March 19, 2019

Food writer Mark Bittman "has bounced around since leaving The Times."

"He spent less than a year at Purple Carrot, a vegan meal-kit start-up. He wrote a column for New York Magazine and Grub Street. He started a newsletter. He posted recipes on his personal website. All along, he said, he had the idea of creating his own publication.... Salty, which is making its debut on Tuesday, will comprise recipes, stories related to food and more. 'There’s a large part of me that wants people to be interested in food agriculture, or policy, or kids, or immigrants, or race,' Mr. Bittman said. There will be no articles on restaurant openings, think pieces on super foods or profiles of celebrity chefs, he added. Some of the stories he has lined up go into racism in restaurants, how to buy an egg and how your relationship to food changes when you become a parent."

In case you were wondering whatever happened to Mark Bittman... that's from "Mark Bittman Is Starting a Food Magazine at Medium" in the New York Times, where I believe what's between the lines is: See? We were what made you great. The article begins with a quote from Bittman about what his life was like post-Times: "It was like I kind of fell off the map."

Here's his new enterprise Salty. Here, for example, is the article on "racism in restaurants." Excerpt:
During Jim Crow, signs delineated separate entrances for white and black customers at restaurants, [Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a civil rights leader,] pointed out. Black patrons were often forced to carry-out their food and bring their own utensils and condiments. Today’s segregation is less obvious. “Most modern-day racists are cordial,” he said.

There are subtle ways that restaurants can make black patrons feel unwelcome. In 2015, the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte sparked outrage when it added a 15 percent surcharge to food and drink tabs during the CIAA — an annual basketball tournament for historically black colleges and universities....

[Zachary Brewster, an associate professor of sociology at Wayne State University] says many restaurants are “very racialized” environments where servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example, or that they’re more demanding customers. Such stereotypes allow servers to express their anti-black bias while claiming that their discrimination is about money, not race.
ADDED: A big topic in the comments is whether it's really a myth that blacks don't tip well. Here's something from 2017, "Poll reveals who are the best, worst tippers."
Topping the list of best tippers:

  • Men.
  • Republicans.
  • Northeasterners.
  • Baby boomers.
  • Anyone who tips with a credit or debit card....
The poll found that in the four potential tipping situations (restaurant servers, hair stylists, hotel housekeepers and baristas), whites were, on average, the most generous tippers, not only in the amount tipped but in the number who say they tip at all.

While 94 percent of whites say they tip their restaurant servers all or most of the time; 82 percent of Hispanics and 78 percent of blacks say the same. Whites were also twice as likely to say they typically leave a tip that exceeds 15 percent of the total bill.

The survey parallels other studies using different methodologies that have found that, on average, African-Americans tip less than whites. The gap can be partly explained by education and income differences, experts say.

But another factor is that many blacks and Hispanics are simply less familiar with the social expectation to tip 15 to 20 percent, says Richard Feinberg, a professor at Purdue University who has studied tipping. “A lot of tipping behavior is learned behavior; you learn from watching your parents, so if your parents don’t do it, how do you learn?” he says.

[Michael Lynn, a Cornell University professor who studies gratuity practices,] notes that when he conducted a study to test familiarity with tipping norms, two-thirds of blacks and only one-third of whites – didn’t know that the modern American norm is to tip between 15 to 20 percent in restaurants.

107 comments:

Wince said...

First he went to the Purple Carrot, and now he's starting a publication called Salty?

Paging Dr. Freud.

CaroWalk said...

My son waited tables for a while in high school. Waitstaff of all races couldn't help but notice that black patrons didn't tip. Sorry, world, I didn't teach him that. It wasn't racism, but statistical likelihood.

SDaly said...

Mark Bittman went to Stuyvesant.

Dave Begley said...

"In 2015, the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte sparked outrage when it added a 15 percent surcharge to food and drink tabs during the CIAA — an annual basketball tournament for historically black colleges and universities."

The Ritz didn't want their servers to get stiffed.

Lucien said...

Gee, the guy seems like a perfect fit for the Times.

Henry said...

I've been reading a lot of Medium recently for the coding articles. They have some really great authors writing about software development, programming, and industry trends.

But along with that reading comes the promotion of what looks like a steady stream of tedious political editorials of the Salon ilk. They fail the "terribly boring" standard at one glance. It's depressing.

tim in vermont said...

Places that serve a lot of Canadians add a surcharge to the bill. Probably an animus toward funny accents. No doot aboot it!

Birches said...

Finally, a group of chef friends of different races sat him down and explained that no one would hire him because he was black. “People are afraid to put a black chef to be the head of a restaurant in the middle of the South,” Bowling, 42, says. Owners are worried that customers will be turned off by the sight of him, he says, especially in an era when “rock star” chefs are the public face of a new restaurant.

I tire of this idea. All of the people in the excerpt are most likely lefties. But they mask their racism by attributing it to the masses. It's ridiculous.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

[Zachary Brewster, an associate professor of sociology at Wayne State University] says many restaurants are “very racialized” environments where servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example, or that they’re more demanding customers

How does Prof. Brewster know it's a myth? It's funny to me when sociology-types make a point of believing/caring about the expression of people--their "lived experience"--and when it's disregarded. Apparently many servers feel that black diners as a group are worse tippers and more demanding. That's a myth, though (citation needed) and we must discourage servers from feeling that way and believing that since it perpetuates racism. Other times people or groups feel things, though, whether factually based or not the nice people and the sociologists say we all must take those feelings seriously and treat them as valid--usually we must take some action and/or modify our own behavior in order to placate the feelings or change the beliefs of others, for their benefit.

