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Oct 4, 2006 12:28 AM

Bartender etiquette

I don't want to overreact to this situation but I found it a bit puzzling and I'm looking for other perspectives. I was at one of the newer, swankier Italian restaurants in town recently and ordered two $8 glasses of prosseco and paid with a $20. The bartender put my change, some bills and some coins, down on the bar right in front of him, far out of my reach. First odd thing: where are the coins coming from? Am I forgetting about tax? Now, this is a very deep bar where people regularly eat full meals, plus it was crowded, so I felt uncomfortable reaching through two parties who were eating and talking to get my change. I decided to wait a few minutes to see if there was a better time to snag the change and (obviously) leave the tip. Five minutes later, the money was gone and I cannot help but feel this was very rude and presumptuous of the bartender, and I feel somewhat taken advantage of. It is the principal of the thing, and I almost feel that there is a dishonest element to it. Am I being overly sensitive here? Outside opinions please.

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  1. Not sure about the tax (don't think so, however). But 5 minutes seems like more than enough time for you to have excused yourself to those people sitting/eating at the bar and gotten your change and left the tip you wanted.

    Those who are sitting/eating at the bar should expect other patrons are probably going to be looking to get drinks and/or change if they're eating and the bar is serving drinks to those standing behind them. This happens frequently at a Dali, and I usually pass the drinks and change back to the person to make it easier for them. Not everyone does this, however, so you should certainly have asked if you could get the change or ask them to pass it over to you. JMO.

    1. It sounds to me like a ruse designed to allow the bartender to keep your change. I would complain to the management about this.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TheScribe

        Sounds like a ruse to me! Maybe the drinks prices were listed pre-tax, or there's a service charge already included? I once remember a drink costing me $9.16, which was an odd amount!


        1. re: TexasToast

          I don't think this was a 'ruse'. Trust me, bartenders do not want your change, nobody wants to count change at the end of a shift.

          The bartender should have left the money within your reach, his error. You should have asked for your money, you didn't, our error.

      2. Yes, the bartender should have put YOUR change within easy reach of YOU!! If not he was either lazy or was hoping YOU were.

        1. Yes, it would seem that your change should be placed in front of you, and not in front of someone else. But to belabor my ever-present point, it's the problem of tipping that leads to this kind of misbehavior (the misbehavior being, presumably, that the bartender was assuming that you would leave a tip, and making it easy for himself to decide how much by putting your change out of your reach). I don't remember this happening in Australia.

          1. Two questions -

            1 - Probably a tax thing but that's really not the issue here, 2 - it's the presumption of the waiter, his ruse or his laziness.

            My DW and I looked at each other and had the same answer so it's KISS.

            The next time the waiter comes over or you can ask him to come over, ask him when he thinks he will have time to bring your change. If he says he did and left it at the bar, feign ignorance and tell him you did not see it because it was so far away. When he brings the second round of change thank him very much, take the change, put it into ur pocket and out the door.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jfood

              Not a good sign when you reply to yourself, but after reading a few replies, I think I misunderstood the question. I thought you were sitting at the bar and the tender put the change out of your reach in front of someone else. That's the KISS response above.

              Different question though, in that you are standing at a crowded bar.

              Probably the same answer. Let's assume you paid with a credit card. He would sure as shooting get you the slip to sign so you can add the tip. His placing the change on the bar when it obviously busy, you can cut a little slack, but not much. The check is not closed until it's signed, sealed and delivered.

              Still sounds like a ruse to me but I can understand that this is in the gray area.