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 Star: SeaPod

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Bod Welch, a man on a misson. 

You’re sitting in your beach chair at Dorie’s Cove, miles from the hustle and bustle of town. The sun is shinning and your cooler is filled with snacks, drinks and everything you need. What could be better then this?

Oh no, you realize no one packed the Rose wine you requested! Nor did anyone pack a wine opener. And would it have killed anyone to bring some cups?

Enter seaPod. The Block Island delivery service. New this summer, seaPod wants to be your “fire-putter-outer”. When you are in a corner, call seaPod. These guys will bring you whatever you need wherever you are. That includes your beach chair, your far off rental home or your hotel room door.

To have an item (or items) delivered there is a flat $10 fee for items less than $50. For items more than $50 the fee is 20% of the cost of the item. All restaurant deliveries, regardless of size, are $10. And for all island employees, delivers are $5 off.

Bob Welch started the business because he wanted to create a network between the businesses on Block Island. All items that can be purchased on Block Island are (so yes, the cost of items is still victim to that “island premium”). With a series of runners on the mainland, seaPod can also deliver off island foods and products. But, delivery rates for off-island goods vary.

SeaPod has recently added Peapod delivery to your door as well as laundry service to its array of can-dos for you (by the way no copyright infringement suit currently from Peapod on seaPod, but stay tuned).

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Van on a mission.

I am interested in using seaPod as a gift delivery service. Say ordering a dozen Panye’s donuts to have delivered to be delivered to the office. The possibilities are endless. I am waiting for some sort of disaster to strike and need to call these guys in an emergency, but I’d prefer to go with the donut fantasy.

Most delivers on island take less than a half an hour. SeaPod does take credit card. To order call, or text: (401) 871-5061.

So be the cool friend that tells everyone about seaPod. Hey, I am.

What would you order from seaPod from the mainland? Is there a time seaPod could have saved you the past? How cool is my seaPod t-shirt?IMG_1022

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.

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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?

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?

 

Type A Itinerary: Day Tripping Out

Whether it is because of your overzealous boss or your fear of commitment, sometimes an overnight stay on Block Island is out of the question. Don’t worry, a day trip to Block Island still allows for exploration and adventure (just squeezed in between the first and last ferries).

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Dressed for success.

The night before your epic trip: pack. Pack light, you will be turtle-ing around all day (that means carrying your home on your back). A backpack can’t be beat especially if you choose to hop on a bike.

In your pack: small beach towel, sunscreen, reusable water bottle, heat-resistant snacks (just not chocolate protein bars please!), lightweight coverup/outfit swap, CASH (and credit cards, if we’re being honest).
I suggest wearing layers: bathing suit, movable clothing, and a light sweatshirt. Bonus tip: if you have a sweatshirt you are ready to part with, wear/pack that and use it if needed or discard if it’s 80 and awesome.

The ferry will feel like home on a day trip. Scout out the best times. Push yourself to get out the door early. The first ferries will be a lot less crowded than say the 10 or 11am.

As you come off the ferry, don’t let the hub but of Water Street make you feel out place. You are just as Block Island as you believe you are. Just don’t act like like a totally new guy. That includes: not using a map in the middle of the sidewalk, asking a busy employee about a business that is not their own, or most importantly, saying you prefer the Vineyard.

Wheels. If you got ’em bring em. Moped or bicycle. It is cheaper to pay the ferry fee than the rental shop. Be sure to bring along your own bike lock. If you don’t have your own. There are a number of bike rental shops right when you get off the ferry. Be a know it all and go one street back to Aldo’s Bikes, beat the ferry rush and be on your way.

The wheels will expedite the exploration process and allow to see more on your short visit.

Time for Snack attack. If you skipped breakfast or am just hungry. Time to fuel up while you are near some great options. Old Post Bagels and Top Side Cafe are great quick options for breakfast fare. IMG_0038.jpg
If you are looking for a one of a kind sit-down meal early in the day, Bethany’s Airport diner is an awesome spot. Hop on those wheels and take a short ride to the airport where you can grub on and watch the beautiful people come and go on their aircraft.

