normal tips. Brought in extra stuff for fun (heart stickers, bubblegum hearts, heart lollies), but it ended up being a very slow night. Even the waitresses were complaining. Tip-wise, I did OK, but less than I normally pull in on a Sat night. Wasn’t worth spending $ on the extra stuff – oh, well.

  58. Suzanne says:

    Sadly, it was halfway through my overpriced, undercooked, undersized meal that I waited 1/2 an hour to sit down to, when I remembered your advice not to eat out on Valantine’s Day.

    It was still nice though – the first time in about 15 years I had a true sweetie to celebrate with, so I am not sorry. But next year I think I will settle for a nice meal at home.

  59. Lindsay says:

    My servers at an upscale family casual restaurant (of all things, in this economy!) on the outskirts of Cincinnati are getting ridiculously great tips lately! I’m thrilled for them (and a little jealous…ha). Plus, business is actually a little up around here from last year.

  60. Lindsay says:

    ah…forgot to mention. Luckily(?), my fiance and I are a) both in the industry, and b) in different states for Valentine’s, so we’ll get a much more quiet and enjoyable (albeit belated) Valentine’s dinner out next weekend.

  61. KenC says:

    My wife and I spent our weekend on the Isle of Skye this year as part of Valentines Day celebrations.

    The hotel we had booked into in Portree has a restaurant which has won several awards including Scottish Restaurant of the year in 2004 with a personal endorsement by the Member of Parliament for the area boldy framed within the reception area so I decided to book a table for Valentines Day evening as it promised something special.

    The menus were still to be printed on the Friday evening we arrived as there was to be a special menu for the occassion ( this should have been a warning ).

    Suffice to say that it was a big disappointment and could have ruined the weekend.

    I was asked if I enjoyed the meal and to my wifes horror I told the management exactly what I thought of the whole experience and of how dissappointed I was as the regular Bistro & Restaurant menu had excellent variety and was the basis on why I booked as it promised so much.

    Should have heeded your warnings after all those posts after all this time.

  62. Food Service Ninja says:

    thoughts on this VD…

    I am fortunate in that I am working at a startup thats been open since Dec 22nd which normally isnt such a good thing as normally the business is still growing and usually the kitchen is just getting all its kinks worked out by now.

    But I am working for a good friend of mine who is a chef graced as a local media darling. We had teaser reviews happening during opening and week two of operations with the most significant criticism was that our brownie dessert texture wasnt what they like and this obvious was personal reviewer quirk as its our #2 seller.

    Over all tips have been good with a 3.75% of sales tip out I have been walking with depending on the night 15-20% tips with it being closer to 20% most night. We also are upscale priced so the ticket totals add up-many night I am surprised to realize I sold over $1000 in sales given my fatigue level.

    VD it self I was some what concerned with as for the last 4 years I have worked in places doing four or five course prix fixe menus with auto grat of 20%. Always amazes me how many folks miss the auto grat which is plainly stated on any promo materials and their menus that grat is included.

    We opted to do regular menu with no auto grat. This did create so trepidations on my part. I was foreseeing worse case scenarios as I could dream how bad the wait would grow to-I forgot to mention we also have live music and normally tale resvation for 10 tops or bigger-for VD no reservations!

    We had the FOH staff all be openers and by 3- minutes to go time we have a mob forming outside our front door. Practically every table sat in 15 minutes after the doors were unlocked. We ended up on a four hour wait. I took my last table at 1030 on a night when we closed the kitchen normally at 11. Surprisingly they finished up quickly and I actually left work sooner than usual on a weekend night. Overall the place ran smoothly with ticket times getting wee bit longer than normal but nothing like the hell of most VD nights.

    Comments on other commenters-

    TO the moronic pro republican poster

    GET your HEAD out of YOUR ASS-the bankers are as responsible for the mortgage mkt bubble burst as anyone and I guarantee you they were spending millions lobbying and paying off our Congress under the table to get regs to allow them to write the crap loans they have been doing. Yeah the borrowers should know what they were getting into but some folks borrowing had never seen as an adult a downturn in the economy let alone housing mkt.

    To the kitchen staff whining about servers whining –>

    if you want the glory of better pay you have 2 choices -apply for a waitstaff position OR get good enough to cook at Per Se as their FOH tip pools with the cooks (they also auto grat under the title of service charge).

