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High-End Manhattan Bars Institute Mandatory Tipping

Restaurant Expert Blames 18% Spike On European Tourists
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Beer (credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Next time you raise a glass at a Manhattan bar you may be getting more than you expected — and not in a good way.

How about mandatory gratuities for drinks at champagne rates!

CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport has more on this “tip tiff.”

Well, some high-end Manhattan bars are now charging mandatory gratuities of 18 percent on drinks.

What do New Yorkers think of this? Try very little.

“I wouldn’t buy the drink,” one person said.

“Then I’ll drink somewhere else,” another person said.

Among the 18 percent crew is the Ace Hotel lobby bar in Midtown and the Church Bar at TriBeCa Grand Hotel, where an employee told Rapoport a $28 premium double vodka would carry with it an extra $5.04 tip.

“I definitely don’t agree with that,” one New Yorker said.

Restaurant Kenneth McClure of Hospitality Holdings, which charges 18 percent on drinks for parties of six or more, said the move is in response to an influx of European clientele who as a rule are not accustomed to tipping.

“It is. You know they claim they don’t know about tipping and some of them don’t want to tip. That’s why sometimes we put on these gratuities,” McClure said.

Still, the drink up, pay up plan is leaving some bar goers with sticker shock.

“I don’t agree with that. They can’t. I think the tip is all about service,” one person said.

And bartender Tatanna Khominich of Pound and Pence said she’s actually glad her bar doesn’t have mandatory tipping, even though it would mean more money for her.

“You know, I like to earn my tips, to build a relationship with my customers,” Khominich said.

So here’s a tip: the next time you belly up to the bar … check the bill.

Some restaurant and bar owners Rapoport spoke to say the bottom line is tipping is discretionary, especially if you don’t receive good service.

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