Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tipping on Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster

There is a direct correlation (an inversely proportional one) of tips to shrimp taken home on Endless Shrimp orders.  The more you put in the box, the less you leave on the table for a tip.

If you are eating Endless Shrimp, you should tip at least $3 per person for each meal ordered, plus whatever is appropriate for anyone/anything beyond that.  I'm not asking for much, not asking that you leave $10 on a $16 check.  But $3 per Endless Shrimp makes it worth it for your server.

Also, the more dressing you use, the lower on average my tip will be, with the exception of light dressings.

If you put butter on your biscuits, my tip drops.  And by the way - holy fucking gawd - those biscuits are bathed in butter already.  I don't think you could get more calories in them if you deep fried them.  Enjoy your angioplasty.  Same goes for dipping the biscuits in any form of dressing.

If you add the letter "K" to the word shrimp my tip goes down.

If it is 10PM and you roll in with your 3 year old and let them order Coke, my tip goes down.

The words Hennessy, Patron and Courvoisier all make my tip go down.

Any Scotch that isn't rail makes my tip go up.

Red wine improves my tip.

If you ask for your fried seafoods to be well done, my tip will suck.

If you ask for your steak to be well done, tip sucks.

If you use honey mustard on something other than your salad my tip goes up.

If you smell of weed my tip goes down.  If you wear something with the image of weed on it my tip goes down further.

If you wear something that says Insane Clown Posse (ICP) my tip will suck.

If you wear a baseball hat during the meal my tip goes down.

If you wear a leather vest my tip goes up.  Goes up further if you have a beard.

Cowboy boots + non-cowboy jeans usually means a good tip.  Cowboy boots + cowboy jeans usually means a crap tip.  But only on men.

If you are a dude and you walk in holding hands with another dude, my tip goes up.  Confident gays tip well on average.

If you snap your fingers to get my attention, my tip goes down.

If you yell to me when I'm at another table, my tip goes down.

If you let your children run free through the restaurant like it is McDonald's fucking playland my tip goes down.

If your table has someone who is disabled - especially wheelchair bound - my tip goes up.

If you order the New England Sampler my tip goes up.

If you order fresh fish in any prep other than fried my tip goes up.

If you order the Rock Lobster tail (and the cooks don't fuck it up & make it rubber) my tip goes up.

If you ask for malt vinegar my tip goes up.

If you order the Steak Lobster and Shrimp Oscar my tip will be fat.


Moose said...

Hmm, perhaps the disability thing is why I don't seem to get the single-person-dining-alone attitude from servers.

BtW "wheelchair bound" is considered rude these days. Try "using a wheelchair" or even just "in a wheelchair."


Anonymous said...

This. This is the story of my life. You're right about the indicators of good/bad tippers, too. Well done shrimp? Fuck me. Butter with the bread? Fuck me. Fuck me with a rake if you act like I should I have known you wanted butter without you asking.

My other Endless Shrimps weren't too bad since I was attending school and only worked 3 days of the week. Now that I'm full time, I want to slit my wrists every. fucking. night.

theblonde said...

How true!
The one about a disabled person in the party really rung true to me, I never noticed it til I saw it in writing.
As long as you treat them with the respect you would any other customer, and don't seem visibly uncomfortable as some servers are wont to do.
Another great post!

Anonymous said...

Had the endless shrimp just last weekend and was thinking how unfair it was for the server. My bill was about $17, so normally I would leave $3-4 for a tip. But the server brought biscuits, then salad, then first order, then 3 more orders of shrimp. Also a new drink 3 times plus a final one in a to-go cup. And smiled everytime, apologized when there was any delay at all shoveling shrimp into my mouth. I tipped $5 and still felt like a cheapskate.

lee said...

i went for endless shrimp and my man got the admiral's feast. i told the waitress i was going to eat a lot of shrimp but didn't want to run her ragged. if i needed a refill, i would have my glass set at the edge of the table, ditto for the biscuits. if she was getting re-orders for other tables, please stop by. it went smoothly. i never went thirsty, she brought me out an abundance of shrimp reorders and even offered me a box to take my last orders of shrimp home in. i left her a $10 tip. when she saw the tip, she brought me 3 more reorders, a basket of biscuits and gave me and my husband drink in to-go cups to take home! it was enough for dinner. totally unexpected!

on the other hand, my friend lives in jonesboro, ar. and they wouldn't even let him take his baked potato home!

i went once right before the dinner rush. i told the server i needed 2 more orders of shrimp, and since they were about to get busy, could she please bring the check and a box for my husband at point in time. i was trying to keep her stress level down before she got swamped. she brought my husband his box nd the check. i tipped her well and signed it. then i asked her where my other shrimp re-orders were. she said she couldn't bring me any since she had already bought a box to the table. i ended up very unhappy and wanted to take back my tip. i mean, the first thing i asked her for was the reorders. i was trying to help her. i didn't siff her. i am probably the only customer who ever got stiffed on endless shrimp. that was lasy year, i now go to another location.