    There are lots of nights I go home with less in tips than its worth to me to leave my house (to me thats under $50) and on those SAME nights you get paid in full to just stand around, do early prep , or if its really really slow do general cleaning. Finally I have to put up with your for shit attitudes you direct to me and the paying guest(yeah that asshole as you call him who pays for your salary) and then has to smile and make him happy when I would much rather take the meat tenderizer mallet upside your thick skull.

    And to those wanting off for holiday XXX be it VD, easter, or mother’s day or even father’s days(why they want a overstaffed place for father’s day unless its a steak house I will never understand) I have ZERO sympathy for you. Whether you cook or wait or host its a busy time so its all hands on deck and we work it period.

    Some thoughts on VD dining—

    1. You get what you pay for. Spend top dollar for your meal. Go to a restaurant that does finer or full white table cloth and sommilier on staff type dining. Why? They have more exerience doing fu-fu cookery and so you wont end up with awful food as the staff knows how to properly cook it.

    2. Go someplace where the chef is well known with a signature style of cooking. DO NOT go some crappy chain restaurant unless its a high end chain like Ruth Chris or such.

    3. Book your party for next year NOW if they take resv that far in advance.

    4. Get a copy of the menu in advance if your dining above your general knowledge cuisine. Why? To ensure they have something on the menu you want to eat foremost-nothing worse that paying a fortune for dinner and your date dislikes the whole menu-cut the name of the place off the menu page if its a secret where your going. ALso if they use fancy words to describe a dish you arent familiar with you can save yourself the embarrashment of having to ask your server plus it doesnt slow down your server buy having to have a 10 min discussion of the menu when he just got triple sat.

    SO I only made have my rent on VDay but I am quite satisfied with. We also opened for our first lunch shift the Mon after VD which was such a joy-4.5 hr shift to wait on 3 tables, 2 2 tops annd a slol guy. I was most surpised by the who tipped me $10 on a $21 3 course meal

  63. Kym says:

    My philosophy, in these sad economic times, is if you can afford to eat out, you can afford to leave a decent tip. No excuse, other than lousy service, for scrimping on the tip.

  64. dave says:

    “Ill tip even more next time, to make up for staying home tonight.”

    It’s this kind of entitlement mentality that too many waiters have these days. Why on earth would you think your waiter deserved a bigger tip next time just because you stayed home and didn’t bother him? Basically, you’re paying the waiter for you to cook and serve yourself. That’s a pretty good racket they’ve got going.

    When I waited tables just 20 years ago, getting 15% IF you gave good service was expected/desired. Now, I see waiters have decided that the approprate tip is 20-25%. There is no governing body here so it’s kind of like Congress giving themselves raises every year. How much longer until you’re spitting in someone’s food because they didn’t leave you 100% the last time they were in.

    I, generally, tip 20-30% but you’re going to have do more than just slap down the plates on your way by. Too many today think that if the food gets to your table – automatic 20% – regardless of how infrequently you made an appearance.

  65. Caitlin says:

    I’m a teacher in california.

    I’d like to receive some tips too, but it isn’t happening….

    why should i dish out extra pocket money to give to someone serving my food? their choice to go into that career. it’s either never go out, or go out and tip 15-18%. i think the latter is better for all the restaurants and servers out there.

  66. Migalicious says:

    Sorry, I was going to tip 25%, but they waitress forgot to put in my to go order at the end of dinner, and then stood their talking to the other wait/bar staff 5ft away from my table.

  67. Toad says:

    For the record, reading this blog over the last few years has made me enjoy tipping, especially of waiters and bartenders. So you’ve made at least one convert. 😉

    The wife and I went to lunch for Valentine’s at an Italian chain. We got there at opening and had the room to ourselves for 15 minutes. The bartender served us, and we tipped 22%, ish.

    Hope your friend had a good Valentine’s day. 🙂

  68. grover says:

    Tip heavy on every single holiday, folks. Your service staff is choosing to miss out on the holidays in order to serve you.

    Please keep in mind that that harried waiter or busboy on New Year’s Eve may have to be back in the restaurant by 930am for the New Year’s Day brunch!

