Not that there’s anything wrong with this, but how much could you skim if you rounded up every bar tab a few cents over the course of a very busy night? I had time to kill before Laurie Anderson’s underwhelming “Homeland” in the dread TWC and could not face the dreary little standup bar outside the theater, so I trekked to one of the fine dining establishments thoughtfully provided by the mall’s developer. The place was packed, and it ain’t cheap (two Americas, did someone say?) But I snagged a barstool, ordered an $11 prosecco and asked for the check right away so I could bolt at will. This was one of those bars that charge tax, and I was amused to see that brought the tab to $11.92 but the total to $12 even. And I could see why that would be better for everyone: looped patrons don’t have to grope for pennies; bartender minimizes the risk of undertipping by the types who like to round up in case Amex can’t do the math. But looking around at how jammed just the bar was, I started adding things up myself. An extra $8 an hour could pay for a cab home.
But I’m not complaining because the place delivered what you would expect every enterprise in the “hospitality industry” should. The hosts were beyond welcoming, the bartender was both efficient and engaging, even the busboys and waiter I passed on the way to the bathroom all helpfully pointed the way. Contrast that with the jerk at the door of PicNic latish on Saturday afternoon when a friend and I wanted to have a caffeinated beverage at one of the sidewalk tables, of which exactly three were occupied at that latish hour, all under a dark and depressing scaffolding. This guy said we could only sit at the noisy bar because “we’re saving tables outside for brunch.” I admit I was rude, blurting, “Looks like you’re doing a fine business with that.” We went three blocks south to Regional, where the hostess immediately showed us to a table, we got our caffeinated beverages (plus a basket of brunch breads we tried to decline) and they got a 50 percent tip. But I will never understand why restaurants would rather wait for potential customers than cater to the people standing right in front of them, money virtually in hand. If they were perusing the personals, they’d die old maids.