Tag Archives: food

Off-Campus food options

By: Regina Deveary

 We have all hit the point in school when Subway, Wendy’s, and Einstein’s are just unappetizing.  While there are many options available on campus to eat, it may become tiresome or annoying choosing the same places over and over again. This is when we choose to venture off campus and find other options available to us.  Just a short walk from campus reveals a myriad of new food options,

 One great restaurant within walking distance from campus is Mt. Fuji.  Mt. Fuji is a Japanese cuisine restaurant located under Cardinal Towne Apartments.  They serve sushi, vegetable and chicken hibachi, and salads.  The prices are perfect for a college budget, too.  Usually all meals remain under ten dollars. They also have a variety of bubble teas to choose from, including, but not limited to, banana, peach, thai, and mango. Mt Fuji also provides many vegetarian options.  Before the business changed their name to Mt. Fuji they were known as Green Leaf. Green Leaf was strictly vegetarian options.  They have now evolved into Mt. Fuji, where their menu now includes everything from vegan options to steak.
If you’re in the mood for Chinese instead, there is the China Inn. China Inn is located across the street from Mt. Fuji at Cardinal Center.  China Inn’s menu includes many options such as soups, chicken, pork, beef, and vegetable dishes.  They also offer a selection of Thai cuisine, such as pad thai, pad se iew, pad ke mao, etc.  Like Mt. Fuji, China Inn offers a variety of meat and vegetarian options. Some examples are tofu dishes, veggie dishes, and spring rolls.
If Asian food isn’t your taste, there are other food options available around campus. Mexican food is another option just next door to China Inn. Bazo’s is a Mexican restaurant located in the Cardinal Center. They offer Mexican cuisine such as quesadillas, burritos, salads, nachos, etc. At Bazo’s, they pride themselves in “having fresh authentic Mexican cuisine made-to-order”.  As well as vegetarian options, Bazo’s also offers gluten free choices. Some options are quesadillas, nachos, taquitos, and Mexican pizza.
 If Bazo’s hasn’t sold you on fresh Mexican cuisine, you can always try Senor Iguanas.  Senor Iguanas is located next to Cardinal Stadium in the Cardinal station shopping center.  They offer several options with bold, south of the border, taste and authentic quality. This location also offers a bar for everyone 21 and over.  You can come in and order your meal along with a beer or margarita to drink off those post-test sorrows. Senor Iguanas also offers vegetarian options as well, such as burritos, chimichangas, and fajitas.
 Just across the street from Senor Iguanas is Quiznos. Quiznos is a sub shop located in Cardinal station shopping center.  Quiznos offers many menu items for all the tastes you can imagine. Subs ranging from Peppercorn Prime Rib to Guacamole Veggie; there is one you are bound to like.  If subs aren’t your thing, they also have soups and salads available on their menu.
Another off-campus place to eat is Home Run Burgers. Home Run Burgers has been named the best burger in Louisville from 2009-2012.  Their burgers are one hundred percent Black Angus beef, are never frozen, and have no fillers.  So, if you are looking for a good burger near campus, I would say walk over to Cardinal Towne and try one today. For all the non-meat eaters, they offer a veggie burger available with all the toppings you can imagine. Each burger comes with the option of a variety of cheeses and a selection of over 26 free toppings.  Besides burgers, Home Run also has a fish sandwich, all beef hot dogs, chicken strips, chicken salads, and a BLT.  Along with your burger you can choose from a variety of side items.  Items such as, fries, available  as either regular or Cajun, chili cheese fries, bacon cheese fries, cheese fries, onion rings, cole slaw, or a side salad. With so many choices it will be hard to pick a favorite.
 If specialty burgers don’t make your mouth water, what about fast fresh made sandwiches from Jimmy John’s? Jimmy John’s is one of the fastest sandwich shops around.  They create your sandwich within minutes on fresh homemade bread daily, and offer fresh ingredients to satisfy your hunger.  Jimmy John’s also is known for fair pricing. The average sandwich is around five through six dollars.  The idea is simple and satisfying.  Make a gourmet sandwich without the gourmet price. Jimmy John’s delivers, too. This is one of the greatest options available for college students. Even though Jimmy John’s is conveniently located under Cardinal Towne, you can simply call, place your order, and receive your food anywhere around campus in a matter of ten to fifteen minutes, tops.
Where can you find good Cajun food near campus? J Gumbos is the place you are looking for.  Gumbo and Jumbalaya are a specialty at J Gumbos. Whether you are looking for something spicy or hot, the menu has you covered. As J Gumbo’s says, “We put our soul in the bowl.” Needless to say the food is delicious and has many options to choose from.  Whether you want hot or spicy, mild, vegetarian, or gluten free, J Gumbos has it all.  J Gumbos is located in Cardinal Center next to Gray’s Bookstore.  J Gumbos also has a bar available for students 21 and up.
If you are looking for a family owned café, Ermin’s is the place for you. Located on 1st and Oak in Old Louisville. It is only about a ten minute walk from campus. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they don’t believe in preservatives or processed products. They prepare meals fresh every day to guarantee a great experience. Their menu consists of many different options, such as salads, wraps, sandwiches, lasagna, burritos, etc. With so many options, you are sure to find something to your liking. Ermin’s is also known for their handcrafted cakes.
Prince Hookah is another off campus option.  Prince Hookah is located on 4th and Hill, just a short five-minute walk from campus.  The food ranges from options such as, chicken strips and burgers, to gyros and falafel, as well as a variety of drinks from soda to smoothies to make your night special.  Along with dinner you can order a hookah, which is flavored tobacco, from many flavors. Some examples are apple martini, caramel Frappuccino, bubble gum, guava breeze, and many more.  Prince hookah is a great place to come with friends for a fun night. Live music and Dj’s usually take the stage to set the mood for the entertainment.
So, next time you want to eat something different from the everyday campus menu, take a short walk to one of these great restaurants.
In order to achieve a healthy body, proper nutrition and exercise are in order.

