This is an actual check from Nello’s restaurant in New York City. $47,221.09! Goddamn! Talk about living large.

Of course everybody’s wondering who got to keep that $7328.20 tip! (Did you notice it was calculated pre-tax?) As a former waiter I knew no single server got to keep all that scratch. If they tried they’d risk a post shift knifing in a back alley. So, to get the skinny, I called Nello’s and talked to the actual waiter who served those well heeled customers.

The waiter was very circumspect and didn’t want to talk about his patrons. No problem. I wouldn’t either. But he told me that tips are pooled at Nello’s and that night’s glorious take was divided up among fifteen employees – waiters, food runners, bartenders, bus people and a maitre’d. In a pool house it’s common to divvy up the tips according to a percentage formula. And while the waiter at Nello’s wouldn’t tell me what that formula was, it’s obvious that everyone had a nice pay day! Congratualtions guys!

Can I get a job there? Please?

68 thoughts on “Damn!”

  1. Steve says:

    it was the Russian guy that just bought the Nets.

    isn’t the tip always supposed to be calculated pre-tax?

  2. Scott says:

    The reviews on this place are scathing…

  3. Katie says:


    There was an article in the Huffington Post about it earlier this week.

    $35,275 is booze. If you take the amount that was actually spent on food, subtract the tax and tip and divide it among 6 diners it’s $227.67 a diner. Still a lot, but not quite as rediculous.

  4. MelC says:

    wow. that would make up for some lean shifts, i can imagine.

  5. MelC says:

    *would* imagine. sigh

  6. Mini says:

    It’s that Chelsea club owner! Me and my husband were discussing about this news that came in yesterday and were wondering how we can manage to get a job in there..

  7. Rav says:

    I read somewhere else that an additional 5K tip was put down on top of the gratuity. Judging by the reviews though I’m not sure I would want to work there.

  8. Steve says:

    Bearing in mind that the guy who paid this bill is worth more that an estimated $11.5 Billion – he would have earned more interest than the cost of the meal during the time it took to eat it – in fact he would have earned the cost of the meal in the walk from the limo to his table!

  9. Steve says:

    I notice too that according to the time on the check, that’s only lunch and not dinner!

  10. celiac diner says:

    Am I the only person who finds it odd that each of the famous-brand wines was the same price per bottle, $5,000? Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn them down if offered (as in, I wasn’t paying for them), but is every ‘headline’ type wine the same price on this list? My web skills weren’t up to finding a Nello wine list (I tried but failed).

  11. YANKEES FAN says:

    guy’s name is roman abramovich.

  12. elvis says:

    Calculating all the wine into the tip is kinda bs.

  13. J says:

    Exhibit A as to why the automatic 20% gratuity is ridiculous. A bill that is otherwise around $1,200 becomes a bill for more than $36,000 because of a few very expensive bottles. For corking and pouring wine and champagne, the servers at that restaurant get a $7,000+ tip? Insane.

  14. Sarah says:

    Actually, the tip was pre-tax. Multiply the 20% tip of $7328.20 x 5 = $36641, which we see is the original subtotal. Or you could also check by multiplying $36641 x 0.20, which also comes to $7328.20.

  15. KLD14 says:

    it seems like a lot of money to us little people but if you have the money to buy alcohol that expensive you have the money to tip like that. I had to give 5% liquor sales (amongst other tip outs) to my bartender and I would have DEFINATELY wanted a gratuity added to the bottom!!!

  16. MHA says:

    As elvis and J point out, it’s an interesting look at the question of whether you’re supposed to tip 15%+ on expensive bottles of wine. I tend to, though I’ve heard you’re not “supposed” to. (Of course, I also don’t buy $5K bottles of wine.)

    Then the question of a 20% autograt on such a crazy tab arises. (And sure, if it’s 20%, I see nothing wrong with calculating it pre-tax! Honestly, I see nothing wrong with tipping on the restaurant tab, and not the government’s cut, regardless, but then the number I’m using isn’t 15%.)

    The $5K on top of the autograt is a nice touch. 🙂

  17. LS says:

    So if he couldn’t pay, how many years would he be in the kitchen washing dishes?

  18. LS says:

    …And $12 bucks for “1 LG WATER” ? wtf?

  19. Debbie says:

    So, does a “$12 LG WATER” have a cheap cell phone floating in it?

  20. thirtyeyes says:

    5 bottles of wine.
    2 magnums of champagne
    2 shots of scotch

    for 6 people at lunch?


  21. Amanda says:

    Hey, you have a job! I NEED a job. In spite of the fact that, as I believe I told you, I’d be the worst server in the history of servers.


  22. lowwall says:

    5 bottles of wine.
    2 magnums of champagne
    2 shots of scotch

    for 6 people at lunch?


    You missed the 5 glasses of port at $55 each. And what’s with the $9 cappuccinos and $30 for an order of asparagus?

  23. D says:

    Anything referred to as a “chunk” should never have a $14 price tag (plus, I’ll bet it more closely resembled a ‘tidbit’ than a ‘chunk’.