Anonymous said...

Great post- everything was right on...Tonight was another horrible nightmare..Friday night- all but 2 tables were ghetto-I always make at least a bill after tip out..usually more. I made 42.00 after tip share. I'm just sick- I have to find another job.

steve_in_pa said...

Lee (and everyone else who seems to think that endless shrimp is a wonderful idea)

We as servers are instructed to ring and bring refills one at a time. This is to avoid overloading the cooks, as well as keeping your food hot and fresh for a longer period of time. You'd think that there would be lots of extra help on, but staffing is based on the number of guests the restaurant will do per hour. This is known as 'throughput. Besides, there's only so much room on the line. So, with endless shrimp eaters staying longer than normal, guest counts per hour are actually less than normal, and the cooks are in reality cooking food for more people than they normally would. Also, endless shrimp is intended to be all you can eat now, not all you can eat now and later. You wouldn't take an extra plate of food at your local buffet and ask for a box for it, would you? Of course not. Server was just doing his or her job. Once the box comes out, the refills stop. I know it sounds mean and cruel, but we really do try to keep everyone happy while staying within the guidelines and trying to maintain our sanity. I've been through 13 of these endless shrimp promotions, as well as the long-since-passed endless snow crab fiasco. You wouldn't believe the things I've seen and heard. Maybe you would. I just wish everyone who comes in for this annual event would walk a day in their server's shoes. Would make them think twice. LobsterBoy has it nailed. Gratuity is generally inversely proportional to the service provided and shrimp consumed/taken home. And now, with the increased "mandatory tipshare", there are occasions it actually costs me money to wait on you. But that's a different tale. 2.25% of my sales, assuming a 15% gratuity (rough during this promotion), means that 15% of what I make comes right out of my pocket to pay the bartenders and server assistants. They get paid, even if I don't. Doesn't quite seem right, I know, but this is how Darden has determined we play the game if we'd like to remain gainfully employed. So please, try to remember this when dining at your local House of Lobster. Your server will love you for this. And welcome you with open arms.

frustrated_server said...

Three times the work for less than half the pay - who DOESN'T love working this promotion?

Anonymous said...

thank you Steve, that was well said. I just do not get people who do not tip extra for all the trips we make. Our store is pretty ghetto/white trash and our wait is around 45 min on fri/sat night. I thought I would make more money with this promo especially with 4 tables...not so.
I'm so worn out, I left tonight at nearly 1am and gotta show up at 1045 for a 12 hour shift with a 30 min break on Sunday. Is it a policy of this company to always be short of help and work people to death? Thanks again for the input..

steve_in_pa said...

It's not exactly policy to be short of help and work people to death, but the labor standards are created by folks in Orlando who appear to have little or no real world experience, and your management team is reamed weekly for going over these established standards by regional managers who are too far removed from daily operations. It's just a double dose of 'doing more with less', and the almighty dollar rules. When you're feeling down, just look in your alley at the banner that says 'Hospitality Starts With YOU', and remember, Darden is one of the "Top 100 Companies to Work For", and the only restaurant, since they nominated themselves for the honor. Happy Shrimping!

Anonymous said...

I am one of those hungry diners who love to eat lots of shrimp... I work in a tip supported industry too, so my tip is aways over the top for a hard working server...Didn't know that Darden started tip-sharing...those bastards! That really takes the incentive out of attentive service if you don't get paid for it!

lee said...

steve- reread my comment. you missed something. my husband always gets the admiral's feast, i got the endless shrimp. in the first instance, i was offered a box and then given additional refills without requesting them as well as the biscuits and beverages. in the second instance, he should have been allowed to take his potato as it's no endless potatoes. in the third instance, i reordered before i asked her to bring my husband's box for his admiral's feast of which he is intitled to every morsel. she shouldn't have brought out the box first, as that was not how i requested it. your comments aren't mean and cruel, they are moronic and stupid. i would NEVER ask for a box and continue to order shrimp refills with the expectation of bringing them home. i am not a lowlife and have never tried to get a to-go box at a buffet. you sound burned out. i would hate for you to be my server. i make my dining experiences easy on the server, even though you will see from the last one i posted, the server made it difficult. on me. i am offended you would assume i am a deadbeat complaining i didn't get shrimp to take home. i just reordered and gave her a heads-up i was finished after the two refills, and didn't wait to wait 30 minutes for my HUSBAND'S box and our check. if you convey this attitude to your actual guests, no wonder your tips are shitty. i wouldn't leave you a penny if you showed me that kind of attitude. you owe me an apology. remember what they say about ASSUME! you just epitomized it. maybe you shouldn't be a server anymore if you feel this way about the people make up the majority of your take-home pay. you owe me an apology. you can leave it here at your convenience.