Isn't it odd? The determination of which feelings must be respected and which must be disregarded or countered just so happens to line up with a generally Progressive belief system (where we must care about the feelings and give credence to the unsupported beliefs of the more-oppressed groups but none to "bad" groups, etc). That's probably just a coincidence, though.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

I'll just say as the son of a waitress, people who don't tip or who tip less* than 15% do leave an impression. Over time these impressions build into a trend. There are lots of people who are like this, of all hues, religions and ethnic backgrounds. And if YOUR income depended on maximizing tips from "good" customers and avoiding the "bad" ones you would learn quickly that race and race alone is not a good metric. Bittman is simply trying to ride the wave of race-baiters who think every fucking thing devolves to race, and that makes Salty a losing proposition, IMO.

He probably thinks that when people are laid off because of "Fight for $15!" the unemployed should blame racism not the stupid min-wage laws. Because the true minimum wage is zero, an economic fact not lost on robot manufacturers.

Note to Althouse: I was not logged into Google as "Mike" earlier so my posts (on Trump tweets and New Zealand) appeared without my little icon, and until you publish them I'm not sure what name will come up, because we were logged into the sandy.mike google account my wife and I share.

rhhardin said...

There are subtle ways that restaurants can make black patrons feel unwelcome. In 2015, the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte sparked outrage when it added a 15 percent surcharge to food and drink tabs during the CIAA — an annual basketball tournament for historically black colleges and universities....

Businesses welcome people until there's a line to get in. The line problem is eliminated by raising prices.

There's mother racism on mothers' day, in good restaurants.

rhhardin said...

During Jim Crow

Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. Traditional.

Tommy Duncan said...

I'm going to need to put on my tallest barn boots for this one.

Heartless Aztec said...

I lived my youth under the auspices of Deep South segregation policies. 35 years ago while in NYC for my marraige I saw a small restaurant in Harlem called (if my memory is correct) Soul Food Cafe. Circled the block, parked and walked in. The whole place goes silent and dozens of eyes are on what apparently was their first white customer - ever. The food was home for this disconnected Southern boy. Concurrently my cousin Randy had the #1 cookbook on the New York Times Book Review - "White Trash Cooking" - Soul Food and White Trash food having always been joined hip and bone. 30 seconds into the trip down the cafeteria style line and a heaping plate of black eyed peas, collards and pork chops I had made myself family to the place. I fell in love with the ladies who ran the place. I went back for seconds. Recently on a trip we transited through NYC and I looked for the ittle place but what with the traffic and detours it appeared to be gone. Sigh. No racism what so ever just appreciation and food love on both sides of the serving line.

Fernandinande said...

servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example ... Such stereotypes .. are mostly true, as usual.

"Asians, blacks, and Hispanics are widely perceived within the U.S. restaurant industry to be poor tippers (McCall and Lynn 2009), and these perceptions are largely consistent with empirical evidence (see Lynn 2006b, 2013 for reviews). The data on Asian–white differences in tipping is equivocal, but on average, blacks and Hispanics do, indeed, tip less than whites in U.S. restaurants (Lynn 2013)."

M Jordan said...

Stereotypes are either lies or generalized truths. Labeling them stereotypes is a lazy way to bolster an argument and dismiss critics.

So my question is, are blacks bad tippers. Any data on this? I know the Amish are because my students who waited tables told me so. That’s anecdotal but it is data.

tim maguire said...

many restaurants are “very racialized” environments where servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example, or that they’re more demanding customers.

Do they have evidence that these things are myths? They can easily be explained as cultural differences rather than per se race-based. And while they may not be accurate today (but I bet they are!), they were true during my own salad days.

Tcdq1293 said...

Bittman was great about cooking. In fact, I bought and use his "Everything" book. Once he got into politics, it all went downhill.

tcrosse said...

There are subtle ways that restaurants can make black patrons feel unwelcome.

There was a big, popular bar in downtown Minneapolis that would switch the music to Country Western whenever a critical mass of blacks entered.

Charlie Currie said...

"[Zachary Brewster, an associate professor of sociology at Wayne State University] says many restaurants are “very racialized” environments where servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example, or that they’re more demanding customers. Such stereotypes allow servers to express their anti-black bias while claiming that their discrimination is about money, not race. "

My daughter, who started working in restaurants as a high school sophomore 22 years ago, will tell you, that's not a myth. I've even had black friends tell me it's true.

Charlie Currie said...

"Blogger Aunty Trump said...
Places that serve a lot of Canadians add a surcharge to the bill. Probably an animus toward funny accents. No doot aboot it! "

In the restaurant business, being called a Canadian, is not a form of flattery. If you're in Southern California and you overhear a conversation between restaurant workers complaining about some Canadians being demanding and not leaving a tip, they're not talking about actual Canadians.

Francisco D said...

My African-American wife (now ex) and I waited tables in the early 70's. She was vociferous about not wanting to wait on AAs because the majority did not tip. It was also my experience.

Exceptions to the rule were AAs that waited tables or ordered wine with their meals. Anyone who waited tables or ordered wine was usually a good tipper.

Neither my ex nor I detected any overt prejudice from the wait staff. People were resigned to giving free service as a cost of doing business. Those most affected by AA tipping practices seemed to be AAs that I worked with.

Chris N said...

Mr Bittman must come to Peace Plaza East. Our brutalist concrete blocks hold hanging gardens of kale. Combined with our insect paste, each community member receives the approved 900 nutritious calories per day.

There is no insect politics here.

***Race Bowl Tuesdays have been discontinued

HoodlumDoodlum said...

“People are afraid to put a black chef to be the head of a restaurant in the middle of the South,” Bowling, 42, says. Owners are worried that customers will be turned off by the sight of him, he says, especially in an era when “rock star” chefs are the public face of a new restaurant.