Being thin doesn’t equate to being healthy

By Dakota Neff–

In order to achieve a healthy body, proper nutrition and exercise are in order.

Everyone wants a great body, right? You have to impress that really, really attractive person in your anthropology class. Can’t do that with that little bit of extra flab over your abs. You can feel the muscles underneath, and you have to find some way to get that six-pack you’ve always dreamt about. I will tell you one thing: starving yourself is not the key to your goals. Having an attractive body does not make you healthy. Thin and/or muscular is not always good.

I was a fat kid. That really is the most simple way of stating it. I was overweight, unhealthy, and usually sedentary. I would spend my nights parked on the couch, watching Cartoon Network with a bag of Lay’s and a plate of fried chicken in front of me. I grew up eating this way; it was all I knew. A typical dinner plate would consist of a fried meat, a starchy vegetable, some type of white bread, and maybe a soda to wash it all down. My mom cooked like Paula Deen: butter it, fry it, salt it, then butter it some more.

Then middle school happened. I moved to a new school, and suddenly I would hear whispers behind my back, “Look at tubby over there. I can see the fat roll exploding from his gym shorts.”

This was obviously hurtful. It was something I would not take. I had to be thin, to look like the guys on MTV; maybe some muscles, and a tan. I began to stop eating altogether. When I would sneak that cheesecake from the refrigerator, I would swiftly and secretly head to the bathroom and purge my indulgences straight down the toilet.

Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia will destroy your body in the long run, trust me. Short term weight loss is not worth the havoc these disorders can wreak on the human body: permanent brain damage, malnutrition, ashy skin, brittle nails, dry hair, muscle and bone degeneration, throat cancer, severe depression, just to name a few. This exemplifies my point that thin and healthy are not one in the same.
In order to achieve a healthy body, proper nutrition and exercise are in order. I’d like to ask you to make a promise to yourself that you will sweat at least once today after reading this. Exercise does not always mean pumping iron and running 10 monotonous miles on a treadmill. Physical activity can be fun. Ride your bike to the riverfront, take a walk around campus, shoot a basketball in the SAC. Just get your body moving; it was built to move.

Now let’s talk nutrition. Eating less will help you lose weight, but it does not guarantee good health. It is not only how much you consume, but what you consume.

I’d like to share a quote from the absolutely incredible documentary “Hungry For Change:” “The problem is we are not eating food anymore, we are eating food-like products.”

