St. Louis city and county bars and restaurants are open for business again, starting Monday.
There will be restrictions — bars in the county will remain closed unless they also serve food, for example, and restaurants and bars that are allowed to reopen will be limited to 25 percent of their normal capacity.
In the city, meanwhile, bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen as long as they follow social distancing guidelines, which will include spacing dining room tables six feet apart.
Those restrictions, while important for helping control the spread of COVID-19, are going to result in less of everything that the bar and restaurant industries are used to — less business, less customers, less profit and, crucially, less tips.
All this is to say: If you're planning on hitting a bar or restaurant on Monday (seems crazy during an ongoing pandemic, but whatever) you better also be planning to tip like your money is on fire.
Many of the servers and bartenders that are going back to work are doing so because they have no choice in the matter — essentially, they are hostages here. The end of lockdown means they're kicked off of unemployment if their job invites them back and they decline. Fear of catching a life-threatening disease isn't considered a good reason to stay out of work, so say the powers that be
, so essentially, service people are being forced to choose between potentially getting sick and potentially starving.
To add insult to that injury, the amount of money they get in tips will be down dramatically due to those restrictions on occupancy and social distancing measures that will result in less tables per server, less customers per bartender. Servers and bartenders usually make $5 or less per hour before tips. So now, not only must they work in potentially life-threatening conditions, they're going to have to do so for less money.
If you're a decent person, you've already been tipping like crazy for the many deliveries you've had brought to you while you've stayed safe in your house during the pandemic. And while you should definitely keep that up, you should realize that the servers and bartenders have to deal with the same safety issues that come with working during the coronavirus crisis, but without the uptick in demand delivery drivers have seen — in fact, just the opposite.
In other words, tip hard. 100 percent is a great tip, in this situation. Plus it's so easy to do the math on it! Take the total on your check and double it, then walk away knowing you did the right thing.
If you're sincere in your stated goal to support the businesses in your local community now that the city is opening back up, you need to remember that it's not just the ownership that needs your support to stay afloat — the people serving you your food and drinks do, too.
Show them you appreciate their efforts. Dump out your whole wallet. And if you can't afford to do so, maybe just stay home.
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