Yeah, if there's one thing the South is known for it's not liking black chefs--that and hating traditionally-black cuisine of course. I mean the story on this one is a guy who moved from that far-Northern city of Washington DC to the Deep South hell hole of Charlotte NC (in Mecklenburg co, the bluest in the state I think). There definitely aren't black owned, black run, and black chef-ed fine dining establishments all over the South, no sir; Atlanta of course has none. This guy's friends did him a good turn by explaining how things work--from that enlightened enclave of Washington DC he just hadn't had a chance to understand how truly racist the backwards part of the nation really are.

Sally327 said...

I have no idea if it's true that Black people don't tip or don't tip very well but if it is true I think it would be interesting to know what's behind that? Possibly, as a group that has historically made their livings in service type jobs where there is no tipping, they didn't see waiting tables as any different. Maybe good service is expected and should be included within the price of the meal. I understand that's the attitude in some Asian countries where there's generally no tipping.

Tipping protocol can be interesting. Having lived in Las Vegas for several years, there was lots of tipping, including in situations where in other cities there wouldn't be.

John Borell said...

"There will be no articles on restaurant openings, think pieces on super foods or profiles of celebrity chefs, he added. Some of the stories he has lined up go into racism in restaurants, how to buy an egg and how your relationship to food changes when you become a parent."

I feel bad about myself (not really), but I'm not sure I need intersectionality intermixed with advice on how to buy an egg. Certainly, there is a place for journalism about racism in restaurants (I'm sure The Atlantic could cover this).

But I doubt I'm the target market for his new site, even though I enjoy a good restaurant as much as any red state foodie.

Rick said...

[Zachary Brewster, an associate professor of sociology at Wayne State University] says many restaurants are “very racialized” environments where servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example,

If you're an associate professor of sociology and want to call people racist for believing a "myth" shouldn't you first cite some evidence it isn't true?

Michael K said...

Larry Elder has done shows on why black patrons get less service and it is the lack of tipping.

My daughter worked as a waitress at a high end restaurant in Tucson through college. She insisted I tip 20% whenever we were out to dinner together. 15% is minimum.

h said...

Commenters here often fail to fully grasp the logic of the left. The commenters believe that the argument being advanced is this: 1. It is a myth that black patrons are poor tippers; 2. Yet a restaurant instituted a mandatory tip policy at a time when the restaurant expected to have many black patrons; 3. Therefore the restaurant (and by extension the food service industry in general) is racist.

But the actual argument being advanced is: 1. The food service industry in general (and by extension this particular restaurant) is racist. 2. A restaurant instituted a mandatory tip policy at a time when the restaurant expected to have many black patrons; 3. Therefore it is a myth that black patrons are poor tippers.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Waiters need to check their privilege.

Heartless Aztec said...

Addendum: My cousin Ernest was the author of "White Trash Cooking". I have always confused cousin Randy with cousin Ernest.

Kevin said...

“Most modern-day racists are cordial,” he said.

That’s why I treat everyone with a bit of disdain and indifference.

The people sooo eager to make the black person in the room “feel welcome” are the racists.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Once he got into politics, it all went downhill.

Funny but that's exactly my take on Frank Bruni too.

MikeR said...

"In case you were wondering whatever happened to Mark Bittman"
No.

Mattman26 said...

As tcdq (I hope part of that stands for Dairy Queen) notes, when Bittman wrote about food, there was a reason to seek him out. Recipes, techniques, things about foods that you might not have been familiar with--you could learn interesting things, and learn to cook and eat better.

Then he switched to the vegan thing, politics of agriculture, sustainability, blah blah blah, and who needs that? With or without the Times, just another crashing left-wing bore.

My table-waiting life ended in the late 80s, but it ran for many years, from middlebrow burger places to some pretty high-end fine dining. At least back then, the "myth" was true; not all the time, of course, but a large enough percentage of the time, and with a large enough sample size, to demythologize the myth.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

15% is minimum.

It should be noted that this number does not come out of the air, it is specifically tied to the IRS rule that assumes 15% tipping and taxes wait staff accordingly. So if you get less than 15% as a tip you are overpaying your taxes on that transaction (i.e. too much is withheld by employer) and if you get more you actually get a little cash bonus. Without the government sticking their nose into the transaction and mandating 15% the transactions would be, like the old days, based on the wait staff actual salary, not the voluntary portion that varies. We are ALL supposed to declare cash tips, but only wait staff get punished by the IRS if their customers fail to "volunteer" the way the government decrees.

MikeR said...

"She insisted I tip 20% whenever we were out to dinner together. 15% is minimum."
'Psychologists have a name for people who tip for slow, sullen, sloppy service. The word is "stupid".'

Mattman26 said...

By the way, if anyone has any questions about how to buy an egg, let me know and I will fill you in. It tends to be a pretty straightforward transaction, although they are cheaper by the dozen.

Gahrie said...

where servers and managers perpetuate old myths about black diners — that they don’t tip well, for example, or that they’re more demanding customers.

In my experience, neither one of these is a myth.

Jamie said...

About chefs: symphonies started hiring more women when they instituted blind auditions. Maybe restaurants should try that too.

About tipping: sigh. Some very good friends live in Seattle; after the $15 minimum wage hit, we visited there and went out several times with our friends, who are self-declared bleeding-heart liberals. And they simply no longer tip. They told us that that's a generalized response, at least in their peer group, to the concomitant rise in restaurant prices.

