Tipping (or gratuities) is a subject that is generally non controversial in most of our establishments in Forest Park and the surrounding municipalities, but that is not necessarily the case elsewhere in the Chicagoland area, and even around the world. The custom that we take for granted here, varies quite a bit depending on where you are and where you are from.
Locally, the established custom is usually a dollar a drink, though that is not always the rule 100% of the time. In my experience working behind the bar at Jim’s Pour Decision (the former Zambonie’s), most of the patrons are very generous, and that seems to be the case at most of the other places on Madison and elsewhere in the village. However, at venues where I have worked in the downtown area, the bartender is not guaranteed anything from the customer. A fair number of these guests are from countries where tipping is not an expected custom. Many European countries simply add service charges to the bill, similar to the practice of many restaurants in this country, which add 18% or more to the bill for parties of 6 or more. Other nations around the world simply don’t honor the practice, so visitors from those countries would be unfamiliar with the act of leaving a gratuity. Personally, I have run into that many times. It’s hard to be upset with a customer for not doing something, when they don’t even know that is what they are supposed to do. Additionally, I have also encountered a number of Americans who are against the custom. Their feeling is they have paid the posted price for the meal (or drink), and why do they need to pay any more than that?
For the server, the tips are a supplement to the hourly wage that the employer pays, which is usually lower than scale. The employer anticipates that the employee will receive gratuities, which make the job worth having. There are a few schools of thought on the fairness of such a system, and I’ll leave it to you to make your own judgment on whether this all makes sense. However, if you are not leaving a tip because of a service issue, then you really should speak to the manager. Even if your experience was less than ideal, it helps the next person who comes in, and it may be a teaching moment for the server.
Until next, time, cheers!