This is the most relevant quote to the American health epidemic I’ve ever seen. Corporations are selling us chemical-infused, genetically modified foods. It’s no wonder our obesity rates and healthcare costs are through the roof. Marketing campaigns have twisted the meaning of thin, healthy, and diet. Drinking a Slim-Fast and popping a Hydroxycut is not a way to achieve good health.

No matter how many hours you log on the treadmill, you will not be able to outrun the negative effects of that preservative-laden McDonald’s burger or those poison-laced Mountain Dews.

The food industry is feeding us death on a fork, all in the name of the almighty dollar. All is not lost though, you can stand up and make responsible choices in terms of your diet. Buy a blender, throw some fruits and vegetables in there and drink up! Eat responsibly by choosing more natural, whole and organic foods. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy it.

You may think eating healthier is too expensive. You’ll just eat for cheap until you graduate and until you have a better job. Well let me inform you of something: the food you eat is more important than the clothes you put on your back, the fancy electronic device in your pocket, or the car you drive. Healthy food is not always going to be cheap, but neither is cancer.

This generation must stand up and fight the corporate abuse of our available nutrition. A parent that does not look after and nurture a child is to be shamed; so if we do not stand up and fight for the health of our people and future, we too should be shamed.

A healthy life is the result of a balanced diet and proper exercise. I can only hope that I have in some way inspired you to re-evaluate your body and the things you put in it. Remember, the goal is good health, not physical attractiveness.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/epSos.de

The annual Dishcrawl will blindly lead food lovers as they enjoy some of the best meals of the "Foodie City".

Annual Dishcrawl event gives Louisvillians, visitors another reason to be proud of the “Foodie City”

By Anna Meany–

The annual Dishcrawl blindly leads Louisvillians as they enjoy some of the best meals in the “Foodie City”.

“Love food? Love life?” asks the banner on Dishcrawl’s homepage. Why, yes. Louisvillians love food – we’ve got tons of unique restaurants at our fingertips in the Possibility city. Do we love life? Is that even a question in this town?

The event brings food-lovers, restaurant-gurus, winos and beer snobs together for one big party in NuLu.

Dishcrawl comes to Louisville at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16 and encores the following night.

The Cardinal sat down with Tracy Lee, Founder and CEO of Dishcrawl.

What is Dishcrawl? Think pub-crawl. Except without all the stumbling and regret. Food enthusiasts pay one price to enjoy four locally-owned restaurants in the heart of Louisville’s newest neighborhood (so eat lightly!). Lee calls Dishcrawl a culmination of her talents and passion for great food.

Her main offices are in San Jose, CA – miles and miles from our river city. Lee knows how to give a nation-wide company hometown roots, though. She employs ambassadors from each city (Dishcrawl entertains in over 120 cities now) who choose the absolute best restaurants to visit. Tracy has the upmost confidence in Allison Taylor, Louisville’s go-to Dishcrawl ambassador.

Lee says she loves that Dishcrawl provides an “outlet for food lovers to embrace their food-loving selves” and simultaneously sparks the local economy, adding that the event’s success comes from the amount of food traffic it brings to little-known eateries.

So, what’s the catch?

The list of restaurants is nowhere to be found.

That’s right. Dishcrawl won’t tell ticket-holders where they’re dining until two days ahead of time. For food-lovers, including Lee, this list is as sacred as the Holy Grail. Part of the Dishcrawl experience is diving into Louisville’s culture blindly – even if you’ve been here for a while. The folks at Dishcrawl are serious about making this a night to remember.

Vegetarian? They’ve got that covered. Lee says Dishcrawl is sure to “satisfy anyone’s mouth”. Meatless options are available at every restaurant.

And what an appropriate time to talk food – it’s Derby Season! On May 1, Derby Crawl will give foodies another reason to call the first week of May the “least productive work week in Louisville”. This event features food in and around 4th Street Live! and several Derby-specific dishes.

With an already established network of acclaimed restaurants and breweries, Louisville is the perfect city to host an event like this. Lee says Dishcrawl is “focused on re-imagining the way people think about food” – that means getting patrons out of their comfort zone, out on the town, and into the bars and booths of Louisville’s finest.