I don't know how to treat tipping, either there or elsewhere; I know that where servers receive low wages and are expected to make up their nut through their tips, I am expected to supplement their incomes by at least 15%, and more likely 20%, and I do, regardless of quality of service. Because tips are so often treated as de-facto salary, I can see why a restaurant, when faced with an influx of non-local customers who have no incentive for staying in the restaurant's or their neighbors' good graces, would consider going to a de-facto "$15 minimum wage" via a surcharge added to every bill. As long as they announce it so that patrons don't blindly tip on top of it, the way restaurants often do with large parties, I have no particular problem with it. So I guess the question is, when there are other non-business events in town (I suspect businesspeople are pretty good tippers since they're often expensing their meals), does the restaurant also add a surcharge?

(I'd think that's the most defensible solution to the "racism" question: whenever there's a big "do," publicly add the surcharge. Then it no longer matters whether there is statistical backup for whether black patrons tip at the same rates as patrons of other ethnicities.)

tcrosse said...

Bittman's cook books are quite good. The recipes are more advisory than prescriptive, in that he gives suggestions for how the reader might use his imagination with the materials at hand.

Birkel said...

Young parents of young children tend to tip poorly.
I guess that makes me an anti-something-or-another.
Or possibly a something-or-another-ist.

Birches said...

FYI, the CIAA tournament had been played in Charlotte since 2008. I'm guessing by 2015, the wait staff had some empirical evidence about the amount of tips on that weekend.

Birkel said...

Has anybody asked AOC?

Temujin said...

First- before the racist stuff, can I just say that the last thing we need is another person calling themselves a food expert, giving us the next 'Blueberries should be eaten at all times' superfood fad. The human body has a need for a full array of foods- in moderation. Experts have given us a multitude of dietary fads that go nowhere once we've had time to actually look at them. The biggest culprit being our Fed Govt with it's food hierarchy pyramid. How's your waistline going out there folks?

No more celebrity chefs, please. It destroyed the restaurant biz.

On the racism in that business- it's the world. The restaurant industry is like the UN. Everyone is in it, either as a worker or as a guest. This is coming from someone who spent half his life (I'm in mid 60s) working in and running restaurants from Detroit (home of Wayne State professor quoted here) to Charlotte, Chicago, Florida, California and on and on. Here's some views on who tipped and who did not, when I was in it.

There are a large number of stereotypes about peoples and how they tip. Like most of life, these are based in a bit of truth and a bit of folklore. Not hate, mind you. Just ignorance of the 'other'. That goes all around. I mean everyone is like that.

It was always told to me that Canadians (of all people) were horrible tippers. Heard and saw it myself in Detroit. Also saw it throughout the state of Florida. Is it all Canadians? No, of course not. But it appears to be a cultural thing. Heavy tipping is probably just not done in Canada....? As for others who were considered light tippers: (hold your feelings folks.) Just telling you how it used to be: Indians (from India), ALL young people. Young people have no money (unless they were themselves restaurant workers. Restaurant workers are notoriously LARGE tippers.), old people (when you see the calculators coming out, you know you're screwed), anyone who expressed verbal shock at the menu prices, and...black families. Note: not black individuals or couples. Black couples tipped hugely. Most couples on a date did, black or white, because guys were always looking to appear as shooters. But black families did not tip well. Oh..guess what: White families did not tip well either. So...as it turns out, families are work, and don't tip. So what to do with this info? This is not a scientific poll. This is merely my reporting what I saw and heard in my years in the biz. And there were more: Old people I mentioned. But old Jews? Horrible tippers. Young Jews were good tippers. Something happened when they got older. When all people get older. I suspect it has to do with budgeting your money, huh? Another one: Italians tipped hugely and seemingly for no reason at all. So- regular Italians got taken care of- mob connections or not. We would just assume everyone was connected. Sorry for any feelings hurt here. This is the world- as it was a few years ago.

And we got along far better then than people do today. Far better. We were up front and we got along. Today everyone's ass is tight and no one gets along.

Ken B said...

Jamie
That study about orchestras hiring more women after blind auditions turns out to be a myth
https://kenblogic.blogspot.com/2019/03/another-myth-busted-blind-auditions.html

tcrosse said...

"In case you were wondering whatever happened to Mark Bittman"

Answers to questions no one is asking.

Openidname said...

"Jamie said...

"Symphonies started hiring more women when they instituted blind auditions."

A myth, apparently. See here: https://medium.com/@jsmp/orchestrating-false-beliefs-about-gender-discrimination-a25a48e1d02

J. Farmer said...

Tables in restaurants are categorized by how many customers they can seat (e.g. two-top, four-top, six-top, etc.). Tables seating all black customers are often derisively referred to by staff as a "black top," which is short hand for the expectation that wait staff will be run ragged and very poorly tipped (if at all). Stereotypes become stereotypes for a reason.

John henry said...

Wasn't there a curb your enthusiasm where Wanda Sykes raised hell with Larry because he "fixed a black man's tip"?

Larry had lunch with a black man who larry felt undertipped. Larry added some money and got called out as a racist by Wanda for doing so.

Is it racist of blacks to undertip?

Fwiw I identify as hispanic and normally tip 20% of the total bill. Now many checks include 15, 18 & 20 % tips based on untaxed portion so I pay that.

When a mandatory 15% is added to the bill I never pay more. I understand but dislike mandatory tipping. I will sometimes mention tha I would normally pay 20%

John Henry

John henry said...

I oncein the old train station in Indianapolis, had a server chase us out of the restaurant claiming we had only tipped about 14%. Some gave her a couple extra dollars to shut her up but it was a very unpleasant experience.

John Henry

cubanbob said...

In South Florida restaurants have a problem with tipping as well due to European, Latin American and Urban tourists so places that cater to tourists tend to include the gratuity on the check with the option to add more. That solves the appearance of discrimination problem and the IRS is happy.

John henry said...

It's OK Heartless. It just emphasizes The Importance of Being Earnest.

