To Insure Proper Servitude: Tips for Tips

IMG_1057Gratuities are never expected, but always accepted. As someone who appreciates a nice tip (I mean who doesn’t), I wanted to investigate the tipping environment on Block Island. Who works for tips? What does proper etiquette call for tipping the many given services on the island? As an island employee I can relate to feeling let down after providing stellar service, but I know I don’t exactly how many others feel, as I don’t work solely for gratuities.

On the island, the offering of a tip can unintentionally offend another. Or a tip can be innocently forgotten when one might be anticipated. There are the experts’ opinions, but there are also certain caveats to Block Island worth consideration. The uniqueness of the island offerings means unfamiliar situations can arise.

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Most innkeepers do not expect tips for themselves, but notice if someone else does the housekeeping. Housekeeping staff works to make rooms feel new to guests every day. So if cleaning is done by housekeeping staff, the industry guideline is to tip “$2-$5 per night”, dependent on the number of people in the room.

Keep in mind that more than one housekeeper may clean your room, so tip daily during your stay to make sure the correct individual receives the payment. There may be an envelope in your room, or leave a note with a thank you so it is clearly a tip.

Island Transportation

Transportation around the island is different than the mainland. Because taxis are often called for over the phone versus being hailed (or requested through an phone application), the time invested in a ride is greater. The standard tip rate for cab drivers is 15 to 20 percent of the fare.

On the island a $25 ride puts the tip at about $3-$5. Cabs might cost more on Block Island, but on Block Island most drivers are willing to answer any questions you have about the island as well. The friendliness of drivers is not something you find in the average mainland driver. Yes, the cabs might cost you an arm and a leg to begin with on Block Island, but an extra dollar or rounding up of the cost can help make sure you are fondly remembered (and swiftly picked up again)!

If you are transporting yourself around the island on a rented bike or moped, be cognizant of the service you are provided by the person renting the vehicle. The process of fitting riders, testing the bikes and keeping the bikes in top condition is a formidable task.

Island Eats

Restaurants

One place many are attuned to standard gratuities is in restaurants. The typical expectation is 15 percent for adequate service and 20 percent for exceptional service. If there is a comment card included in your bill, fill it out; it is a free way to voice your appreciation on top of a tip. If you are enjoying your company and spend a little extra time at the table, remember to increase the tip as you are IMG_3537with holding the table from the server to serve another party.

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Consider how much “service” the counter is providing? Is the barista making your drinks and food as well? Is the food being delivered to you at a table? The more service provided should increase the tip percentage. Consider these questions when someone is scooping ice cream or making your breakfast sandwich. In many Block Island eateries counter staff is providing service that is nearly equivalent to that of a full-service waitperson.

Bartenders

The experts say “$1/drink (or 15% of total bill). Pre-tip for better service.” If the preparation of the drink is a show, reward their efforts accordingly.

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Musicians

The island is speckled with musical talent. As a passerby it is impossible to tip every musician. If you stop to enjoy the music for a minute, it is courteous to leave a one to three dollars. If there is a musician is playing in a bar or restaurant that you are in, he or she are
likely being paid. If you especially enjoy the performance, a tip is easiest way to show it.

Concierge

If she’s cute, tip accordingly 😉 No, but seriously as a concierge I only expect to be tipped if I do something extraordinary.

There are people serving all around the island sometimes expected and sometimes in unexpected way. Being aware and thankful is the first way to show gratitude. If you enjoyed the service and it met your standards, a few dollars shows that. A small tip can make a big difference to the tipped, especially on Block where the cost of living is greater than on the mainland. And if you don’t feel money is appropriate a clear thank you in person or in a note can voice your appreciations.

IMG_1268Who do you sometimes forget to tip? Have you have gotten an unconventional tip? How smoothly can you pass a hundred dollar bill?

 

Block: 5 Letter Word for Paradise

If you haven’t heard, there are power issues on Block Island this weekend. A fire at the Block Island Power Co. on Friday evening is leaving some in the dark. The town is rotating which parts of town are receiving power at any given time in order to conserve the limited energy.

