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?

 

Time for Shots: Photography on Block Island

There are plenty of reasons to put your phone away on Block Island. With plenty to see and do, the island is a welcome escape from technology. But what is summer if you can’t remember it in the depths of February when the days are short and the temperature is low. Here are five of our favorite places on the island to dig into the backpack and pull out the camera (but more often cell phone).

Whether it be for a selfie, a screen saver or a family photo these spots “capture” the island. Snap away and if you share the photo tag #Unlockedblock .

1. The FerryIMG_0892

It’s not everyday you’re on a ferry. Grab a shot of your traveling companions, your Bloody Mary or your wind-swept hair. A before and after Block picture might show you smiling a little wider and sporting a new t-shirt. The Block Island Ferry has a Friday photo contest. Upcoming themes include:

  • July 22: Pt. Photo Theme: A selfie or groupie on the ferry
  • July 29: Pt. Photo Theme: Wildlife on the island or in the water
  • August 5: Photo Theme: Favorite cocktail on the island
  • August 12: Photo Theme: A selfie or groupie on the beach
  • August 19: Photo Theme: Best Biking Experience on Block Island
  • August 26: Photo Theme: Your favorite place on Block Island

Submit your photo on Facebook or Instagram using the hash tag #BIFphotofriday on the specific Friday before 3pm.

2.IMG_1031 Abram’s Animal Farm and North Light Fibers

The farm is great place for an unexpected shot of a camel, a yak or any of the many animals at the farm. Don’t get too close; all animals deserve their personal space. Score a selfie with Cindy the Zedonk, for a fabulous one of a kind Instagram post.

IMG_34913. Mohegan Bluff’s Staircase

From the bottom or from the top, the view is desktop background worthy. Known for being a popular shot on the island make your angle an interesting one, don’t be afraid to change you’re focal point. Be there at sunrise for lighting that will feel magical or be there at sunset and enjoy watching the sky dance. The stairs and bluffs combination will inspire you when paired with the quote “there is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”

IMG_33854. Your frozen delight

At some point during your trip to Block Island there is going to be ice cream or some other frozen goodness. If you can help yourself, pause yourself before you devour your frozen treat. Find a scenic background near your scoop shop of choice and savor the beauty of the cone in a “freeze” frame. Or make it a family affair, have everyone put his or her cones in for a group shot.

5. Sunset

With a sky that likes to show off, Block Island sunsets are clearly worth the shot. Head west for the best views and do not be afraid to wait. The closer the sun gets to completely disappearing the better light. And if you are looking for a good time to capture a picture of yourself or group, wait until the last hour before sunset. It is known as the “magic hour” by photographers, it makes for amazing lighting and for every side to look like your good side.IMG_1205

How many like have you ever got on a BI instagram photo? Pics or it didn’t happen? Does anyone else like taking pictures of other people taking selfies or is that just me?

Chopping Block: Southeast Light Delights

It’s a about a mile (UPHILL). I say it many times a day. People ask where the Southeast Light is and I have to inform them that it is a little of ways, but it is certainly worth their efforts.M333

Luckily, to reward their climb Southeast Light Delights and a lot of lobster awaits them. With a literal monopoly on the refreshments available nearby, the food truck could rest on it’s laurels, but IT DOES NOT.

Andre Boundreau is the funny man running the show at Delights. He dishes out high quIMG_1129 (1)ality food and drink for the flocking tourists. One of his children will likely take your order.

I had never been to the truck, but a serendipitous win at Bingo with my mother left us with a coupon for a Free- Range Lobster Roll, a Del’s Lemonade and an ice cream sandwich. Yes, all lobster is free-range by the way. This lobster happens to arrive fresh from Scarborough, Maine. Sorry, lobsters you can’t be free forever.

We biked up and enjoyed every little bitIMG_1151 of the winnings. Boundreau as pleased to have us come and collect. Even promising to my momma #blockislandfamous
The menu is not limited to lobster rolls (which at available both hot and cold), it also includes lobster grilled chesses, ricotta and berries sandwiches, hot-dogs, and more. For refreshing drinks, they offer Avery’s Artisan sodas, Maine Root beers and assorted soft drinks.