John Henry

M Jordan said...

Ann, thanks for survey data on tipping. I may have missed it first go-round or perhaps it was an update.

At any rate, I have long chaffed at the argument technique of screaming “Stereotype ... shutup.” Stereotypes are nothing more than inductive reasoning, that is pattern seeking. Most of the ones I’ve encountered in my life are fairly true portraits. The problem with stereotypes is the same problem inherent in correlations: they can be mistaken for deductive conclusions which are, by defintion, irrefutable.

Jokah Macpherson said...

"During Jim Crow, signs delineated separate entrances for white and black customers at restaurants, [Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a civil rights leader,] pointed out. "

William Barber is a ubiquitous face here in North Carolina. He is always on the lookout for new ways to draw attention to William Barber. But in all fairness, he played a key role in the achievement of important civil rights victories such as...um...

Greg Hlatky said...

My wife and I often dine out at the same places. We order without fuss, treat the staff with friendly humor, talk quietly, tip well and leave when we're done. As a consequence, we have a good reputation and get treated like royalty.

CJinPA said...

Today’s segregation is less obvious. “Most modern-day racists are cordial,” he said.

I appreciate that Rev. Barber uses overt racism as he calls out the more subtle racism of others. He doesn't mince words when smearing a huge swath of his fellow countrymen.

And, as is always the case, he finds a somewhat-influential outlet to promote it.

rehajm said...

The best tippers are people who used to work for tips...

In my experience the worst tippers are the people who take the ferry down from Providence on Sunday with their family. Thanks for the dollar...

rehajm said...

I'm looking for a way to short Bittman's latest venture...

msugi said...

Two comments:

1.
I'm totally confused about tipping. Is it off the total? I didn't think I should tip tax? Do you tip off dollar amount or actual service, since the total bill isn't calibrated to labor necessarily? What about buffets? You go get your own food and sometimes drink and never relate to a human, but there is a lot of clearing of dishes, etc.

2.
My then 14 yr old son on an East Coast school history trip saved his money to treat to dinner a gal who used to live with us for years but then moved to NYC. He wanted to go to the Polo Lounge so I arranged it and later went to pick him up and order something myself, but was startled when I soon realized we were seated in a corner exclusively filled with non-whites. I walked around the restaurant and my eye confirmed it. A black couple got up after finishing their meal and their table was filled with another black couple. I didn't have the heart to point this out to my son and thus ruin his evening - it was really cute - but that was a rude awakening for me.

Wilbur said...

Several years ago the 2nd Mrs. Wilbur and I took another couple to a Nouveau-Cuban restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale. Without getting into the details, the entire experience was a fiasco, from getting seated to getting the check. The service also being bad (in a near-empty facility) I stiffed the waiter. Zero tip, something I don't remember ever doing elsewhere.

We were waiting outside for the valet to pull up the car, when our waiter comes storming up to me, demanding to know why there was no tip.

It did not end well. For him.

CJinPA said...

Greg Hlatky said...
My wife and I often dine out at the same places

--

That's sad. You should ALWAYS dine together!

Sorry.

Rick said...

So this is one of those Accurate but Fake myths? Along with Fake but Accurate the left has a tool for every occasion.

But another factor is that many blacks and Hispanics are simply less familiar with the social expectation to tip 15 to 20 percent, says Richard Feinberg, a professor at Purdue University who has studied tipping.

This is revealing. The question is whether the belief blacks tip less is factual or racist. The justification or cause for why blacks don't tip isn't relevant to understanding the conclusion servers are reacting to reality. It's included because the "researchers" either feel the need to defend their reliably left wing allies or know they will be attacked for not doing so and are protecting themselves.

Skippy Tisdale said...

There are subtle ways that restaurants can make black patrons feel unwelcome. In 2015, the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte sparked outrage when it added a 15 percent surcharge to food and drink tabs during the CIAA — an annual basketball tournament for historically black colleges and universities....

I was in New Orleans during the Bayou Classic a few years back and the Pelican Club -- best cioppino in the world -- was closed. I really think it's because they didn't want to serve the alumni from Southern and Grambling Universities.

PS Moderated comments is fascism.

- A decade plus, never miss a day reader

jimbino said...

Tipping, like giving Christmas and birthday presents other than cash, is seen as economically foolish and socially negative behavior by economists who study the problem. Tipping encourages free-riding and contributes to a shortage of good chefs, for starters.

cf. https://www.economist.com/gulliver/2015/10/26/the-case-against-tipping

Skippy Tisdale said...

My wife and I often dine out at the same places. We order without fuss, treat the staff with friendly humor, talk quietly, tip well and leave when we're done. As a consequence, we have a good reputation and get treated like royalty.

^^This^^

I tip 50-100+% because I used to work in restaurants. And because I do, I too am treated like royalty.

To reiterate: Moderated comments is fascism.

Jamie said...

Thank you to those who pointed me to the Medium discussion of blind symphony auditions! I fell for the convenient conclusion (which also makes intuitive sense) that in blind auditions, more women would be hired by symphonies (I should add that I was assuming we were talking about the Old Days) - but apparently, at least according to the analysis in Medium, men actually do a little better in those auditions. Okay then!

I brought it up originally to suggest that restaurants could do "blind auditions" for chefs - but it occurs to me only now, not being a watcher of "Hell's Kitchen" or any of those reality shows about restaurant management, that there's a lot more to being a head chef than just cooking. And interacting with the rest of the staff absolutely must be part of any "audition" process, it seems to me. So my prior comment shouldn't have made the Great Cut at all!

walter said...