So in the midst of a crisis, keep calm and carry on. I present my Block Island crossword puzzle. Print it out, take it to the beach and enjoy! No electrical power needed just brain power (and some serious island know-how).

If you complete the puzzle, snap a picture and send it my way (jennamead7@gmail.com). I’ll send you a limited edition wine-cork keychain. I would say those who read the blog regularly have a big advantage on this.

Click here for a high-resolution copy: Block Island Crossword

 

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Dying to know the answers? Message me and I’ll send a copy.

What do you think of my crossword? Do I have a future as a puzzle guru? What did you get for 8 across?

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Ge-Lot to Love-O: Mia’s Gelateria

IMG_1085The sign reads, “If you like ice cream, you’ll LOVE gelato!”

Is it true? There’s only one way to find out.

Mia’s Gelateria is new to Block Island this summer operating in the same location and serving the same gelato last the former Beckett’s Gelato. I never made it into Beckett’s last summer as I have a strong affinity to the classic cone of ice cream.

But, times are a changing as they say. So I did my research. For those of you that don’t know Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream. The major difference is that it is made with milk instead of cream like in ice cream. Also, when it is prepared less air is introduced to mixture so the product is richer in each bite.

With the perfect flavor in each bite, gelato is eaten in smaller quanities thanyour typical cone. This is a bold move. Less dessert? Are you kidding me, that sounds horrible. But trust me, the Gelota at Mia’s is rich, creamy and round in ever bite. The tiny spoon slows you down and you’ll join the “less is more” bandwagon.

IMG_1082The dense dessert is available 18 flavors at Mia’s. The most popular flavors include Salted Carmel Chunk, Coconut Almond Crunch, and Sea Salt Chocolate. Mix and match flavor combinations or go for a scoop in a freshly prepared waffle cone. Flavor change weekly, check back for new additions. Doyon ‘s also dishes up non-dairy sherbets. And on cooler days stop by for Dunkin Donut’s brand coffee.

One super cool thing about Mia’s Gelateria is the fact it is Mia’s own. Mia Doyon is 19 years old and is the owner of the shop. Having worked in the shop before, she bought out the previous owner and now is her own boss.IMG_1089

Major kudos to Mia for young entrepreneurship. Oh and for serving top-notch frozen deliciousness.

The shop is open daily from 12-10pm and is located just below the front porch of the National Hotel. Mia’s Gelateria is cash only. Stop by for a sample and you be ordering a cup! Like Mia’s on Facebook for flavor and shop updates!

Have you every tried Gelato? If you were a gelato flavor what would you be? Don’t tiny spoons make you feel like a giant?

Block-Buster: Movies on Block Island

Summer is the time for beach days and outdoor exploration, but sometimes we like to kick back our feet and take in the arts. Luckily on Block there are a number of options that stray from the typical Netflix and Chill scenario for movie watching. 

And with the occasional rainy day popping up during the season of summer blockbusters, it’s best to be prepared. 

Option 1: Watch a First-Run Film in the theater time forgot.

Empire Theatre is 134 years old and a jewel on the island. The historic space was recently renovated but remains true to its original structure. And if you’re a smartie, then you know that there were no movies in 1882, but there was roller skating. “Polo on Skates”1937empire-300x201 a form of hockey was played in the building when it initially opened.

Empire runs only one or two films a night. Check their schedule for updates. The offerings of films normal are the “big ones” of summer. Sadly, that means that the summer flick you’ve been dying to see might never see the Empire spotlight. The upside? No family drama selecting with movie to see. 

On rainy days Empire plays matinee films, check their website for updates.

Tickets are $12 for adults and  children and $10 for seniors. 

empire-interior-for-home-pageLike any good movie theatre, you will have to be sneaky with your snacks. Before you head in stock up at nearby Seaside Market (great candy shelf) or Pop on the Block (for not your average pop).

Enjoy pre-show entertainment from local kids on the piano. It is a unique experience, you won’t want to miss.

There is one other movie theatre on Block Island at Champlin’s Resort in New Harbor.I have not attended a film here, but let me know if YOU do.

