The Economics of Tipping


A reminder for all of us.

I still occasionally get the guest who will say, “I can buy this wine for half this price at the store.”  Which is true, but it doesn’t come with a staff to serve it and a crew of chefs ready to cook you an incredible meal from a fully stocked kitchen.  I wonder if the same people have ever priced grapes at the grocery store.  If they want to get really serious about cutting out the mark up, that would be an even cheaper place to start.  Better yet, if they buy seeded grapes they could plant the seeds and never have to pay for a bottle of wine again.

Most of you understand the absurdity of this logic.  Those who do not understand have already stopped reading to go buy grapes.  At each step along the process of making the bottle of wine the cost of goods and service, along with a healthy profit margin, are passed along to the next stage.  From grape to cellar, farmers, vintners, bottlers, distributors, and restaurants all add to the price of the bottle in advance.  There is one exception to this rule.  The person who opens the bottle and pours it actually makes that wine less expensive.  At the most basic level, the person who serves the wine pays for part of the bottle for you.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips


Calling All Experts


Care to step up to the podium?

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

-Stephen Hawking

We all know “that guy.”  He (or she) is the one that would lead you to believe he is an expert on everything, even when they are bluffing.  “That guy” has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of answers even if they have only wikipedic accuracy.  “That guy” seldom has as much information as they claim.  As a blogger, I try very hard not to be “that guy.”

There are any number of topics that I have not even come close to addressing on this blog that I would really like to see covered.  My problem is that I am aware of who comprises my audience.  It would be presumptuous, if not absurd, of me to write about wines knowing that there are a couple vintners and a handful of sommeliers that read this blog.  I have been a bartender, but some of the best bartenders in town read this blog.  I would never be presumptive enough to tell them how to do their job better.

For a while now I have been trying to come up with a way to get more people involved in this blog.  Today, I am asking if anyone out there would like to become a contributor.  I can’t pay you (which means you will make as much as I do), but I can offer all the fame and glory writing for this blog might bring.  I can give you a great title like, “resident wine expert at” which would look good on a resume.  More importantly you can share your thoughts with the world without having to maintain your own blog.  All credit will be given and I will gladly link to most anything you would like to provide publicity for.

Before you start having doubts, let me offer some reassurances.  You do not have to be the world’s foremost authority on your topic.  There is no commitment.  When you feel like writing, write.  Send it to me and I will work it into the schedule for the week.  I won’t impose deadlines or hassle you.  This is just your opportunity to share what you choose with the world.

There are several topics that I would love to find someone to write about.  They include:


Wine Varietals (common or lesser known)





Any Type of Ethnic Cuisine


Bottle Service

Restaurant Ownership


This is in no way a complete list.  If you have something you want to write about, let me know.  Send me your idea for a topic or what area you would like to be an expert in to .  I will review your ideas and get back with you shortly.  No suggestion is too strange and all will receive consideration.

This does not mean that I am ready to stop writing myself.  It is quite the opposite.  I have some projects related to this blog that I have really needed to dedicate some time to.  One guest column a week will free up some time to work on these projects.  A couple guest columns and I can turn this into the seven-day a week blog that I have hoped it would become.  If you have any other ideas for topics you would like to see addressed on this blog, leave them in the comments.  Maybe we can find the expert for your idea.

Fruit Flies


Welcome to what I hope is the least appetizing post that will ever appear on my blog.  While I typically try to discuss appetizing things, today I will talk about something less pleasant, fruit flies.  The season is coming up here in the Midwest.  I personally have had some epic battles with these pests over the years.  The best way to stop fruit flies is to prevent them before they get a foothold.  So in anticipation of fruit fly season, this post is designed to help you get a battle plan in place before they arrive.

Whether you call them fruit flies, bar flies, drain flies, or any of the other names they have, your guests find them an unappetizing annoyance.  The guests rarely take into account the fact that they are studied for tremendous breakthroughs in science and were responsible for the 1995 Nobel Prize.  They also fail to realize that the fresh salad and beer they are enjoying for lunch are the reason they are there in the first place.  Instead, they want them gone.  So after a little research and several personal experiments with different methods of fighting them, I want to share my best practices.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

How To Serve A Bottle Of Wine


There was a great debate last night at work about whether you cut the foil above or below the lip on a bottle of red wine.  I did some research online which proved inconclusive.  Then I remembered that I at least five certified sommeliers in my phone.  Want to know the answer?  Read on.