  69. Julie says:

    We are on a tight budget and so I save up money for us to eat out on special occasions. I make sure I have enough for a big tip, at least 20 percent. If I can’t tip well, we don’t eat out. On Valentine’s Day I left a 20 dollar tip on a 60-dollar bill. What is sad is, most people must not leave very big tips. The waiter from the restaurant who waited on us the LAST time saw us and gave us a big hello. He remembered us from my 20-percent tip! Must be unusual. I will say this – if the service is really, really bad, the waiter is rude, inattentive, etc., I won’t give the 20 percent.

  70. dave says:

    “I’m a teacher in california.

    I’d like to receive some tips too, but it isn’t happening….

    why should i dish out extra pocket money to give to someone serving my food? their choice to go into that career. it’s either never go out, or go out and tip 15-18%. i think the latter is better for all the restaurants and servers out there”.

    I find it odd that a teacher has trouble with capitalization and grammar. But that’s neither here nor there, I guess.

    The reason that you should tip is because your menu prices don’t cover the cost of paying the person serving your food.

    You don’t get tipped as a teacher because you get a salary. The average salary of a teacher in California is the second highest in the nation, $57,000 a year. Compare that with the average salary of a teacher in Savannah Ga at $25,000 a year. What’s the difference? The cost of living, of course. It’s the same reason why I make $2.13 an hour as a server in Tennessee and a server in California makes $8.00. But even though a server in California makes $8.00, it’s only slightly better than me making 2.13 an hour if you factor in the cost of living. I made $36,000 last year, including tips. Without tips, I would have made around $4000. for the whole year. If I wanted to be a server in San Francisco, I’d have to pull in close to $80,000 a year including taxes to keep my current standard of living.

    The alternative to tipping? Your menu cost goes through the roof when a large restaurant has to add the additional cost of paying a prevailing wage to their servers. Here’s a hint – it’ll go up more than 15 -20%. I can guarantee that. So, be thankful that you still have a certain measure of control over how much you pay for your food. Most commodities don’t offer that in the US. You can’t pay less for a bag of chips the week after your store has run out of them the week before, leaving you high and dry for that week. You can’t pay less for that pair of shoes because you can’t find someone who can tell you whether or not it was made in a sweatshop in China. You’re going to pay the full price for most things regardless of the service you’ve received before the pruchase. At least, with dining, you get to weigh in on your opinion of the service you’ve received.

  71. sly1x says:

    Just so you know I didn’t tip heavy on v-day :).

  72. bellagatta says:

    I tip over 15% if I get good service, if not I leave an average 15%. This is a job so earn the tips. We all have stories in making a living! I do not believe in getting a cup of coffee for $1.50 and leaving a $1.00 tip every time. it adds up. I drink 4 cups a day. You do the math!

  73. charity says:

    after a grueling Vday spent as one of three ‘seating hostesses’ at a very high end (albeit corporate) $100-a-head steakhouse (where we served our usual full menu), I headed to my favorite local bar to drink til i forgot the insanity of the day. i love my bartenders, and because i ALWAYS tip them AT LEAST 50%, they love me too.

  74. J-Rock says:

    Well then! I think I’ll start with this year’s Valentine’s Day. It was spent at my parents’ house, and my mom cooked a great dinner. My parents went out briefly, but they came back and said they apparently had the wrong night. Now for tipping. I had originally been confused about this, but thanks to your blog here and talking with others I’m now somewhat keen about how much to tip and when to tip. But one question does arise here. What if the food is bad? I don’t mean that people just don’t like it, but what if it actually makes them sick? Is there such a thing as retracting on a tip? One final thing. I am visually-impaired, and I have on a few occasions been told that I didn’t have to pay. This happened a couple times with cab drivers, and once in a smoothy shop that is now gone.

  75. Rachel says:

    THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to the author of this blog. Unfortunately, despite all good intentions, I came out with less than 10% on Valentine’s Day, which was incidentally my first night shift at the restaurant where I work. Note to self, NEVER again will I say “gotta jump in the deep end sometime right?” You don’t. Really.

  76. lauren says:

    I’m with Don R.

  77. wannabe pilot says:

    I just wanted to point out that a tax break is more like this. They’re still taking your money directly from your wallet, but they’re promising not to take as much as last time.

    Also, a refund is like they took twenty dollars out if your wallet, and they’re giving you back thirty cents.

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