Option 2: Watch the stars under the stars.

New this summer the Spring House Hotel will be showing family films on its front lawn every MONDAY evening at dusk. Don’t feel guilty about spending a beautiful evening inside a dark theatre. Attendance is free.

13495101_1064651043615046_2109429567314636823_nShow up a little early to grab dinner on the porch or to grab a bottle of wine from the bar. Wine specials begin at $19 a bottle.

Upcoming Films:

June 27th – Little Rascals (PG)

July 4th – A Bug’s Life (G)

July 11th – The Gonnies (PG)

July 18th – Monster’s Inc. (G)

July 25th – The Loin King (G)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to watching a movie and feeling like you’re at home (when you’re not at home)

IMG_0694So if you want to watch a movie in the comfort of your snuggle, head to the Island Free Library and check out one of their hundreds of DVDs. They have a pretty impressive collection. (BTW it is only free if you have a Library card, for RI residents it is free, for non-RI residents it is $25 for a card)

Take it as a chance in watch an old classic or long time favorite. Feel the notastal course through your veins as you remember those trips to the video store.

Don’t forget you’ll need a DVD player to watch it on. Rental homes often have them or go for the Laptop theatre. Don’t be afraid to ask your hotel if they have any lying around (Maybe with a $5 bill in your hand).


Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 4.56.29 PMHot Tip: Save yourself the trouble. Netflix is not going to stream on Block (make that any internet streaming service). Scope out local listings for TV films instead. 

Fun Hollywood Fact: The Showtime
The Affair was filmed an episode on Block Island at The Inn at Block Island. 

What summer film are you excited for? What’s your go-to movie snack? How many times have you watched 27 Dresses?

Stay the Night: The Darius Inn

If you are looking for a cool place to stay on Block Island, the Darius Inn is the perfect place. Located on Dodge Street, this Inn offers larger suites and standard size rooms.

6Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_InnThis place is eclectic. Every decoration, book, and room were selected by sisters Becca and Christy Zendt. For the past three summers, the sisters made the inn their own. A certain personality is felt when you enter the Inn’s lobby and its one of intrigue and excitement. All the rooms are embellished with Block Island inspired pieces, and every room is different.

The Place

On the first floor, there are mostly suites with separate rooms that can sleep up to 6 people. FYI, the first floor rooms are PET-FRIENDLY. The rooms are decorated with charm and originality.68Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_Inn

Most of the furniture in the rooms is repurposed Block Island finds. The suites include modern efficiency kitchens (which if your like me is important for bedtime tea-making). All of these rooms have private entrances and some even have porches that let guests sit out and watch Block Island stroll by on Dodge St.

Upstairs the rooms are a bit smaller, but more affordable. There is sitting parlor and a communal porch for that people watching previously mentioned.25Allegra_Anderson_Photography_Block_Island_Photographer_Darius_Inn

The Perks

There are some additional perks for staying at the Darius. First off, though they may not advertise, is the perk of a totaly laidback vibe and feel. This place lets you feel at home in paradise.

 

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Happy Hour snacks are just as pin-worthy.

In the morning, breakfast is served. Guests can try homemade recipes of foods they have probably “pinned” but never had time to make.  (You can follow Darius on Pinterest too.) Coffee and tea are available throughout the day as well.

 
In the afternoon, Happy Hour serves up exactly that “happiness”: drinks, bites and a little bonding with your neighbors. Enjoy it in Darius’ backyard (yup, add that to the perk list.)

Additional services include bike vouchers and casual concierge services. The Darius also offers to “stock your fridge” with guest’s lists of groceries for a fee.

As a social media hog, I appreciate the Darius’ Bag trend. Guest can purchase the famous bag and tote it with them around the world. #wheresyourdarius #socialmediagoals

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The Props

As a sister of four, I give total props to the Zendts for working together and creating a cool, but also functional place to stay on Block Island.

The rest of the summer is fairly booked, but a number of one-night weekday stays are available. Rates for rooms begin at $195 and range to $565 for apartment style suites. To check availability visit dariusblockisland.com. The Inn is worth the follow on Instagram with fun photos and Block Island beauty.

