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Shucks, another tipping thread

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ISO some raw bar etiquette 101

One of the specialties of a favorite local bar/restaurant of mine has freshly shucked raw oysters as one of its specialties - the shucking station is at the bar -

Scenario #1

During the weekly buck a shuck special there is a designated shucker at the station. The "special" lasts all evening - copious amounts of oysters are consumed - the shucker is working pretty much non stop - he is not directly interacting with customers there are bartenders and table servers handling that

Scenario #2

Other times when less busy and less oysters are being consumed per capita there is not a designated shucker. The Bartender generally handles the oysters.

My question

In Scenario #1 do I assume the designated shucker is part of the wait staff or kitchen staff - should I increase tip? tip him directly? or assume he is paid for his work as would be an unseen line cook or whoever may suck oysters if it was done BOH

In Scenario #2 is it necessary/appropriate to increase tip% if a good number of oysters are ordered or is the increase in bill sufficient

I would not think about the oysters being anything but part of the bill if they come from BOH but when it's done barside it seems to be part of the service/presentation - and certainly on special night the shucker is putting out the most effort in the joint. Can I trust if I add another 5-10% to the tip that he is getting broken out?

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  1. Quick go back and edit, you have 2 Scenario 1's and one Scenario 2 and no Scenario 3. lol

    Unless he is at a raw bar and you are sitting at a designated raw bar, with a tip jar, I wouldn't feel any obligation to tip "extra".

    Notice I said "obligation" if you think the guy is working hard for his base pay (most likely above server minimum wage) then sure throw him a couple bucks, no harm no foul.

    I'm generally a pretty generous tippers to my bar-staff so if the bartender is doing it himself, I'm sure my normal tip will cover the extra effort on his behalf.

    1 Reply
    1. I don't think it would hurt to simply ask how the tips work. If it is a local restaurant that you frequent often, maybe try to snag a seat at the bar close to the shucking station and say something to the bartender about how you find it quite impressive how the shucker is able to keep up with the volume of oysters being ordered. Then follow up with a comment about how you would like to show your appreciation and ask what is the best way to make sure he gets the extra cash you want to send his way. It might be best to find out if you can tip them directly.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pollymerase

        that makes sense - mostly I just wonder if the break him out on the tips - then upping the tips makes sense - this bar is a go to spot for me but I am not a "regular" the staff has been very consistent here and they are clearly working together well so maybe they do - I should just ask next time. I just don't want to be seen as cheap with a bar where the service is excellent and also want to make sure that, because the oysters are what brought me in the door, the appreciation is directed correctly. Because it's a neighborhood spot as with most of them around here the owners/servers/chefs etc are generally neighbors/friends etc. it's more than likely that I will run into them in other contexts.

        1. re: JTPhilly

          if oysters are normally hovering around $2.50-$4.00 i'd tip extra on buck-a-shuck nights anyway. :)