Monday, April 22, 2013

A Server's Thoughts on Tipping, Diners and the Restaurant Industry

In the last couple of months I have read several Internet and magazine articles about tipping standards and the restaurant service industry.  I have been very frustrated by the responses to a lot of these articles and quite frankly, the ignorance of many of the people responding. My frustrations have really been eating away at me, so I thought I would just post some thoughts I have on the subject.

1.  Servers are people first and servers second.  Just because we work in the service industry does not give customers the right to treat us rudely or poorly.  I can't tell you how many times I get to a table and greet people only to be ignored or rudely acknowledged.  Additionally waving your hand at me, calling me "girl" or whistling in the middle of a restaurant to get my attention, is just plain rude. Thank goodness I was raised to be kind to matter who they are or what they do for a living.

2.  We are not all uneducated people unable to get a better job.  I am probably more educated than half the people I serve, but I choose to work in a restaurant.  The job I have now fits where I am in my life right now.  Many people work in the service industry as a second job to supplement their income because of the flexible hours.  Do not assume that we are not intelligent people or not capable of working outside the restaurant industry.

3.  This one is going to be controversial but here goes.  Tipping is not optional.  If you cannot afford to tip your server at a sit-down restaurant, then you CANNOT afford to go out to eat at that type of restaurant.  I make $2.15 an hour and I have been with the same place for 5 years.  This is the way the industry works, my wages are primarily dependent on tips.  Many people say that the restaurant industry needs to change and pay their employees competitive wages so they, as customers, are just expressing their opinion by not tipping, but your opinion hurts my livelihood.  The reality of the situation is that the restaurant industry is NOT going to you know how much your food would cost (in the US) if every server made at least minimum wage?

On the flip side, I do think you have a right to choose how much to tip your server.  The current going rate for good service is 15-20%. (I really strive to be a 20+% server).  If your server is exceptional, than go ahead and give 25% or more.  If your server is terrible...and I mean truly awful than it is your choice how you tip.  I have had some seriously bad servers, I mean bad (think scratching private parts and then touching my plate) and have actually left a restaurant without tipping (this is really rare for me because I will almost always leave 10% for bad servers since I know what their job entails).  But here's the thing, I expressed my frustration with a manager so that the person had a reason for why I left no tip and had a chance to improve.  Also, I NEVER look for things to "punish" a server.  I feel like many people do this as a reason to justify not tipping..."my food took forever to come out, you didn't fill my tea immediately, you didn't read my mind that I can't have blue cheese, the prices are too high, etc..."  Very few of those things are actually things I have control over.

Something to ponder, if you get bad service everywhere, is it the server or is it you?  We learn very quickly which people tip poorly just because they think they can or are exceptionally demanding and rude without compensating with a tip.  Many servers will write these people off and give them bare minimum service because they know no matter how hard they work, they will not be fairly compensated.  Is this you?

4.  Yes, you should tip on a take-out order.  I am not saying to give the server 20% for your take-out order, but 10% is a decent tip for this type of order.  Please understand that in many restaurants when you talk to a server over the phone and place an order, that server is responsible for the order.  When I take a take-out order (either over the phone or in person), I not only have to ring it up, I have to make the salads or soups, ensure your order is completed correctly, bag it up, and still maintain a good level of service to the customers I already have in the restaurant.  I can actually lose money on a take-out order because the work to complete it takes away time for serving the customers eating in the restaurant.

5.  Most servers really do want you to enjoy your dining experience.  I honestly want everyone that comes in our restaurant to enjoy their meal.  If there is something that could improve your experience, kindly let us know and most of us will try to help.

6.  Back to the practices of the restaurant industry.  As mentioned before, I make $2.15 an hour.  My place of employment is legally required to compensate me to at least minimum wage if I don't make enough in tips.  Here's the thing, this is not a daily practice, it is per paycheck.  I can work one day and make less than $5 dollars an hour, including my hourly wage (yes these days day I worked a four hour shift and walked out with $5 cash) but another day I can make $11 an hour including wage and tips.  Because the average between the two days reflects minimum wage, I don't have to be compensated by the restaurant for the really bad day.

These are just a few of my thoughts.  I am sure I am forgetting something, but at least I have tried to clearly express my thoughts and frustrations. I understand that not everyone agrees with me, and that is OK, but I feel better having typed all that out!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I'm still posting the recipes I made on baking day over a week ago.  Today's recipe is one I found on Pinterest.  The actual recipe is from a blog and these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies were pretty easy to make, if a little time consuming.

I'm not actually going to type out the recipe since the only thing I changed was to use smooth peanut butter since we didn't have crunchy on hand.  If you would like the recipe just follow the link above the picture.

These cookies are ok.  They definitely taste the best hot, right out of the oven.  Once frozen, they just lose something.  I probably won't make these again as I think there are better versions out there, and I can think of other ways I prefer to use my peanut butter cups.

Happy Eating!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Here is another recipe from my baking day last week.  James requested these Lemon Blueberry Muffins for quick breakfasts. I am not sure where I got the recipe from.  I think it is from Pinterest and was originally a cranberry based muffin.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

½ cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
pinch salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup oil
2 cups fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the yogurt, sugar, salt and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir together until moistened.
3. Add oil and mix, mix, mix until batter is smooth and homogeneous. Fold in cranberries.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into muffins comes out clean.

Lemon Simple Syrup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, heat the lemon juice and sugar together gently until all the sugar dissolves. Brush over muffins.

James really likes these.  He says they have a good flavor and reheat well from the freezer.
 Happy Eating!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

White Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have had this recipe bookmarked in my ever-growing "Recipes to Try" folder for a very long time.  James is not a huge fan of whole wheat items, but I love the flavor.  I finally decided to give it a go on Monday and I am pleased with the results.  The muffins definitely are more dense than traditional muffins and definitely have a wheat taste, but the chocolate comes through strongly as well.  

The original recipe is from the King Arthur's Flour website...which I love.  White Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins are worth taking a look at if you are trying to have a yummy quick breakfast, but add some fiber in your diet.  As usual, I made a few changes.  I used organic, non-fat plain yogurt instead of the milk, for the "strong flavoring" I just added extra of my homemade vanilla extract and I decreased the chocolate chips to 1-3/4 cup.  Also, I used my homemade vanilla sugar to top the muffins instead of coarse, sparkling sugar.

Let me know if you try these!  Happy Eating!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Today's Baking Session

It has been a long time since I've posted. Lots of things kept me from posting... James went on a trip, Mary got sick, we lost Mary, I was working a ton of shifts covering for other people, I got the stomach virus and then within days got a very bad case of food poisoning.  I'm glad that is all behind us, but I have had a really hard time losing Mary and haven't really wanted to do much.  I finally decided I needed to get some baking done so we would have some quick breakfasts and a couple of snacks.

I made Lemon Blueberry Muffins, Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Muffins, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup cookies, Mary Drops (I posted the recipe for these a long time ago on my other blog), Rice Krispie Treats, and not pictured is a loaf of whole wheat yogurt bread.

The bread didn't rise...not sure if my yeast is not good or if the bread was just too heavy for the yeast (it had whole wheat, bread flour, yogurt, and oats in it).  When it cools a little more I will taste it.  I imagine it is still salvageable and I don't mind eating "ugly" bread a long as it still lasts good.

I will try to post a better picture and recipes for the goodies not already on the blog later this week.

Happy Eating!