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Oxford bartenders speak on tipping culture in a college town

The volume of people at a larger place like Brick Street also affects how the bartenders there are tipped and even how they are treated.
The volume of people at a larger place like Brick Street also affects how the bartenders there are tipped and even how they are treated.

Many customers have an opinion about when, where and how much to tip. For some people, tipping their bartender is a common courtesy even if they don’t leave much. For others, the decision to leave a tip and the amount depends on the bartender’s quality of service.

In Ohio, the minimum wage for a bartender is $5.05 an hour. For a part-time employee working 20 hours a week, that’s a little more than $100 per week before tax. 

Due to the nature of the job, bartenders like Benji Golubitsky depend on the generosity of customers to make a living. 

Golubitsky is a senior finance major at Miami University who has been working at Corner Bar & Grill for two years. Despite relying heavily on tips for an income, he said he doesn’t let how people tip affect how he serves them later.

“I mean, there’s been times I don’t have any money in my bank account, and I don’t tip well,” Golubitsky said. “I don’t know where the person is coming from. So I never like to change how I’m going to act towards the person.”

However, not every bartender has the same philosophy. Max Steinmetz, a senior marketing major and former Skipper’s bartender, said serving was an “exhausting” experience. He said after a long night of making drinks, a generous tip made all the difference.

“They’re obviously respecting my time with how they’re rewarding me,” Steinmetz said. “So I’m going to respect their time and mine and serve them first.”

Steinmetz also said that he occasionally gave those “priority” customers a little extra alcohol in their drinks.

According to Will Payton, a senior botany major and bartender, a heavy pour isn’t something bartenders at the popular spot do. So, the amount a customer tips won’t change the amount of alcohol in their drink.

“It doesn’t affect whether or not we pour them more or less,” Payton said. “But it definitely gives a certain priority. If I see someone, I made a mental note of tipping really well … I’m 10 out of 10 times serving that person first.”

Out of the hundreds of people they serve, Golubitsky and Steinmetz said most of their customers are Miami students, but of the few locals that frequent the bars, they are much less likely to leave a tip. 

“Locals do not tip,” Golubitsky said. “They don’t tip.”

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Payton said that even though he does see students tipping more consistently, he noted that how someone tips really just depends on the person.

The volume of people at larger bars also affects how the bartenders there are tipped and even how they are treated. Payton said some customers will leave notes on the receipts. Sometimes, he said, the messages are positive but other times they are not. 

“There was a handful of people in one night that had called [a bartender] a c*nt and a b*tch,” Payton said. “I mean, people will write all over the receipt, just horrible things.”

Although the job can be tiring, the people disrespectful and the money unreliable, all three bartenders said they’d rather continue making the minimum wage for tipped employees. 

“I think that it all makes up for itself,” Steinmetz said. “Even though you might make $20 on a really bummy Monday night, a night that you walk home with $300 or $400 on a Friday, that is great.”