"the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte sparked outrage when it added a 15 percent surcharge to food and drink tabs during the CIAA — an annual basketball tournament for historically black colleges and universities"
--
So..is that their busiest event/highest traffic day?
It's interesting how much chatter can revolve around an expected tipping rate without mention of performance.

Big Mike said...

I'm totally confused about tipping. Is it off the total? I didn't think I should tip tax? Do you tip off dollar amount or actual service, since the total bill isn't calibrated to labor necessarily? What about buffets? You go get your own food and sometimes drink and never relate to a human, but there is a lot of clearing of dishes, etc.

@msugi, I tip 20% of the pre-tax total. Out here in semi-rural Virginia it may be a little on the generous side. I am a bit less generous if service is poor, but if the service is good and the cooking is poor (lousy chef) I do not take it out on the waiter. Hope this helps.

Kevin said...

But another factor is that many blacks and Hispanics are simply less familiar with the social expectation to tip 15 to 20 percent, says Richard Feinberg, a professor at Purdue University who has studied tipping. “A lot of tipping behavior is learned behavior; you learn from watching your parents, so if your parents don’t do it, how do you learn?” he says.

It's not their fault.

Is that how we treat everything? How about racism? Is racism, as another example of a cultural norm, excused for people who just don't know any better? Or is it considered an inherent character defect?

Why are racists publicly thrown out of restaurants while people who discriminate against waitstaff are shrugged off?

Perhaps if the minority vote were evenly split, while waiters, bartenders and buspersons voted 90% Democrat, we'd see the reverse.

Kevin said...

Tipping, like giving Christmas and birthday presents other than cash, is seen as economically foolish and socially negative behavior by economists who study the problem. Tipping encourages free-riding and contributes to a shortage of good chefs, for starters.

Yeah, when pollsters ask black people why they don't tip this is always the answer they give.

Michael said...

If the size of a tip is going to change your life you shouldn’t be eating out. Servers depend on tips to live. If you can’t give a $25 tip on a $100 restaurant bill then $10 must make a difference in how you live.

It is absolutely no myth that blacks are crappy tippers.

Greg Hlatky said...

Of course, we've seen parties of 20 (really) who scream down and across the table at each other, cackle at the top of their lungs, constantly yak on their cell phones and leave, when they finally do, with the table and floor surrounding and underneath looking like a disaster area. To put it mildly, this discourages guests of more moderate behaviors.

By the by, if you've had a good dinner and good service, it won't kill you to call the manager over and tell them. The manager and the server will appreciate it.

Krumhorn said...

In the restaurant business, being called a Canadian, is not a form of flattery. If you're in Southern California and you overhear a conversation between restaurant workers complaining about some Canadians being demanding and not leaving a tip, they're not talking about actual Canadians

I live in Southern California. When my wife and I and our friends talk about Canadians, we’re actually talking about Armenians. We’re are surrounded by Armenians. When we talk about going to our favorite Canadian restaurant, we’re actually talking about Canadian restaurants...sarcastically. I mean, who has a favorite Canadian restaurant? I ax ya’.

- Krumhorn

Roger Sweeny said...

When the truth is racist,
Telling the truth must be racist.
Right?

fivewheels said...

Last week I ate at a diner where I sometimes go for breakfast. I took my check up to the register, paid with a 20 for a $15.40 bill, and stuck my change in the pocket of my hoodie so I could leave it as the tip after I visited the restroom. Then I returned to the table to collect my coat and such and left.

When I got to work, I found the $4.60 still in my pocket. I had 100 percent accidentally stiffed them. What do I do now? I think I have to never go back again. It's too bad, because I like their waffles.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

"Tables seating all black customers are often derisively referred to by staff as a "black top,"

The cat's out of the bag. They'll have to call them "asphalt", "pavement", or "Tulane".

Tomcc said...

My mother's parents were immigrants from Ireland; both grew up extremely poor. After my grandfather retired, they bought a small house in Florida and would spend winters there (leaving Pittsburgh winters behind). In their later years, my mother would drive down and bring them back. When they stopped for food, my grandfather would leave a tip. My grandmother would frequently go back to the table and reduce it!

Michael said...

There is such a longing on the part of lefties for the bad old 1960s when the counters were segregated and the fire hoses were primed. When the South was a hotbed of racism and nooses were pre-tied in every redneck closet. And so they fantasize that Charlotte is inhospitable to a black chef. This is not just ludicrous it is crazy.
I often travel in the back country of the Deep South off the interstate, off the Federal highways, off the county roads, off the paved roads and into deepest darkest redneckville’s gravel and red dirt roads and I see far more mixed race couples and their kids than I do Confederate flags. Old myths die hard especially when they are useful to ginning up racial discord or providing imaginary threats.
Whites and blacks get along quite well down here in Dixie. We even eat together even if we tip differently.

Bruce Hayden said...

"She insisted I tip 20% whenever we were out to dinner together. 15% is minimum."

For us, 20% is a minimum. We were at an Olive Garden last weekend, and ate at the bar. I thought the service was mediocre, at best. But every time they would do anything for us, my partner would try to shame me into giving a big tip by stating that to me so that they could hear her. Then, she checks afterwards to see how much I tipped. I wasn’t going to go above the 20% because I thought that the service was mediocre for that chain. This is one of the places where I don’t tell her the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. In short, I will, at times, lie to her about my tips.