  24. Stephan says:

    Can’t be mad at the servers who got this tip…I mean who wouldn’t flip over that? But after reading some of the reviews, I can honestly say that even if I had that kind of money I would never go to this place. Unless you’re just trying to be showy, I don’t get the point of paying 3 times what something is worth when you know darn well you could get something at a reasonable price just across town.

  25. leithold says:

    wow! this is like waiter jackpot! how many people in the party?

  26. starr01 says:

    wow, i don’t think there is a drink out there that i would pay $5000 a bottle for no matter how much money i had.

  27. Al Hunter says:

    Just illustrates the great divide. The range between those that have (too much) and those that have minimum wage (or less) keeps increasing. You should expect anger and disgust at these excesses rather than celebrations of a big tip!

  28. wonderland says:

    Imagine the stories you could write from that location.

    But hmmmm….

    I wonder…would the patrons be snotty wankers?

    Can’t imagine blowing that much money on a meal.

    Are they smart fellers, or fart smellers?

    You eat, you poop. It’s gone. Waddaya got to show for it?

    Sargent stripes in your undies?

    They coulda had a V8..

  29. Alice says:

    Why bother studying to be a doctor when you can just wait tables and earn that much? I wouldn’t mind how snotty and wankerish the patrons are, I’d be smiling on the outside and inside.

    I think the tip is excessive for the work done, but I say kudos to the waiters for catching a lucky break like that in these economic times. If the patrons are happy to pay the tip, and the waiters are certainly happy to get the tip, then everybody wins.

    I only hope the patrons extend the same courtesy/generosity not just to people who wait on them, but to people in need too.

    PS. Why so much alcohol for a table of 6? Wouldn’t they black out halfway through a magnum each. Kinda looks suss..

  30. Scooby says:

    Why so much alcohol??? That’s Russian for you, geez… Never go out drinking with real Russians ??? They drink vodka from a water glass;) I’m not kidding…

  31. Anonymous says:

    To all you naysayers who don’t want to tip on alcohol… piss up a rope. You buy it, you tip on it. Period. If you’ve got 5 grand to drop on a bottle of wine, you’ve got the 20% of 5 grand to tip appropriately. And if you don’t have it? Spend less. End of story, GTFO my restaurant.

  32. coffeesnob says:

    Looks like we’ve been undercharging for Johnny Walker Blue….

  33. M.A. says:

    All I really wonder is if he added the 81 cents on the tip to make it round out to an even number. You know, it makes it so much easier to balance the check book like that…

  34. Sare says:

    I’m not sure what is more vulgar – people who spend that much on a meal (in a country with such poor social security services)or a restaurant that charges $9 for a coffee.

  35. holls says:

    holey moley! the bill is two years of tuition for me!!

  36. husnain azam says:

    if team ibramovich is willing to dish out the dough on the alky, he shud be more than willing to cover the 20% tip… tht being said for those of you who think its rediculous tht the server(or pool of servers) made arnd 7000$ for an evenings worth of uncorking and pouring its not.I’ve also noticed some customers/guests who probably cringe every time they tip,seem a bit annoyed @ the fact the server had the balls to add a 20% gratuity,here’s why he/she did it. This was probably the only table the server was assigned on a slow wednsday night and with tipouts/payouts the server needs a security net,where he or she knows they walk out with a minimum of 15-20% and not waste thier evening away…..

  37. Chris B. says:

    I’m having a hard time understanding why someone would be angry about that patron spending that kind of money. He just put $7000 (plus another $4000 if rumors are true) into the pockets of the wait staff, and supported a local restaurant owner through food and wine purchase. It sounds like the patron had a good time, and helped a lot of people out to boot.

    Compare that to someone sitting on a lot of money in an economic crisis.

    I say, the more wealthy people spending like this, the better.

  38. Jawbone says:

    At first glance, I thought this was going to be a document from the Madoff mess, until I looked at the date.

  39. Ben says:

    umm is it just me or is $7.50 an unreasonable amount for an expresso?

  40. Daisy says:

    If you’re willing to buy it you should be willing to tip for it. Not insane. If you think this does not apply to you and wonder why you get shitty service repeatedly think about it.

  41. James says:

    There are three sheets of toilet paper stuck to lip and you reek badly.

  42. Richard Cranium says:

    You have a website about assholes at restaurants : )

  43. Rachel says:

    In the UK we have had Roman Abramovich for some time and he has had to work to win over the fans of Chelsea the soccer team he bought and a large cheque book has helped smooth the way. If, as a previous poster suggested, he has just bought a sports team, what better way to attract publicity and announce your presence in a sometimes cynical city than a story such as this – how much coverage would $47,000 buy in the American media? Probably not as much as he has through this story and he gets lunch thrown in too!!

  44. Janet says:

    12 dollars for a large water? I think this was the most offensive item to me. But at least they coughed up the recommended grat.

  45. Carrie says:

    This is hilarious!

    I’m trying to figure out how any plate of spaghetti could be worth $40, but then again, I’m not a spaghetti fan.

    But that bill is the cost of my BFA. It boggles the mind.

  46. Michael says:

    I’m just wondering if he had refused to tip so much would the management have put up any sort of fight. Hate to lose a paying customer.

  47. Michael says:

    The clock on your website is an hour and a half fast?