 

So plan for a picnic. This food truck provides chairs and blankets as well. Leave room for dessert. The ice cream sandwiches are layered: cookie, cookie-dough ice cream, cookie. Or if my last post has you craving gelato, the truck has two flavors that rotate daily.

The truck is located just inside the fence at The Southeast Lighthouse. Continue up Spring Street from Old Harbor (yes, about a mile) and you’ll find it. It is open daily typical 10am-4pm. Like Southeast Light Delights on Facebook for menu update and a dose of good cheer.

Do you prefer lobster rolls hot or cold? What’s the best picnic food? Did we cheat at Bingo?

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 Island Farmers’ Market: A Craft Fair With Some Cucumbers

I have mentioned it before, but never fully post on the Block Island Farmers’ Market. And It is well worth the mention.

The Block Island Farmers’ Market open Wednesdays 9- 11:30am at The Spring House and Saturdays at American Legion Park in New Harbor. Its’ season runs from mid –June until October boasting all Block-Island produce, foods and crafts.

13407059_1137679179626066_1671465165789616405_nMost of the vendors at the market can not be found elsewhere on the island. Some of my favorites include Block Island Sweaters and Block Island Wildflower Honey from Littlefield Farm (sold by the one and only Hope Brigham). There are a few exceptions like Mutt Hut and The Spring House (my haunt), but for the most part the farmers’ market is the only chance to score some the island’s best offerings.

IMG_0922Like island-famous scones. They go for $1.50, and they go fast!

If you are looking to fill your pantry, the market is a good place to start, but it would be hard to survive completely off of the provisions of the market. The Spring House has fresh produce for sale at the Wednesday market, but one can not sustain themselves on vegetables and baked goods alone.

Meg Vitcoo of Mutt Hut heads the market making sure all vendors are able to have a fair chance of your market dollar. That means no purchases until 9am, so don’t even try.

Hot Tip: Pack your cash, most vendors are cash only.

The new locations offer a view (at Spring House) and reason for New Harbor exploration (at American Legion). Take the chance on Wednesday to score an awesome seat for lunch on the porch at the Spring House after the market and on Saturday grab a donut from Payne’s on your trip.

IMG_0957Stop by the Spring House shed for Unlocked Block sightings. Mention this post and I’ll give you a wine cork keychain (a $5 value!).

Have you been to the farmers’ market? What are the fruits of your labor? What is your spirit vegetable? (Mine is eggplant)

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?

POPportunity Knocks

Pop on the Block is the new kid on the Block this summer. This new shop is bringing the trendy treat of sweet and savory popcorns to the island.unspecified

The shop is eye-catching and mouth watering with something for everyone. Owned by a mother and son duo, there is something for everyone.

Popping Products

Prepared Popcorns

With 25 flavors to choose from you might be in here a while. Like any good store THERE ARE SAMPLES. Flavors range from candy inspired to spicy Siracha. My favorite sample (making my mother proud) was New England Maple. Come in try a few and note your favorites or recommendations on the wall. Owner Lisa Rose takes these notes serious.

Kernels and Spices

More of the independent type? Want your popcorn your way? Also for sale find numerous kernels and flavorings. Salts and sugars are available large and small. Small “make-your-own” variety packs come in clutch when you are the can’t-make-up-your-mind type.

Popcorn Pizzas

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I have never seen anything like these before. Small and large size “pizzas” combine popcorn held together with a chocolate “crust” and topped with other crunchy, sugar-filled toppings. No they don’t deliver.

Popcorn EverythingDSC_0665-31

Almost any toy, housewares or clothing item that has popcorn on it is here. Think Popcorn “Corn Hole” (which puns itself) and Popcorn jewelry.

Corn Hater? No worries, Pop on the Block also carries a range of candies and snacks. Making it a one stop shop before heading into Empire for a movie.

Pop in. See what new flavors are being added. I know it’s corny, but don’t miss your popportunity for a fabulous snack.

What kind of popcorn do you want to try? Should this place sell POP-sicles? How many popcorn pizzas am I going to buy this summer?