I will not contend this is the definitive way to serve a bottle of wine.  This is how I do it. There are rules on what not to do, but beyond that you can add a little flair.  Instead of writing this all up from scratch I decided to raid the hard drive and pull a section from my hopefully soon to be published book.  Knowing how to present and serve a bottle of wine is imperative to make the jump to higher end restaurants.  Like anything else it requires knowledge and practice to build confidence.  Hopefully this knowledge will help you gain the opportunity to practice more.

Read the full post at Tips for Improving Your Tips

Making Tips on To-Go Orders


Most servers do not deal with this topic on a regular basis.  Most servers do deal with the hosts and bartenders who do though.  For those who handle to-go orders often, these are a few helpful pointers.  For those who don’t, these are a few helpful pointers for the times when you help out the people who do.

Tipping on to-go orders is something even I struggle with.  Being in the industry I usually leave twenty percent to maintain good tip karma.  I often do so begrudgingly to a bartender or hostess who acts as if I am an imposition.  Both jobs can be extremely stressful and to-go orders can make it more so.  At the same time, the amount of time they have to put into my order for the tip is pretty minimal.  Putting the extra effort into to-go orders leaves huge opportunities for the person handling them to increase their income.

The key is convincing the person picking up the order that you are providing a service that warrants a tip.  Simply handing them a bag and making change is nothing more than they would expect at a drive thru with the added inconvenience of having to get out of their car.  Simply ringing up and bagging the order is nothing more than you expect in a retail setting.  People generally do not tip in either of these situations.  The advantage of being in a restaurant is that most people know to tip their server.  Therefore the key to convincing the guest to tip is in providing a service more akin to a server than a cashier.

Here are three ways to provide the guest an experience that makes the guest think of you as a server rather than a cashier.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part Two)


I had a dream about cows last night.  I have consumed more information about cows and steaks in the last week than any man really should.  I also consumed some great steaks along the way.  The difficulty in this topic is differentiating the marketing material from the facts.  The line is blurred because a great number of these terms were conceived as marketing tools.  I tried to sort through it all to provide you with a factual background to increase the knowledge you have to share with your tables and avoid the hype at the butcher counter.

This week I tried to tackle one of the most confusing areas for a server and a consumer.  The difference between some of the most popular and pricey breeds of beef is an incredibly complex topic and the basis for much debate even among experts.  The focus this post is the differences between Kobe, American Kobe, Angus, Black Angus, and Certified Angus Beef.  Confused yet?  Hopefully this will help clarify.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Servers Vs Dentists


Here is a little video I made discussing how people act differently in restaurants as opposed to say the dentist’s office.

For more funny reflections of serving visit our new friend the only slightly cranky waitress

If you found this post interesting or informative, visit the index for a simple guide to other content on this blog you may enjoy or find helpful.  Keep current on all future posts by subscribing on the home page or joining the Facebook fan page.

Selling Away and Selling Up


Great restaurants are often built around one or two signature entrees.  These meals get people talking to their friends and coming back again the next week.  Every menu has a few dishes that stand out from the rest.  Conversely, every menu has items that are not as well received.  Knowing how to steer your guests away from meals that will disappoint them and towards your best offering will lead to happier guests, larger checks, and more money in your pocket.

This blog will deal heavily with how to sell those signature items.  This post is about your backup strategy.  You should be recommending to tables the items that will make them most happy.  If they fail to take your advice and order something that you feel certain they will not like, it is you obligation to provide a word of caution.  How you do this is incredibly important.  Most servers will just take the order to avoid offending the guest.  Approached properly you can help guests avoid ordering mistakes while improving their perception of you.

Here are the steps to carefully move guests from sub par dishes to your specialties:

Read the full post at Tips for Improving Your Tips

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