  48. siltedrepose says:

    That dinner cost as much as my house.

  49. Patrick says:

    First of all, it was 3 diners not 6. Secondly, I eat her often and the prices are ridiculous no doubt. The food is very good, but not nearly great. I can tell you the place is packed often and it’s aim is to keep away the phonies. This place is for the real swinger not some guy trying to impress his girl. My lunch last Saturday cost $342 for me & my girlfriend.

    Well people spend that kind of money on food and alcohol, they are not concerned about money. Get it?

    If you’re interested I can tell you a very funny Nello story that happened to me in their Southampton restaurant. I’ll just say it was an $800 glass of wine.

  50. dane says:

    completely agree with chris b. (and others) would you really rather the guy left his money in the bank and ate at applebee’s instead of putting the money into other people’s pockets? i LOVE it when the wealthy spend money! some of it eventually gets to me. only problem i have with (some) well-to-do people is the ‘better-than-you’ attitude. but then, i don’t much care for the attitudes of (many) of the lowbrow shoppers at wal-mart. btw… if you want to be disturbed (or laugh) go to http://www.peopleofwalmart.com – one of my new favorite sites, steve. of course, i still read yours faithfully!

  51. Hugh says:

    When Pelosi is done with us, It won’t matter how much money you have.

  52. DomainDiva says:

    Next time these guys go to lunch I want to be there. A good time was had by all.

  53. Tournant says:

    The kitchen didn’t get any of that tip? If I worked on that line I’d be outraged.

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  56. Reader says:

    It’s fake. Nello Balan is a liar and a fool.


  57. Booply says:

    Ya Chris B and others have it in the right perspective. I also can’t stand the fact that some people are “forced” to shop at wal-mart, seeing as how it is the hell-spawn of all outlet stores. I have been a room-server for over three years in the NW, and the biggest table I’ve taken care of personally was actually a private party for eight people totaling about a grand, and since our alcohol is pretty cheap considering many other hotels (largest price per shot is about 8 bucks and the most exp. wine bottle is an $80 Perrier Jouet), it’s just a matter of where you live and work. A grand for a meal here is about the same as three or four in a big city like NYC (not including some of the pricier bottles of course, as I almost never sell any here). Sure you see big tables spending more than you ever would for food and beverage on one meal, and when you see people with more money than you spending on something you can’t see yourself spending money like that on, you get a little taken-aback, but it’s better than them spending it improving our economy than what our gvt. does by giving it to private defense contractors and fucking bullshit like that. I’d love to see the economically challenged of america talk shit about this (what I term useful spending) when they see 1,000x of their life savings flushed down the toilet by our own federal government on a single agenda we neither get to benefit from or get to see come to fruition (as many planned initiatives fail before even remote success has been reached). Also look at what your privately owned businesses do with taxpayer bailout money (excluding the huge party the corp execs had in vegas that made the headline as that makes it look bad on both spending money at restaurants and taking bailout money and spending it unwisely) and tell me that a person with his own hard-earned money can’t spend how much he wants on what he wants; I’m sure most sensible people would call you a goddamn hypocrite, of course only if they knew better.

  58. Susan says:

    I would faint with a bill like that!

  59. Bronau says:

    Don’t get too excited about this; just a bogus publicity stunt by Nello Balan.

  60. Dana says:

    OMG Bronau, you killed the thread with that bombshell. LOL
    Good catch.

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  63. lifer says:

    I am a captain at a nyc steak house and had a $17,000 tab which included a 12,000 bottle of wine. we were left a $300 tip the gm asked the customer for an additional tip. We recd an additional $1,000. I would never had said a word even though this guest had tipped 3% on the total bill. We can look at this check many ways but how much more work does it take to sell a 15,000 car than a 400,000 car? or a 100,000 house or a 1,000,000 house. Life isn’t fare but if you had a business and you knew a customers money came from an illegal or business you didn,t approve of, would you stop them at the door?

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  68. expat says:

    OK, now we all know the gentleman’s name, we are talking about him, he will command oodles of attention and respect from his next restaurant version – I’d say he got off cheap on his new PR image! Celebrities pull this sht all the time – gets their name in the news~

  69. expat says:

    for the poser that was so high on himself for spending too much money at restauants that “keep posers out” – umm, I’m guessing you don’t dine much with people who are accustomed to having too much money – trust me darling, they aren’t getting ripped off like you!

  70. Vancouver Foodie says:

    Great writing, I love your blog, keep up the great job.

    I don’t know if servers in other areas are using the question “How is everything tasting?” but it is common here in Vancouver area, and drives me nuts. I was more accustom to “How is your dinner?” or is everything to your satisfaction.
    But “How is everything tasting?” seems to be a copout to only be interested in the taste, and therefore only the kitchen can be at fault.

    There is so much more to a nice diner than the “Taste”. So please if you use this phrase please consider stopping.

    Keep up all the good work you food service pros, a great server improves the enjoyment of the meal.

  71. Anonymous (The Restaurant Vigilantes are after me) says:

    Interesting surely… closest comparison I can come up with is a Brazilian four-top… 950$… ON BRUNCH!

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