IMG_4063.jpgLet’s go to the BEACH, BEACH. This is WHAT YOU CAME HERE FOR. Swim, walk, surf and chill on any of Block’s beaches. You know how to do this part.What I can advise on is if you are looking to rinse off after a sandy session there are showers located:

  • Fred Benson Beach Pavilion
  • Ballard’s Beach
  • Old Harbor (near the boats)

If you grabbed something to eat when you arrived then went exploring it may be mid-afternoon by the time you want to eat again. This is great because you don’t want to be chowing down a big meal minutes before your ferry depart. Have a nice linner (otherwise know as dunch). Don’t bother looking for a happy hour drink menu, it is illegal in Rhode Island to discount alcohol for given times. Inquire about late afternoon food deals, though, a common replacement. IMG_0004.jpg
If you are looking to relax (as if you were at home) the lawn at The Spring House or at The Oar are great options with great food, drinks, and lawn games.

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A cone a day, keeps the boys away.

When it is time to go home, be prompt. Ferries don’t care if you don’t have a hotel room. Save the trip back for instagraming your “carpe diem” kinda of day.

Plus, because you earned it grab some frozen happiness once you get off the ferry at Brickley’s Ice Cream in Narragansett.

If you were on Block Island for a day what would be your first stop? Do you have day trip tips? How many ice cream cones can you eat in one day?

Barking Block: Mutt Hutt

As I have written about before, Block Island is a great place to bring your four-legged friend. With miles of beaches and a number of pet-friendly lodgings, Block Island is an island paradise for Fido.

IMG_0062.jpg(Somewhat) new to the island this summer is Mutt Hut. In previous years, owners Meg, Josh and their dog Radar sold their merchandise at the Block Island Farmer’s Market, but now the team has opened up their own shop.

Located behind The Wave on Chapel Street, this tucked away spot has everything your pet might need while on Block Island. The Mutt Hut carries high-quality dog foods that are not sold anywhere else on the island. They carry small to large size bags, which are perfect for those who live on or visit the island for a weekend or an extended stay. No longer do pet owners need to lug their pup’s food on the ferry to Block. The Mutt Hut has plenty of great brands include the popular Blue Buffalo and Taste of the Wild. An added bonus is that food can be delivered across the island!

IMG_0050While you treat yourself to a few treats, your pooch can as well. Homemade treats in the shape of Block Island may be the first Instagram-worthy dog treat. If you pick the sweet potato treats, I won’t judge you for trying one yourself.

The Mutt Hut space is sleek and modern with a hominess inspired by the owner’s Brooklyn roots. In the back room, you will find a photo wall where you can hang a picture of your “most best friend” along with an “Arf Gallery”. The goal is to grow the collection as much as possible, creating a doggy wall of fame. If you don’t have a picture of your best friend on you, on-site photo shoots are available.

If you are traveling or on island without your pet, Mutt Hut offers Block Island leashes and collars as well as unique artisan brand toys and accessories from companies like RESQ CO. and Trax to bring home.

IMG_0067My family is a little obsessed with their animals so I know every visitor I have will be stopping by the new shop. Block Island is a laid back place where dogs are allowed but also embraced. My “Hairy God Child” Liberty from Miami is already sporting the season’s hottest patterns from Mutt Hut.

Be sure to check out this new spot, post a pic on the wall and follow @mutthutblockisland on Instagram and like the shop on Facebook! Mutt Hut is open every day from 10-5, except for Tuesday, but after July 7 it will be open throughout the week and ALWAYS by appointment for dog food related emergencies.

What is your favorite Block Island beach to bring your dog? Mutt or pure breed? Now honestly, have you ever eaten a dog treat?