Anonymous said...

Just a customer, not a server. The list is great, with a minor exception. I generally would wear a baseball hat at RL (didn't when I did ES last week as I did it on my lunch break from work). We tipped 30%. Us hat people aren't all stingy. :)

Jen Blacker said...

I'm so glad the servers have banded together to sue. It's about damn time.

steve_in_pa said...

Lee - I'm sorry i misread your post. The way I read it, those were two separate instances, and the second one was just endless shrimp, not the Admiral's feast. It didn't read that way to me.

"i went once right before the dinner rush. i told the server i needed 2 more orders of shrimp, and since they were about to get busy, could she please bring the check and a box for my husband at point in time."

Please accept my apologies for misreading what was written. You are absolutely correct that your husband is entitled to take along whatever remains from his dinner. And the other comments were not directed at you, per se, but rather the multitudes who order refills with no intent on eating them in the restaurant. Including the ones who bring their own Tupperware containers and hide them on the booth seat next to them. I am certainly glad you are not one of them. On average, I pack up 2-3 refills per person for those who insist I 'keep them coming', then the shrimp just sit there waiting for a couple of boxes. That was my intent, to inform the public. I do, however, stand by the policy stated on the menu that refills are to be ordered one at a time, and once the box comes out for the shrimp, there are no more refills. And if I were to give extra refills without asking, and packed them up, I would certainly be presented with a written performance counseling from management for giving away food.

Sometimes, those of us who do this for a living and have done so for twenty or more years need a place to let off a bit of steam, because it's nearly impossible to keep that smile glued on your face for 7-8 hours straight. You can only vent with your fellow staff for so long, because we all go through it. What I was looking to do here, is perhaps educate the dining public a bit, to enable them to see the big picture, the reasons for our actions, what each then creates not just on their server, but the kitchen staff as well as the rest of the guests in the restaurant, and even those waiting to be seated. I also guarantee that if I was waiting on you, that you would walk out satisfied, just as the 250-300 guests a week I wait on do. So please, once again, accept my apology, as I did apparently misread your post, and please continue to visit your local Red Lobster. We Sea Food differently!

Anonymous said...

Oh my God!! I was a RL gm...... was with the company for years....I was reading this with tears rolling down my face-from laughter!! It was hysterical and 100% true! Really enjoy the site now that I can read it and not have to worry about home office tracking!!

Anonymous said...

That is so bad.. I can't believe they waste man hours tracking where their employees visit on the internet or really how it is possible..I guess you all have to
supply your IP addresses..geez..glad you are laughing and no longer there.

Lobster Boy said...

They could track if you are accessing this site via one of the work computers. But from home they'd have to be searching your cookies which would be crossing the line of privacy unless you as managers are now required to allow such sort of BS corporate behavior. I certainly wouldn't put it past Darden to try such a thing. There are quite a few managers that read this blog. Some email me pretty regularly. And the good ones know that I speak the truth, and when I rant against managers it is for those dumbass ones (majority) and generally not them specifically.

Lobster Boy

SkippyMom said...

I agree with every one of these except the baseball hat one. [That's a personally thing tho' - on a whole I am sure they suck.]

And why is it when I say people who order Couv, Henn and Patron tip like shit people call me a racist, but it is the truest fact on your list. Especially if they mix any of them with Diet Coke. ::shudder::

I have been proven wrong by a lot of stereotypes in tippers [old people, non English speakers, young kids, etc.] but NEVER once did I receive even 10 percent from a table drinking one of those liquors.

Great list.

Lobster Boy said...

Of course with any list like this there are exceptions to the rule. I used to wait on some NFL players who almost always had lids on, but I'm not basing my experience off of outliers.

Lobster Boy

Amazed in VA said...

Reading through the comments I saw lee's post first and then steve's reply. I thought that steve had misunderstood what lee was saying and I was siding with lee on the mess up of the server - even though steve was nothing but courteous in correcting lee.
Then I read lee's follow up. Wow. Adults disagree all the time, but the do so in a reasonable and responsible manner [see: steve's comment] and I was taken aback at how awful and downright mean lee's attack was. So he misunderstood your post lee - his comments weren't moronic nor stupid - they were based on what he understood you to say. I could see absolutely no reason for you to fly off the handle at lee or defend yourself against being a "lowlife" by such a simple difference of opinion. He never even hinted at or suggested you were a lowlife, but your hackles sure were up.
This isn't my blog and perhaps I shouldn't be saying anything, but honestly? Lee, for your sake, relax, please? Try not to take things so seriously or assume people mean something they don't. Life is too short to get this angry over something so trivial.

steve_in_pa said...

