I am a middle aged American woman and I took my daughter off for a short vacation during her college break. On recommendation, one night we went to a live dinner performance that was themed around the medieval period. We ate at tables surrounding an arena where “knights” jousted and engaged in sword fights, complete with horses, dramatic music and lighting. The performance was engaging if a little cheesy and I’m glad we went.
The dinner was pre-determined: we chose a (soft) beverage but everything else was a set menu of soup, roast chicken, some sides and dessert with coffee. The beverages and food were doled out from common pitchers and pans by “serving wenches” (gotta stay with the theme, I guess). The food was basic but pretty good. There wasn’t any real individual attention from the wenches, other than to ask if we wanted refills of beverages or coffee at appointed times.
The etiquette situation arose at the end. At the start of the dinner the “serving wench” went through some announcements about what wasn’t included in the tickets, which included gratuity. Since the “wench” was much more along the lines of a food runner than a waitress, I had thought that she was an employee in the same category as any other employee. OK, I didn’t mind slipping her a little money. I was a little shocked at the end of dinner when everyone was given a tray with the explanation that tips were customary along with suggested tipping rates. Apparently I was expected to tip 15-20% of the ticket price (about $110 for two tickets, although I got a slight seasonal discount). In other words, I would have tipped the same for a nice dinner that cost $110 in which the waiter provided individual, attentive service as I did for someone whose job was to dole out pre-selected food from a communal container. (The food was fine but definitely not worth $110 on its own). In addition, there was no real way to leave a tip other than cash as far as I could tell. I doubt that all of the people at such a performance had the kind of cash that they were expected to leave, at least comfortably. It was really an uncomfortable situation for a few moments to be essentially told “OK, you laid out $100 but you need to leave another $20”. (I ended up leaving $10 on the grounds that I would have tipped about that much for a comparable restaurant dinner. Plus, it was almost all the cash I had).
So: what is the etiquette situation here? Should a person expect to tip that much under the circumstance? Or was the facility presumptuous? I would much rather have paid a little more up front with the understanding that the gratuity was covered. (We still had a good time, but the tipping situation bugged me a little).
(FWIW the website probably mentioned somewhere that gratuity wasn’t covered, but I still wouldn’t have thought I was supposed to tip on the basis of the full ticket price, since the cost was largely to cover the performance rather than the food as I understood it). 1021-16
It’s been my experience that you tip on the total bill, not what you consider to be the actual cost of the food because it is nigh on impossible to speculate as to what the actual costs would be. I’m surprised the venue has not commenced with gratuity already added to the bill to avoid this.