Chopping Block: Persephone’s

IMG_3543Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Persephone’s Café owner, Persephone Brown. The café itself is adorable with the small cozy feel I prefer my cafes to have. The menu is small, but does the trick for breakfasts, snacks or lunches. Just know that what you give up in menu choices you gain in over all quality. Persephone is a blogger herself, which automatically gives her cool points. She pours craftsmanship in products and it shows. I can speak from experience; her baked good are delicious (and she knows it, with the brownie’s name being “The Most Amazing Brownie”). The café scores a 9/10 for authenticity and attention to detail.

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Enjoy getting to know her a little bit more, and also check out her blog, and Instagram. My story (below) on the café will print in the Block Island Times this week.

New Kid on The Block

When you stroll down Dodge Street this summer, you come across something new. Persephone’s is now open for business occupying the space previously held by Juice n’ Java. Owner Persephone Brown sat down to answer a few questions about her background and the café.

What brought you to Block Island?

I came here at 19, as a summer employee and have moved away, come back and now have been a year round resident for 9 years. My first job was Aldo’s, I worked at The Atlantic and then worked at Eli’s for 8 years. And I baked for Juice n’ Java and got involved with the owners.

IMG_3540.JPGHow did you get into starting your own cooking and baking?

Well when I baked for Juice n’ Java, I got into making food for other people and started making the things similar to what I have here; baked goods, packaged salads. Then I went to school for nutrition, and that’s when I started making more whole foods, and gluten free baked goods and using alternative ingredients. I have been a health coach on the island and online for the past 7 years, guiding cleanses and coaching people on eating healthy. I have gone online to expand, a lot of people on the island still do them [the cleanses], but a lot are from all over.

How do you bring you background in nutrition into the foods sold at the café?

When I was guiding the cleanses [before], I started cooking for the cleanse groups and making food they could pick up on the island. Then 3 years ago I started cooking for the Farmer’s Market. That’s where I started making packaged salads and gluten free baked goods on a regular basis.

Is there a certain mantra you follow with your combination of nutrition and the food that you produce?

My goal has been to not just make healthy food, but to make bright flavors and colors. I have a hashtag that I use online which is #iloveprettyfood. I try to make food that not only tastes good, but is also very ascetically pleasing by using a lot of different color, and letting that be my guide in how I make food.

When it came to opening the café, were there any difficulties in your opening?

Having been given permission to carry on the name Juice n’ Java, it was a difficult decision to make to change the name. Having already the business through the Farmer’s Market, ultimately I felt I wanted to honor both businesses, and the original owner of Juice n’ Java Michael Shields.

How did you come to acquire the space?

When the property was left open, the building owner Carolyn encouraged me to take it. I had a 5 month old at the time and said no originally. But she persisted and supported me. The publics support of my existing business helped push me towards the decision to open the café just this March.

Is there a certain style or vibe you are aiming for within the café?

Relaxed, but happy environment is the way I would like customers to think of the space. I want it to be welcoming, a place to sit, a gathering place for the community. That’s why I have real plates and silverware. That’s one thing Juice n’ Java was that I want to maintain, a place where people come to meet and talk.

Are there any food trends you see on the island?

I think that with the island’s popularity growing and with more people staying on the island for the entire season (or longer stays), people want healthy food. The shift to whole foods is in part demand for real food that one can eat day after day.

What are the most popular food items thus far?

For breakfast, we offer a daily frittata, which comes with dressed arugula and sourdough toast. Our gluten free brownies, and Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Muffins are very popular. And the freshly made Kale Salad with strawberries, red onion, toasted almonds and honey balsamic is a trendy choice for lunch. Soon I’ll be adding egg sandwiches and different types of salads to the menu.

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Persephone’s Kitchen is located at 235 Dodge Street (the former home to Juice n’ Java). It accepts major credit cards, and offers Wi-Fi. The café is open daily from 7am-2pm.