We have been singing that refrain a lot at work lately. (Well, I mean aside from the fact that every dancer wants to dance to it, and it is played several times a day, and it gets stuck in your head.) It really has become kind of a theme song.
I used to think that The Club was pretty much recession proof. Until pretty recently, the news about the economy was not really manifesting itself in my work day. We still had big crowds, big spenders, and big tippers. Maybe we still do for the most part. I don't work the busiest shifts so I am not sure my experience can be extrapolated to say how business is doing overall. But I have noticed some trends.
Many drinks cost $7.75. It used to be, customers would tend to hang on to the quarter and tip a dollar. Now, many hang on to the dollar and tip the quarter. Many do not tip at all.
At night, patrons pay a cover charge. They can come in to watch the show without buying any drinks or spending any money. That used to be somewhat rare, but has been increasingly more common lately. One practice that is frustrating for a server is when a group of ten guys come in together, then each sit at a separate table, alone, and do not order anything. They have taken up the whole section, and the server has no hope of making any money as long as they stay, which is usually for several hours. We have started "arranged seating" when this happens and making them sit together, or stand, so they are not preventing paying customers form sitting in a server's section.
During the day, there is no cover charge, so customers have to buy a drink (technically two). Some people get REALLY upset by this and think it is completely unreasonable. But if we did not enforce this, where do you think the most popular place to loiter might be? I hate it when people complain that I am trying to make them buy a drink and they say, "but I don't have any money", like that is a perfectly legitimate excuse to sit there, making the dancers go on stage and dance and get naked for free.
Yesterday I worked the day shift and had to make a few guys buy a drink or leave. We had a total of ten customers in the 8 1/2 hours I was there. Towards the end of the day, a gentleman had gotten a couple of dances and wanted to open a credit card tab and put the dances on there. No problem, we take the credit card and the license and keep them behind the bar. He also decided to order some food and have another drink. He wanted to close out his tab, but his card was denied. He didn't have another card or any cash. He asked if he could try to get money out of the ATM, so I gave him his card. A dancer wanted a glass of wine and I needed to look for a wine key, so I said, "let me know if that guy runs." About five seconds later, I heard, "He's running!" The DJ went out one door, and a security guy went out the other, so he had no where to go and came back in. The security guy called the police and four officers came and guarded him while he called everyone he knew to try to get someone to bring him the $55. An hour later, he finally got someone to bring him the money, his wife. Hopefully she thought it was better to come pay his stripper bill than to go pay his bail for theft of services.
All in all though, it is still a pretty good gig. Most days, I get a couple generous tippers that make up for the lack of tips from others. I know of a couple other servers who have gotten very generous tips recently. One got $1500 for coming in on her day off to wait on a very demanding customer. Another just made $500 for flashing her breasts. Such windfalls are probably a combination of talent and timing, and I am sure I will get my turn too. (And FYI, I am more than happy to flash my breasts for $50, so if you all want to start forming a line, that will be fine.)
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