Visit dishcrawl.com/louisville for tickets and more info.

Photo courtesy of yellowscene.com

Instead of picking up a soft drink for your next meal, look out for other, more healthy, alternatives.

Killer on campus: soft drinks run rampant

By Dakota Neff–

Instead of picking up a soft drink for your next meal, look out for other, more healthy, alternatives.

Soda, coke, pop, cola: no matter how you refer to the ubiquitous soft drink, you should know that it isn’t the harmless all-American treat that clever marketing campaigns would have you believe. One specific campaign is taking place right here at the University of Louisville. You will find Pepsi brand soft drinks for sale in every dining area, and Pepsi dispensing machines in nearly every building on campus. This is not okay.

I understand that the university needs corporate sponsors; but that doesn’t make it alright for them to be promoting something that is in every way detrimental to human health. In my opinion, the overconsumption of sweetened soft drinks is an epidemic.  The United States consumes massive amounts of soda, and word on the street is we’re the most overweight and unhealthy country in the world. Is there a correlation here? I believe so.

Logically, how can the university justify selling and promoting sugary chemical water and maintain the idea that student health is paramount? Soda has been directly linked to bone degeneration, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer, among numerous other serious health problems. You are what you eat. When you put unnatural chemicals in your body, you will pay the price. Is your health and well being worth a bubbly, sweet beverage?

You may think I’m over-exaggerating the negative effects of soft drinks; however this is exactly what brands like Pepsi want you to believe. They want to sell a product, nothing more. I assure you, they do not care if you die of cancer or an obesity-related stroke because of their product. I’d hate to accuse the university of the same blatant negligence. If the FDA wasn’t influenced by corporate interests, soda would not even be available as the casual, refreshing beverage we see for sale all across campus.

I urge you to make intelligent choices when you consume things; the university obviously isn’t going to make those decisions for you. Next time you’re on campus and need some hydration, grab some fruit juice, or better yet, water.

So in the name of student health and well being, I ask the University of Louisville to reconsider its corporate sponsorship with Pepsi Cola.

Photo by Dakota Neff/The Louisville Cardinal


Campus grub: Fine dining for residents

By Esther Lee–

Damon’s Grill can be the alternative to the fast meal on campus.

It’s the end of the semester, and you still have too many meal points on your Cardinal Card. You are sick of Wendy’s, Subway and Papa John’s. You have also exhausted out of the options of Chinese food and at Chick-fil-A. And McAlister’s seems just too far. What else is there? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Damon’s Grill!

Damon’s can be found on the second floor of the Student Activities Center. With its big sign, it’s pretty hard to miss. Once you enter, you’re greeted by the view of the entire restaurant. Compared to the other food options and dining services on campus, Damon’s is one of those few places that separate itself from the rest of the campus.

The atmosphere is very laid back. There are plenty of TVs to support the Louisville Cardinals, and a bar counter for those who prefer sitting on high seats. For the quieter and more relaxed alternative to the busy and loud SAC multipurpose room, Damon’s is the way to go. It is a great place to head to when you have more than just 30 minutes to grab a lunch and go. When you have a friend who needs to be caught up with, Damon’s provides the welcoming vibe that doesn’t rush you out the door.

The food at Damon’s meets expectations. There’s nothing particularly special about the food, but it doesn’t disappoint very often either. The menu uses puns such as “Starting Line Up” for the appetizers which include Sliders and Spinach Artichoke Dip. “Overtime” for desserts which include red velvet and carrot cake, and “On the Side Line” for, like the name implies, side dishes, such as fries and mashed potatoes.

When I go to Damon’s, I usually get the turkey burger with fries, but I ventured into the chicken tenders for once. Both main dishes did not let me down and were a filling and hearty lunch. The items are slightly more expensive than the counterpart fast food chains downstairs, ranging from roughly $7 to $11 per dish. But for the price you pay, you get a decent amount. And with all those extra meal points that on-campus students have, why not indulge in something that’s slightly pricey? All in all, there are plenty of options that anyone could enjoy.

The staff are friendly, and the service is good. The entire restaurant is well kept. Also, throughout the year, Damon’s holds special dinner events, such as their Valentine’s Day Love Birds Dinner. Damon’s transformed itself into a fine dining restaurant.

