CLEVELAND — As the bar and restaurant businesses are facing financial hardships during the coronavirus pandemic, many patrons are digging deeper into their pockets to give higher tips to those serving their food and drinks.

What You Need To Know

  • Restaurant staff have worked throughout the entire pandemic because they are considered essential workers

  • Wait staff rely on tips from customers to cover their basic needs

  • Generosity from customers leaving larger tips helps the waitstaff stay on their feet

Kristen Smith is a manager, bartender, and server at Astoria Market.

"I just love interacting with people,” Smith said. “I make all the cocktails here, and so, I really love that. It's kind of like the cocktail menu is my baby. I put a lot of thought and effort into it.”

Smith has worked at Astoria since it first opened in 2016 and has been working throughout the entire pandemic.

 "We stayed open the entire time at least for takeout and our market,” she said. “So we've tried giving shifts to employees helping out in the market, stocking, helping out in the warehouse, things like that and those weren't coming with tips so we were splitting everything."

For servers like Smith, tips are their livelihood and how they're able to provide for their families. While Astoria has not received a huge tip from one customer in particular, Smith said customers have been more generous with the tips they are leaving.

"I know some people don't think you need to tip on takeout orders, and you necessarily don't need to, but people are tipping 20, 30, 40% on these takeout orders,” she said. “People are also tipping where for drinks, you know, sometimes people give you a dollar one drink or two dollars for how many drinks they get at the bar people are, you know, doubling that."

Smith said customers leaving bigger tips are really helping her and her co-workers. She said because of the generosity of the community she hasn't had to go without her basic needs during the pandemic.

"I do have to pay for health insurance. I don't get health insurance. You know all of these things that normally you would get these benefits you don't get that,” she said. “So I've definitely been able to maintain everything that I've had before. All of my payments, I haven't had to stop like any payments or, you know, my student loans things, like it's, you know, because of how generous people have been it's made the transition and this pandemic a lot easier.

Smith said she and her co-workers are grateful for the generosity the community has shown them.