Tips on high country tipping |

Tips on high country tipping

Sarah Mausolf
Vail correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
NWS Tipping DT 12-18-09

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – A motorcycle, a hotel key and yogurt.

What do they have common?

They’re all quirky tips that Vail area customers have left at local restaurants. While many customers are content to leave the standard 20 percent of the bill as gratuity, others have left memorable alternatives.

A bartender at one Vail restaurant said a regular customer once gave him a Yamaha as a tip.

“A regular came in; he always gave me $100 bills. Then one day, I said I wanted to go look at a motorcycle. He said he’d give me one, and he did,” said the bartender, who declined to be named out of fear of tax ramifications.

Ti Diaz, lead server at The Chophouse in Beaver Creek, said he once received a unique gift from a couple that owns a home in Beaver Creek.

“They gave me this silk tie,” he said, gesturing to his neckwear. “That was their appreciation for me being their regular server over the years, so I wear it all the time.”

While some gratuities have left local servers smiling, others have failed to make it into the tips hall of fame.

Annie Grossinger, a server at The Red Lion in Vail, said a man once left a waitress three Yoplait yogurts as a tip, noting they came from his hotel buffet.

Equally mysterious, someone recently left a hotel key in the tips jar at Pazzo’s Pizzeria in Vail, staff there reported.

Claire Zbierajewski, a bartender at The George in Vail, said she once got a $200 tip on a $100 tab, but she’s also had a guy leave just his digits as a thanks.

“He wrote his phone number on the tip line of the credit card receipt and didn’t leave me anything,” she said. “I didn’t call.”

Holiday generosity

People tend to be especially kind with their tips around the holidays, said Kathleen Byrne, a server at the Chophouse and a sleigh host/server for Beano’s Cabin in Beaver Creek.

“Customers tend to be a little more generous over the holidays, but I’d also like to add that here in Beaver Creek, people are on vacation when they’re here, and typically, tipping has been very good,” she said.

Fellow Chophouse server Danny Carleton also noticed that tips are better over the holidays.

“When people drink more they tend to tip more,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s Christmas, New Year’s Eve or Fourth of July, once the spirit is in the air people tend to tip a little bit better.”

Several servers said that while many people tip heavily, the holidays also bring an influx of guests from other countries, where tipping practices are different from those in the United States.

“A lot of people are not from the U.S. who come here, places like Argentina or Brazil or Germany, customers from all over the world,” said Brian Westmoreland, a server at The Gashouse in Edwards. “I think they have different customs in those countries in terms of tipping.”

For instance, customers may assume the bill includes a 10 percent tip, he said.

Diaz said he finds that tips are consistent throughout the season.

“I think that the guests tip consistently, holidays or not,” he said. “But I think guests tip differently when you make them feel comfortable here. A perfect example: A lot of families come in, and maybe they’re here at the resort for the first time; a server could certainly give the guest a first-rate experience by letting them know things about the mountain, what’s happening around town, events, where to go, and then you may experience a thank-you.”

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