A single bartender may serve more than 100 drinks on a weekend night, but that doesn’t always translate into dollar signs.
Some bartenders have reported seeing little payoff for a shift due to the tipping habits of many bar-goers.
“People need to learn how to tip,” Tim Hogan, bartender at The Wood’s Food and Spirits and Woody’s One Up Bar, said. “The problem isn’t the tipping so much as it is knowing how much to. Almost everyone tips something, but sometimes people will have $50 tabs and will only tip a few dollars.”
Blair Donahue, who works the beer tub at The Wood’s, said she thinks part of the problem with tipping is people are buying drinks individually with cash.
“I think part of it is if someone pays for each drink in cash then they’re only spending a few dollars at a time,” she said. “While it obviously seems weird to tip a dollar for a beer, that’s $2.50. Those add up.”
While bartenders do get paid more than servers, they still earn below minimum wage, making approximately $3.50 an hour.
“Our entire income is based off tips,” Hogan said. “So, if I’m working and no one comes in or something, I would have been there for hours and only made $12 or $13.”
Working on the weekends compared to during the week can make a difference also in the amount of money a bartender gets.
“I would say it’s different during the week and on the weekends,” Lindy Demmarest, a server and bartender at Mac and Joe’s, said.
Donahue said she knows bartenders who work during the week have a harder time making tips.
“The weeknights can be pretty rough,” Donahue said. “I don’t usually work earlier in the week, but I know it can get really slow. The only reason I even got $35 the last time I worked was because I got one or two larger tips.”
Demmarest agreed tips are better on the weekends.
“When I bartended on a Thursday, I made, like, $50,” she said. “On the weekends, it’s obviously a lot more.”
Bartenders usually rely on the weekends to make up for slow weeknight shifts.
While weekend tips will vary from bar to bar, Demmarest said she would consider the average to be $100 or more a night.