GREAT FALLS — With many restaurants closed for months, members of the food and drink industry were among the hardest hit workers during coronavirus. Now that bars and restaurants have reopened in Montana, workers say tipping has resumed as well.
Hi-Ho Tavern bartender Daryl Wilkerson said in the aftermath of the pandemic it isn’t his tips that have declined but business overall.
“I think we’ve always had a generous clientele...I don’t really see a [decrease] in the amount of tips I've gotten or get. It’s just the amount of people that are coming in...I think we’re slower than we have been before [coronavirus],” Wilkerson said.
He believes that’s because many of his customers were just as hard hit financially as many members of the food service industry. “I don’t think everybody’s just ready to dig in their pocket right now. I don't think anybody's in a position just to spend a whole lot of money,” Wilkerson said.
Even if his customers were able to afford to tip, Wilkerson said he doesn’t ever expect it in return for his services. “I don’t as a bartender expect any percent...I think whatever anybody is willing to give me outside of paying for their drinks is generous,” Wilkerson said.
Roadhouse Diner server Danica Gliko believes that tips are an added courtesy based on exceptional service. “Something that’s really important to us is to give great service worthy of that good tip. and we believe we’re here for the customer, not for the tip. but hopefully the tip will come as a nice thank you,” Gliko said.
Gliko explained what qualities are deserving of a good tip from one of the diner’s generous tippers. “We make sure that we’re smiling, take the time to get what they need, we’re not rushing you in and out."
Since the diner’s reopening, Gliko said some customers have increased their tipping out of respect for the workers putting themselves at risk to serve the public. However, she stressed that servers like her appreciate other forms of recognition just as much as the financial type. “We appreciate everything we get, whether it’s a tip, a smile, or a thank you - we appreciate it all,” Gliko said.
Even more helpful to employees within the food industry is the outward support of local businesses. “Support local businesses. Keep it in Montana!” Wilkerson said.
Hi-Ho Tavern is at 2600 10th Avenue South; Roadhouse Diner is at 613 15th Street North.