Amazed - You'd be 'amazed' at the type of folks we encounter every day in our chosen profession. Many moons ago, I used to be a server trainer, and one of the points of service would be nicknamed "the Teflon Server". If you haven't already figured out what that meant, it means that one must be able to let things slide right off of him/herself, much like an egg slides right out of a Teflon pan without sticking to it. Can't dwell on the negative, don't take it personally, try not to let it stick with you. We're just trying to do our jobs. Thirty-plus years in this business, and I'm still trying to master that one. Especially when folks get in your face and make it personal. So here, in this anonymous faceless blogosphere, it's easy to 'get your hackles up', as you say. I try not to take it personally. You know what they say about opinions. It is what it is. As for me, all I wish to do here is continue my quest to educate the dining public, enable them to see things through their server's perspective, and create a common ground where guest and server might be treated with dignity and respect. A long arduous task, perhaps, a Mission Impossible, maybe, but if one doesn't take those first small steps and speak up, it will never have opportunity to come to fruition. On a more positive (for me, anyway) note, only 52 more days of Endless Shrimp! Come get yours before it's gone. And remember, industry standard gratuity is 18%-20% of the check before any discounts or coupons are applied, more if he or she has done an outstanding job. Thanks for reading, and remember, servers are people too!

Anonymous said...

After reading these comments, some from long time employees/servers, I find myself suddenly leary of going to Red Lobster at all. If I am going to be placed in some secret category as soon as I walk in the door because of the way I am dressed or what I eventually decide to order, I will be too preoccupied to enjoy the meal. I am thinking back to our last visit to RL and trying to remember what we wore and what we ordered. It was just lunch and I think my husband ordered basic fish and chips but have no idea what I ordered. We used a coupon from the internet but we always tip a minimum of 15% on the total of the order before the coupon. Times are tight for us and the only way we can go out to a nice place is when we receive a coupon. Our server was wonderful and insisted on bringing me a tea to go because I had enjoyed the iced tea so much. I had no idea that there this much distress behind all of the many wonderful servers we have had at our RL which is located in Paducah, KY. I never go during the endless shrimp campaign primarily because of the fact that they only bring 15 in the beginning and 10 after that. Lets face it, this policy was probably developed in hopes of waiting the customer out, hoping they will get tired of waiting for the "next 10" but from the looks of things, it isn't working in some places. I guess I feel like I should thank all of the servers we have had in the past now that I see what you must put up with. However, I also feel like wearing a sign the next time I visit that says "if you are going to place me in some low or high tipping category, at least let me know which one it is and I'll try to do better next time." Well, maybe that is a little busy, but you get the drift.

Lobster Boy said...

Everywhere you go people are making assessments of who you are by outward indicators. Good servers who are experienced in the trade learn over time to read people pretty well. Sure, we can be mistaken, and a good server gives everyone the benefit of doubt, but there are very clear patterns that emerge over time. We get to have a very large data sample (I waited on 100+ customers 50 weeks a year for over 10 years) so our assumptions are generally well informed.

And not all of them are negative. As a wise waiter my table approach at every table was tailored to the age, gender, ethnicity and dress of those at the table. Meaning what I suggest to the table up front changed from table to table. I wasn't limiting their ability to order anything they wanted, I was just planting the seed and often encouraging a thought that might already be there.

So for example, if I walk up to a table of 5 ladies all ages 60+ I suggest Coconut Shrimp. It's like crack to the older ladies for some reason that I have no insight into, other than knowing factually they prefer that menu item at a STRONGLY disproportional rate. I'd also suggest our white zin for a drink.

Come in wearing your softball uni and I'll suggest a beer or two. Old ladies with lots of gold on get martini'ed. Big nosed white guys with southern drawls get suggested something with either bourbon or Jack. Tables with anyone who isn't white get asked about our lob/crab stuffed mushrooms. And there are literally hundreds and hundreds of things like this that in a second I make snap decisions about based on past results. And I taught my trainees this system as well (to a smaller extent). I'd tell them to walk up and suggest a collection of items and they'd come back to me thinking I was Yoda or something after the table basically ordered what I suggested. Obviously, doesn't always work, but it does so high enough that someone uniformed could find it fascinating or spooky.

Anonymous said...

Non-white- lob/crab stuffed mushrooms! is it always so?

Anonymous said...

Hey there, Lobster Boy... have you seen the new "improved" menu yet? We now have a permanent $15.99 four-course meal deal, so now, not only are we getting run ragged with the @#$%& endless shrimp, we've got this freakin permanent promo that all the old people share "cause its so much food".
Also, while some of the new items are OK, I think they're just adding way too much to the menu just to appease the "veto vote". We already had various steak and chicken dishes... and now pork chops?
Your thoughts?