So next time you want to sit down and slowly enjoy a meal, keep Damon’s Grill in the back of your mind. Although it’s not a life-changing experience, it is definitely worth checking out.

Photo by Val Servino/The Louisville Cardinal


Adventures in being vegetarian

By Simon Isham–

When people ask me why I am a vegetarian, I tell them that it is because I do not like the taste of meat. You might be surprised at the limited number of reactions that I receive in response. Many people are not sure what vegetarians eat. Let me clear the air by enumerating the things that vegetarians do not eat: meat. That is all. Simple enough, right?

There are a few other categories of which you should be aware. Vegetarians who drink milk are called lacto vegetarians. Vegetarians who eat eggs are called ovo vegetarians. Vegetarians who eat both are called lacto-ovo vegetarians. Vegetarians who eat neither are called vegans. People who eat fish but no other type of meat are called pescetarians. People who tell you that vegetarians eat fish are called stupid.

One thing that people like to do is tell me that they, themselves have at some point tried vegetarianism. The statement usually goes: “I was a vegetarian once for three weeks!” As an eleven-year veteran of the practice, I am not impressed. Nearly everyone has given up meat for some length of time just to try it. Katy Perry tried kissing a girl. That doesn’t make her a lesbian.

Then there are the other types of would-be, experimental vegetarians: those who do it, as journalist Colman McCarthy put it, “between meals.” This is the type who like the sound of the hype and the alleged health benefits, but who cannot bring themselves to go one meal — breakfast, lunch or dinner — without the stringy muscle protein. In terms of conversational partners, I much prefer these hardcore meat enthusiasts to the quitters.

Another common response I get is that of the ever-curious amateur biologist.

“What would happen if you ate a piece of meat?” they ask.

I stare at them incredulously.

“If someone dared you to eat dirt, you could, couldn’t you?” I retort, shamelessly swiping the only good line in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight.”

They stare blankly back at me.

“Oh all right,” I concede, and fork a piece of their chicken parmigiana from their plate into my mouth. Once I’ve swallowed, something to the effect of the following is usually said.

“Ohhhh! You’re not a vegetarian anymore!” They say this as if I were just publicly deflowered and they are reveling in it. I do not understand why this brings them pleasure, but I am happy to have made them happy and am somewhat disappointed at how little effort it took.

Of course, I usually regret this decision later. After eating meat, especially if it was fried, I am often physically ill for hours afterwards. There is no scientific basis for why that happens, but I can promise that it does. The Humane Society of the United States’ director for public health, Michael Greger, believes that this reaction is psychosomatic–in other words: “What’s really happening is they’re thinking of some poor animal somewhere, and this may actually cause them to throw up.” I’m sorry, Mr. Greger, but you are wrong.

You see, Greger is a lumper: a person who likes to believe that all people who behave a certain way must also look, dress and believe in the same fashion as all other people who behave that way. We’re talking about free love-dispensing hippie people. The kind who wear socks with Birkenstocks. The kind who grow huge beards, play Joni Mitchell songs badly on the sitar, shower less frequently than most people and live on communes on the West Coast. While there is nothing wrong with this lifestyle, I don’t fit that model. Most days, I don’t remember if I ate at all. Like most Americans, I do not dwell on former meals, nor on what had to die to make them possible.

One of the newest additions to the proud omnivore’s arsenal has been the idea of using bacon as an argument. I am unsure of how to respond to this, especially since I have never once tried to make my personal dietary preferences into an argument. Not to mention the fact that, no matter whether topping off a doughnut at Nord’s Bakery, stuffing tomatoes at the Kentucky Derby or being a key component in bacon-brittle ice cream at the Louisville Visual Art Association’s annual Bacon Ball, “bacon” as a rationalization just won’t hold up in court.

For all intents and purposes, coming out vegetarian is hard.



In the news: what you missed while you were in class

Burger King dumps tainted supplier

Following rumors about horse meat mixed in with Burger King’s beef, the chain launched an investigation of its supplier, Europe-based Silvercrest Foods. Thursday Burger King announced they were dropping the supplier after finding traces of horse meat in the beef patties of a Silvercrest facility. The chain says that the beef was never sold in stores, and that all Silvercrest beef products will be replaced with beef from other suppliers.


