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Arkansas service workers see less tips from customers as staff is stretched thin

With work shortages lingering, service workers in Arkansas are finding themselves doing more work and getting less in tips due to longer wait times and low stock.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As the holiday season approaches, many businesses are still dealing with worker shortages; something that is especially true for the service industry-- and felt locally at Mugs Café in Little Rock.

"...if it's running orders, and also making coffee drinks, or taking out trash while also trying to simultaneously take orders... we just get stretched pretty thin," Mugs' Bar Manager Abby Spicer said.

This prompted many employees to hope customers give thanks through bigger tips this Thanksgiving week.

But how has the pandemic changed customer mindset when it comes to gratuity?

While at first patrons seemed to show their sympathy at the tip jar, the manager at Mugs said the extra cash has leveled off.

A trend that Spicer said is a concern. "I think that it's something that people have forgotten about."

That's why Little Rock food blogger Kevin Shalin believes long wait times shouldn't mean you short servers on tips this holiday season. 

"A customer will think because the restaurant's empty that they should be seated. Well, in actuality, in many cases, we've got a shortage and with all staff members at a restaurant, not just servers; you might have a shortage in the kitchen. And it creates sometimes a lengthier process," Shalin said.

This is also as baristas like Spicer count on gratuity to help pay their bills. "I would say I rely on them pretty heavily... I mean, we're all working very hard, and just trying to pay rent and trying to pay our bills," she said.

So whether you're feeling generous, or maybe a little guilty clicking a screen in front of the barista, Shalin said that customers should, "realize that tipping well really makes an impact, especially during the holidays."

As Mugs employees emphasize that even a little compassion goes a long way, especially from their regulars.

"We expect and love to see people with patience and kindness during days when it's really busy," Spicer added.

So as you head to your favorite coffee shop this holiday season, whether by card or by cash, you may want to consider tipping your gratuity in the more generous direction if you can.