I was raised that 15% was standard, so I don’t go below that, but don’t go obnoxiously above 20%, without good cause. She, on the other hand, was raised in Las Vegas, where hospitality is king, and then was married to the executive banquet chef for one of the biggest hotels there. He would sometimes get $5k, maybe even $10k, for a banquet, which he would split with everyone working for him. Still that meant he routinely could walk away with $1k or more in a single night. And then when they went out, which as singles dating, or newly weds, was often, he would give back, never going below 25%. Then, she was married to a guy who turned a blue collar career into a gold mine. Again, heavy tipping. And, finally, her daughter met her husband working at a restaurant. They went on from that to bigger and better careers, but that is part of their history. The result is that the three of them are probably in the 25% range as tippers. Which is fine, when they pay, but if I am the one paying, I tend to start at maybe 20%, then calculate the hourly wage of the waiter/ress based on how long we were there, how many tables they are working, etc., and adjust the tip up or down based on that and whether service was good, bad, or indifferent. And then, if I go against her wishes, I do what any self respecting guy would do to maintain domestic harmony - I lie. Unless it is the sort of place where they keep track of your tipping and use that to determine whether or not to give you a table, at a decent time, in a decent location, the next time you go there.

I have a hard time believing that anyone would need a calculator for tipping:
10% - right shift total one decimal place
15% - right shift total one place, divide by two, and add together
20% - divide by 5 (or right shift one decimal place and double)
25% - divide by 4 (or divide in half twice).

Wilbur said...

fivewheels:

I had a similar experience once. Go back there as soon as you can, find the server, briefly explain and apologize and give them the tip money. You'll be treated very well there from then on.

walter said...

Enlightened...oh wait...elevated splainin':

https://wearyourvoicemag.com/race/racist-history-tipping

"The roots of the tipping system are racist, and low-wage workers who rely on tips tend to be disproportionately women and people of color today.

According to Saru Jayaraman, writing for University of California, Berkeley’s Labor Center, the American tipping system was used widely to keep freed slaves poor. According to Jayaraman’s research, many white employers resented having to pay former slaves, and tipping was a legal way around providing actual wages. Jayaraman has written a book that further outlines what goes on in American restaurants.

When the tipping system first began to take hold in the United States, it was almost exclusively used for Black people. John Speed, a journalist during this time, wrote, “Negroes take tips of course; one expects that of them — it is a token of their inferiority.” This practice kept Black people poor, and provided white people with cheap labor.

Aaron Ross Coleman, a New York University business and economic reporting Masters student tells Wear Your Voice, “The tipping system as constructed doesn’t benefit customers or employees. Patrons of restaurants regularly have to pay more money than advertised for their food because of gratuity. And waitresses and waiters often engage in performative and sometimes taxing emotional labor just to make a decent wage. And all of this is happening so employers don’t have to pay a living wage. If fast food restaurants and grocery stores can manage to pay the minimum wage, casual restaurants can too.”

Bunkypotatohead said...

Tipping well would be acting white. Can't have that.

Greg Hlatky said...

And all of this is happening so employers don’t have to pay a living wage. If fast food restaurants and grocery stores can manage to pay the minimum wage, casual restaurants can too.

If it's their own money, progressives are the stingiest, least-charitable people around.

Birkel said...

Tips ought to be negotiated in advance of service.
For example:
"I need to be out of here in 40 minutes. If you make that happen, I tip you 25%. If not, you get 10%."

That works, btw.

JMW Turner said...

Being from Atlanta, the last thing on my mind is the race of the restaurant's employees, especially the workers in the back. (kitchen) Fifty years ago, black restaurant employees were often black; why not also the head chef? My daughter has worked as a server in a variety of restaurants over the past decade. Some of the worst tippers are people (no matter what race or class) who feel that they are paying enough for their meal and resent adding an extra charge in the form of a tip. The whole restaurant system is designed for an entire group of employees to not be guaranteed compensation for their efforts, but are paid at the whim of their customers. This is an abusive system that needs to be changed; perhaps a surcharge to cover wait staff and eliminate the tipping conundrum.

tcrosse said...

When tipping, it's a good idea to say a few kind word to the recipient. Something like
"Here, my good man. Go buy a crust of bread for your starving children." They'll appreciate it and you'll feel better for it, and isn't that what it's all about?
's

BUMBLE BEE said...

Add my voice to the B.S. total. I've known many in food service biz, and roomed with a chef for three years. Dated lots of waitresses too. Blacks are high maintenance diners. They often like to play "rabbit run" with waitstaff. Black person sits in your section, you're gonna spend a LOT of time explaining the menu to them with all it's nuance. "Can I get the burger without pickles but hot mustard? Well what about those onion rings are they...". Waitstaff has to clear it's section in a time frame, for management as well as for tips. I actually heard a black woman in a Deli want the complete lowdown on a Reuben sandwich. As seen above Waitstaff are taxed @ 15% flat. Good service = 20%. Canadian surcharge can be a matter of the exchange rate, Today $1.00 Canadian = $.75 U.S. "Associate" profs have problems... "We need a little muscle over here" ring a bell?

JaimeRoberto said...

My wife was a waitress on Stefansplatz in the center of Vienna. According to her the best tippers are Americans because we don't know the rules. The worst are the Dutch, when they are not trying to skip out on the bill altogether.

Birkel said...

The IRS does not impute 15% of gross sales as tips.
Wait staff risks audit if they report less than 8% tips on gross sales.

Everybody reports all credit card tips and cash to get over that 8%.

Big Mike said...

Topping the list of best tippers:

Ha! I match four of the five bullets (Virginia is not a Northeastern state). No wonder wait staff who recognize me (not that many decent restaurants around here so wife and I tend to be regulars) are happy to see me seated at their table.

Michael said...

JMWTurner
My English friends do not believe in tipping, they believe the wait staff is covered by their wage, guaranteed vacations and other (small) benefits. I think they misunderstand what it costs to live in their England.

A professional waiter in a high end steak house in the US makes six figures in tips. No way could the owner eliminate tips and guarantee them that level of income.

Be said...