Suicide bomber attacks American embassy in Turkey

In Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, a suicide bomber approached the visitor’s gate of the American embassy and detonated explosives in his vest. The Friday afternoon blast killed a Turkish security guard and the bomber, while also blowing a hole in the wall of the embassy. Turkish authorities blamed the attack on a local militant group of leftists, but as of publication, U.S. authorities are still investigating the organization behind the attack.


Salmonella strain linked to hedgehogs

Salmonella is bacteria mainly found in raw eggs and undercooked beef, but in the past year there have been 20 cases of infection with a rare form of the bacteria. Most of these cases were children, but one elderly man died from the strain in January. This strain has been linked to hedgehogs. The growing strain of bacteria infects hedgehogs without any symptoms and this leads to pet owners becoming infected. Other household pets that can carry salmonella are frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, lizards, chicks and ducklings.


Hillary Clinton steps down as secretary of state

After four years in the position, Hillary Clinton gave a farewell speech to the state department staff on Friday, leaving her post as U.S. secretary of state. Her successor, Senator John Kerry, was sworn in during a private ceremony later in the day, and is due to take his first official overseas trip in upcoming weeks, a trip that may include visits to Israel and Egypt. During her time as secretary of state, Clinton visited 112 different countries.



Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby sees no shadowan early spring

An early spring is in store for the U.S.; the  famous groundhog who put Groundhog Day on the calendar—and in the 1993 box office—emerged from his residence early Feb. 2 without seeing his shadow. This is by far the most uncommon result, having only happened 16 of the last 115 recorded outcomes.

Photos: courtesy of english.alarabiya.net ,  abcnews.go.com 

Home Run Burgers and Fries offers students a quick meal that won't exceed expectations.

Batter up: Home Run Burgers and Fries barely hits home plate

Be Esther Lee–


Home Run Burgers and Fries offers students a quick meal that won’t exceed expectations.

There are no surprises at Home Run Burgers & Fries, located in Cardinal Towne. As the restaurant name implies, everything within the eatery is baseball-themed or related. Although a good place for the nostalgic all-American burgers and vibes, Home Run Burgers & Fries does not bring anything new to the table.

Along the walls as you walk in,  you are greeted by pictures of baseball players such as Joey Votto of the Cincinatti Reds and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees captured some of their most glorious moments in their baseball careers.  The players create the atmosphere of the restaurant, along with the ample Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and other pennants strung over the open kitchen. Although cheesy, the decorations and American flags (yes, there is more than one) fit the restaurant’s theme perfectly.

As the name suggests, they serve mainly burgers and fries. Their burgers are made with 100% Black Angus beef and the fries are hand-cut, according to their website. Following the American sports theme, there are plenty of options named with baseball puns on the “All Star Line Up” menu, such as “Bases Loaded” burger and the “Home Run Classic.”

There is also a “build your own” burger option. Choose between the “Big League” burger with two quarter-pound patties and the “Li’l-League” burger with one quarter-pound patty and run with it. There are 26 free toppings, which is 11 more toppings than Five Guys Burgers and Fries, including grilled onions, mushrooms and banana peppers. If you’re looking for your burger to be slightly out of the ordinary, try adding guacamole or a fried egg for a few extra cents.

The burgers at Home Run Burgers & Fries do not bring anything particularly special or out of the ordinary. You get what you ask for. There are no surprises in taste, in looks or in grease. My “Li’l League burger” with lettuce, tomatoes, mushroom, Swiss cheese, and ketchup was neither the best nor worst burger I’ve had. The burger tasted like any other burger from other restaurants. For non-beef lovers, there are also chicken and fish sandwich options.

Unfortunately, the fries did not complement the burgers. They were definitely hand-cut, but both the Homerun and Cajun fries were soft and tasted bland as if they were left out on the counter for too long.
The items on the menu are reasonably priced and affordable. The food came out relatively quick after ordering and the staff was friendly. The restaurant carries local atmosphere like its neighboring restaurants in Cardinal Towne.
For college students looking to grab a quick bite, Home Run Burger & Fries is the most convenient option, but if you’re looking for a more unique flair of higher quality, eat somewhere else.

