Tip out owner the same amount as a bartender?
January 10, 2010 4:58 PM Subscribe
WaiterFilter: Is it proper to have to tip out your bartender when he/she is also the owner of the restaurant?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I work at a small, successful, independently-owned restaurant in New York City. We only got our liquor license a couple of months ago, and now we have a full bar. On certain busy nights the bar is staffed by an actual bartender; some shifts, the bartending is performed by the manager on duty. And in a couple cases, these managers are also co-owners of the restaurant.
On a busy night shift where hundreds of drinks are poured and I make over $200 in tips, I totally understand that the bartender should get a cut for all the drinks he/she made for my tables. On those nights, it should be noted, there is no busser/runner to tip out -- just me and the bartender/manager/owner, and we both work very hard to help each other.
But more often, I work weekend brunches. There are drinks poured, but far fewer of them, including some that I'm expected to make myself. And on those days we also have a busser/runner that we tip out about 20%. Usually I walk away from a brunch shift with about $100 or so, after tipping the busser -- significantly less than those evening shifts, mostly because of the major difference in liquor sales.
Today our manager/bartender -- who is also a co-owner -- cornered me about making sure he got tipped out, explaining that 10% (minimum) is customary. I told him that I'd assumed that the tip-out was meant to supplement a bartender's wage, and that I wasn't sure it was proper for me to pay out the same amount to an owner, because of the disparity in income. The idea of tipping out a combined 30% of my day's haul and walking with under $100, regardless of how few drinks were poured, seemed unfair to me.
My manager was a bit taken aback by this logic. It was awkward, but we talked it out and both admitted that it was a gray area we'd have to work on. The owners discussed and decided (for now) that we are only to tip bartenders for the big-money evening shifts.
My question is, am I in the wrong here? Is it customary (or legal) to have to tip a flat percentage for bartender services, even if the person doing it owns the whole place? Most of the policies have just been set as we go, as the place has grown, and it gets confusing because people wear different hats at different times.
I haven't worked in many restaurants in NYC, so I don't know what the rules are. When/if this comes up again, I want to be armed with as much perspective as possible.
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