A few of Mark Bittman's recipes are my gotos now, thanks to the NYT food newsletter. Can sort of do without the political writing, though.


"Gastronomica" and "The Art of Eating" are still good journals, with politics on the side, as opposed to slathered on everything.

As I only worked in a niche field - vegetarian / vegan food in the sweet spot between three major Northeastern universities- , never had occasion to serve many African Americans. The one fellow who comes to mind, and even brought his family in to meet us, tipped insanely well. Had a contingent of trans (M to F, all white) people who tipped very well, too.

About the worst tippers were Subcontinental Indians. They often pulled what commenter BumbleBee above called "rabbit run," nearly always demanding refunds and remakes.


Anecdotal, but maybe interesting.

Michael said...

JMWTurner
BTW, love your paintings. Norham Castle sunrise among my favorites. Keep it up.

Earnest Prole said...

His cookbooks are classics that should outlive him -- hope he owns the rights and not the Times.

walter said...

Michael,
In England, iyt depends on if the service charge is mandatory.
Not sure your bringing high end waiters in US as a comparison makes sense...though it makes a case for becoming one.

Mathair said...

I'm in Australia and tipping isn't expected here, but always welcomed by waiters etc.
What I have noticed as I get older is restaurants and cafes seem to deliberately make older people much less welcome...with noisy surroundings, no sound deadening table linen or carpets, uncomfortable chairs and weird cutlery. It takes a lot longer to be noticed by wait staff when you're old! And worst of all, so many people yelling down their phones and having very loud conversations. I'm usually very glad to leave.

RobinGoodfellow said...

And if YOUR income depended on maximizing tips from "good" customers and avoiding the "bad" ones you would learn quickly that race and race alone is not a good metric.

Well, my mother was never a waitress, but my wife and I both water tables in college (back in the 80s). And while I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data, I’d say the poll results echo my experiences. White businessmen tend to be great tippers. Women and “Canadians”
tend to be lousy tippers.

My daughter waited tables 25 years after I did and she reported that things hadn’t changed.

Sorry.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

johnhenry100 said...Wasn't there a curb your enthusiasm where Wanda Sykes raised hell with Larry because he "fixed a black man's tip"?

I don't remember that one but I do remember--and our Friends-watching hostess can probably confirm--there was an episode of that show where Ross increased the tip Rachel's father left at a fancy restaurant but was caught by said father and made to pay the full bill (with a quote something like "you want to be a big shot, go ahead.")

My only experience with receiving tips and relative tipping success is a bit off from the example in the article. When I was 13 I worked in a grocery store, mostly as a bag boy. The store was/is in a poorer part of town and was rarely busy; our customers were mostly older people, retirees, etc--probably 55-45 white/black, almost all women. I rarely received any tips for carrying and loading groceries and didn't really expect to--once in a while I would get a quarter or some change and I think once I got a dollar bill. My friend, a year or two later, worked as a bagger in a new Publix in a very nice part of two. She is a black woman. She routinely got $3-5 for each trip and was happy to tell me all about it! The neighborhood her store was in was almost all white but I don't know the demographics of her customers other than she said many of them had little kids (in those steering wheel buggies).

Anyway I learned that knowing your market is important for success. I didn't really think about the race/racial aspect of the situation until just now!

RobinGoodfellow said...


Blogger Rick said...

If you're an associate professor of sociology and want to call people racist for believing a "myth" shouldn't you first cite some evidence it isn't true?


I don’t think sociology is a “hard” science.

Big Mike said...

Back in the day I did a lot of business travel, and twice I have had the unpleasant experience of being in a restaurant where a black family was served their dinner, wolfed it down, then loudly harassed the manager claiming that the food was substandard and they shouldn't be have to pay for such terrible food. And I do mean LOUD.

Twice doesn't sound like much, but those two times accounts for 100% of the times I have seen it happen. Note that this happened after the food was wholly eaten. I am not describing someone who ordered a steak medium rare and received one that was cooked well done, nor am I describing undercooked fish nor any other legitimate reason for sending partially eaten food back to the kitchen. I am describing dishes that were totally consumed by the patrons.

I have never seen this behavior by an Asian, Latino, or Caucasian. For that matter I have never seen it outside of the Chicago area. I doubt it generalizes but, for the record, I am never going to open a restaurant anywhere near the Windy City.

Krumhorn said...

I used to like Bittman’s periodic cooking videos. They were short and uncomplicated, and the food was generally good. I still repeat a couple of those recipes.

I didn’t realize at the time that he was such an ass. I’m wondering if his recipes will now taste like ass.

- Krumhorn

RobinGoodfellow said...


It was always told to me that Canadians (of all people) were horrible tippers


You keep using that word “Canadians.” I don’t think it means what you think it means.

tcrosse said...

At a popular but casual restaurant in the touristy lower town of Qu├ębec, there was an insert in the menu. It spelled out in numerous languages The Rules of Tipping, as practiced in French Canada.

Anonymous said...

I'[m surprised no one has mentioned just why the difference in tipping between Americans and everyone else. In the U.S., the minimum wage for wait staff is lower than normal minimum wage, and the difference is expected to be made up in tips. In Canada, the wait staff is making what we here in the U.S. would call full minimum wage, so there is no difference to be made up.

That being said, the expected tip in Canada is 10% while the expected tip in the U.S. is 15-20%.

Michael McNeil said...

“If you're an associate professor of sociology and want to call people racist for believing a ‘myth’ shouldn't you first cite some evidence it isn't true?”

I don’t think sociology is a “hard” science.


Considering the proportion of sociology papers whose findings can't subsequently be confirmed, even citing “evidence” is often highly questionable.

tim in vermont said...

That works, btw.

Telling the server you are in a rush also works. They are nice people.