Photos: Stephanie Hoff/The Louisville Cardinal

At sit down restaurants, like above, should you tip in relation to the service or your personal idea of a standard tip?

To tip or not to tip: service is the question for most

By Tyler Mercer–

At sit down restaurants, like above, should you tip in relation to the service or your personal idea of a standard tip?

I recently went to a nice Chinese restaurant on Bardstown Road to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We arrived a little late, within thirty minutes of the kitchen closing, but the manager handed us menus and seated us anyway. As we sat contemplating what we wanted to eat and chatting about whatever came to mind, the time between our arrival and our last chance to order before the kitchen closed was dwindling down steadily and without much notice from our party.

Our waiter, who, I must add, took a little too long to bring our drinks finally, came to our table to take our order. While we were going around the table placing our orders and adding or subtracting things from our meals, the manager very rudely barked at our waiter that the kitchen was about to close and we needed to hurry up. At first, I was simply taken aback that the manager would act so rudely to his employee at all, but especially in front of customers.

Up to this point, our waiter hadn’t really paid much attention to us and frankly wasn’t impressing me with his customer service skills. It was the end of the night, so I was willing to give him a little slack – even more willing after watching him get yelled at in front of everyone. He submitted our order and after another long wait, our food finally arrived. Sounds awesome, right? The food is here; we’re hungry and ready to eat. Wrong.

Not only did our food come out at different times, but the restaurant only brought us two bowls of rice for four people. When one of the people in my party asked when the rest of the rice was coming, our waiter told her that we were supposed to portion the rice between ourselves. It was our understanding that each meal included rice. Either way, I was wondering why any restaurant that was being run by intelligent people could possibly expect its patrons to not only share a small bowl of rice, but expected us to portion the rice out for ourselves.

This is a small issue in the big picture and I’m not too worried about it. However, it made me wonder something else. When other people tip their waiters, do they simply give them the percent that is socially acceptable for that time of day or do they let the waiter’s performance determine the amount?

When I was growing up, I watched my parents tip our waiters on what I assumed was their customer service skills. I can remember my mom saying something like, “She was on top of things tonight! She refilled our drinks without us asking and checked in a lot. Let’s tip her well.” While sometimes my dad would say that he wanted to write on the back of the receipt, “Here’s your tip: Get a new job.”

I know they always tipped our waiters, but it seemed that for a job well done, they were always more keen to tip a little extra because they thought our server deserved the extra. He or she had earned that money. If you worked in a furniture store that paid you partially on commission, you would work hard to sell a coffee table or couch. You knew you would have to earn that commission money. Now I know that most restaurants pay their waiters less than minimum wage and most of their earnings come from tips. I get that. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard for your money regardless.

Those who work in restaurants work a customer service position: you serve the patrons of your employer. If part of your pay is coming from the customer, it seems that everyone would treat the customers they are serving with care and respect. If not, why would you expect them to pay for unsatisfactory service? Would you do the same?

Now, take a look at the standard way of tipping. Say you have a general rule of thumb that you will tip 15 percent during the week, but 20 percent on weekends. This means that for a bill of $25, during the week the tip will only be $3.75 and on the weekend it would only be $5.

If you’re a waiter, you know that some nights you simply don’t have that many customers. If each table is only leaving the standard tip amount, you aren’t going to make much money at all. If you had the potential to make a tip of $10, wouldn’t you want to work as hard as you could to make sure you earned that $10 in the eyes of the customer? They will be the one giving you that money, so why is making sure they enjoy their meal such a big issue?

What about the people who simply are not satisfied with the service from their waiter? If they are angry enough, they might not leave you a tip at all, which could mean they won’t return to the restaurant.

So the question still stands: Do you tip in relation to service or your own personal idea of a standard tip? Final Jeopardy: What is both? Servers need tips in order to keep a roof over their head sometimes, but I think that if that is the case they should be willing to earn their money. So while I support tipping everyone, I can’t help but keep their service in mind when deciding whether to leave a few singles or a five.

Photo: Arza Barnett/courtesy of the Courier Journal