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All photos are from dariusblockisland.com and Darius social media.

 

Have you ever stayed at the Darius? What’s your happy hour? How many sisters of mine will read this and want to open an inn with me?

Block Island Resturant Week

Sunday’s Bite of Block Island kicked off Block Island Resturant Week, which runs from June 12-17th.

 

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This chicken was clucking this morning at The Spring House.

 

Throughout the week many restaurants on the island will be offering specially priced pre-fixed menus.

The week allows diners to try multiple courses at the Island’s dining establishments. Rebecca’s Takeout, Persephone’s and Bethany’s Airport Dinner are even offering special breakfast menus for the week. Other restaurants will offer lunch and dinner. Don’t miss your opportunity to try an island spot you’ve been meaning to visit.

It is a week to let your stomach do the dictating and your head to put aside things like fullness and guilt. Be sure to check out the chamber website for accessing a list of participating restaurants and menus.

Stay hungry. What restaurant have you wanted to try on Block Island? What is the best dish you’ve ever had on the island?

 

Chopping Block: Clam Chowda’

Seafood diet? No, I prefer the “see food and eat it” diet. Block Island is home to many great seafood dishes. One to highlight on a chilly rainy May day: chowder.

There are different types of chowder, and I am going to break it down clearly because you don’t want to order one type and expect another. That would be a tragedy. So to be clear:

New England Clam Chowder051119065-01-chowders-on-map_xlg.jpgThis is a cream based chowder, definitely the heaviest of the bunch. It is thick and creamy and likely served with oyster crackers. Fun fact: In 1939, Maine legislature introduced a bill hoping to make tomatoes in chowder illegal.

Rhode Island Clam Chowder– This chowder brings all the ingredients of New England but substitutes the cream base with a clear broth.

Manhattan Clam Chowder– This chowder has a tomato-based broth that actually was first cooked up in Rhode Island. GASP.

Long Island Clam Chowder– Less well know, this variant of chowder takes the cream-base New England chowder, but it adds chunks of tomatoes to the stew. See can’t we all just get along?

So where does that leave Block Island, an island located in Rhode Island, in New England, but just a stone’s throw from Manhattan and Long Island?

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Students serve up chowder at BIMI’s CHOWDA’ Fest (Jack Lynch).

Luckily every year on Memorial day week Block Island Maritime Institute (BIMI) hosts CHOWDA’ FEST. I had the pleasure of attending this event. There were chowders from 12 local restaurants and I was able to try them all. I was sent on assignment from the paper so below is an honest unbiased journalist take.

So if you are looking for some solid stew when you are on the island the top three prizewinners are a surefire best bet. The winning chowders were:

First Place: Winfield’s-This cream-based chowder included muscles, leeks, jalapeño peppers and an extra smokiness from the added bacon. Be warned this is not a regularly appearing dish on the Winfield’s menu, but its top place speaks to the quality of Winfield’s cooking. If you want to try it, you better ask nicely (with a hundred).

Second Place: The National-This was also a cream-based chowder that was a crowd favorite for its traditional flavor. Creamy, nothing unexpected, but rich. Plus this one is one the menu.

Third Place: The Oar– Another cream-based top finisher. What could be better than a bowl of chowder with a heck of a view? I didn’t try this one but it surely was a crowd favorite.

DSC_4124Honorable Mention: In talking with others at the Chowda’ Fest, Bethany’s Airport Diner was mentioned multiple times. Plus when I was at the airport making a hotel pick, I loved the feeling of fabulousness that is small plane travel. Plus the prices at Bethany’s are reasonable.

On Block Island restaurants typically flirt with both New England and Rhode Island chowders, but the democratic blind vote of the Chowda Fest seems to speak for the masses (or at least show some statistically significance right?): Block Island prefers New England Clam Chowder.

So grab your spoon. I’ll bring the oyster crackers.

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Luckily, I had some help taste testing

What type of chowder do you prefer? Is there a favorite place that you like to get chowder from on Block Island? How much do you want some chowder right now?