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snedglow
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Pine Grove, PA
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Someone suggested I should have posted my message here rather than in the Secret Sessions where I had it originally. Apologies ... I didn't think about it, actually. Here is my original message:

Quote:
I have a few questions pertaining to restaurant strolling as I am new to that market and am unsure how I should proceed.
I want to approach local restaurants about doing this; and actually that is the first question: What should I say to the restaurant owner?

Second question: Isn't it true that I'll be working for tips? How do I get that message across to people? Should I put out a top hat or what?

Finally, and I say finally because there are still a million questions, is it all right to market yourself while performing in a restaurant venue? Can I hand out business cards or literature?

Thanks for the help, everyone!

-R
-Randy
[email]rsnedden@closeupmagic.org[/email]
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~~~~~
“Chance is but the pseudonym of God for those particular cases which He does not choose to subscribe to openly with His own signature ... ”
Peter Marucci
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Richard,
First, what you say to the owner depends on what kind of restaurant it is, what the market is like, etc. No one can answer that short of being right beside you when you pick a restuarant.

Third, there's nothing wrong with marketing yourself while table hopping. It is -- or should be -- expected; most pros use the table hopping gigs as a way to book the big-ticket shows.

Second, as for tips, that's easy: Don't.
If you are a professional, then act professionally -- and begging for tips (which is what it really is) is most definitely NOT the way to go.
Sure, if someone INSISTS that they give you a tip as a way of saying "thanks", then it would be rude not to take it.
But don't make a point of it.
And certainly don't plan on working just for tips! It's demeaning. You should be getting a salary from the restaurant that is MUCH more than any other member of the front-of-house staff so, if a tip is offered, politely suggest that it be given to that table's waitperson.
Some magicians say they only work for tips. Okay; but some magicians also beat their spouses, use drugs, or molest children -- does that make it right or something you would want to do? Of course not!

Start out as you mean to go on!
snedglow
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Thanks, Pete. I have a lot of trepidation going into that market.

It's a lit different than performing for a group of 10-year-olds.

I suppose the best way to get used to it is to get my feet wet, eh?
You know what's funny? I played first chair tenor sax from sophomore thru senior and lead tenor singer in my HS choir. Over those years and countless solos, both singing and playing jazz tenor sax, never once was I nervous.
I am more nervous thinking about walking up to a table to perform magic than I ever was in high school.

Weird eh?
-Randy
[email]rsnedden@closeupmagic.org[/email]
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~~~~~
“Chance is but the pseudonym of God for those particular cases which He does not choose to subscribe to openly with His own signature ... ”
Flec
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If someone offers me a tip, I try as best I can to make a trick out of it. If possible make two or three tricks out of it. Cig thru coin, pen thru note, coin in bottle, etc etc.

This tends to drag their mind away from the fact that they've given me their money. Then I hand it back to them for examination and they keep it. Most of the time they are too busy examing it, they forget that they had given it me in the first place!
MattWayne
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Richard,

hey wow you live in PA.! Awesome:)

Anywho- about restaurant performing. Totally awesome and I would say, "Go For It!" It's a great venue- with so much to offer.

As for approaching the owner of a restaurant. Don't do it in person- it's like soliciting, and noone likes that (except if it's the Avon lady- and your wife's birthday is the next day.) But besides that- make up a promotional packet. Stating your experience in the field of performing, and any other helpful items that might enhance your oppurtunities to get the gig. You also should include an 8 by 10 headshot of yourself. Since your not actually meeting them in person (yet)- they will want to see who their potential entertainer could be. Finally include your business card along with the packet. Providing up-to-date contact information.

As for hounding the spectator for tips- DON'T. Ha- regardless of what kind of restaurant it is. Peter in the above post said it best,

"If you are a professional, then act professionally -- and begging for tips (which is what it really is) is most definitely NOT the way to go."

Getting paid for your work- ahhh your putting the money in to get your props, and magic- right? Then you should get something back for it. Agree? The manager (depending on the restaurant) will try and tell you what the restaurant itself will pay you. Negotiation is open in this situation:) Take advantage of it- and charge based on your own personal thoughts on how much you personally think you deserve for your services.

As for promoting yourself at the table- go for it! If your not getting paid for the time- you should be able to self promote yourself.

Get in contact w/ me- via phone if you want- I'd be glad to talk to you. Join our IBM ring- since you live in PA. PM me for more info. Take care, and keep in touch!

Tomasko
Matt Wayne
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Magic Marty
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On the topic of soliciting yourself at a restaurant: If your audience asks for a card or asks if you do parties, go ahead and solicit youself. Don't bring it up if they don't, it means they probably aren't interested, and you don't want to come on too strong.
Adammcd
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Quote:
On 2004-03-26 19:58, Magic Marty wrote:
On the topic of soliciting yourself at a restaurant: If your audience asks for a card or asks if you do parties, go ahead and solicit youself. Don't bring it up if they don't, it means they probably aren't interested, and you don't want to come on too strong.


And what if they don't know to ask? Give your business card to whomever I say. In a magical way if possible They'll be more likely to remember you. There are subtle ways of passing out your card without being intrusive. Write predictions on it, Have the audience write on it, or my favorite Michael Closes Pothole trick is PURE GENIUS. Don't be afraid to solicit yourself in small ways especially if you want the work.

Thanks for your time,
Adam
The last thing you ever expected, should have been the first.
Jhonsky
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I think it depends whether you get paid hourly by the restaurant manager or by "tips" only. It depends on your agreement with the restaurant itself. If you work based on "tips only", then you can actually arrange some sort of sign on each table saying like, "Entertainers work for tips only" or "Please kindly tip your entertainers if you enjoy it" or something like that in a better and appropriate sentences.
Joey Evans
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I agree with several of the posts that say don't work for just tips, unless you have some other motivation. I won't work for ust tips, it's demeaning. However, if you are viewing this only as a means of getting your name out and the restaurant(s) you ask will not pay, then work. It's better than sitting at home watching TV, waiting for the phone to ring. Under this circumstance, the restaurant should know that if you get hired for a gig, you will not be in that night, and may not be able to find a replacement. If you are that important to them, they can "scrounge" up the fifty dollars an hour or how much ever, to hire you as part of them. If you do decide to work for tips, IMHO don't do as some magicians do, don't beg for tips or arrange tricks for trips. For instance, some people do pen through dollar, just so they get their wallets out. If they want to get it out, they will. Don't make them do any work, let them sit and enjoy.
As far as handing out your business cards, I agreed with pretty much everyone here. I had cards to hand out, and I also had cards that went along with a trick. For instance, I would have a selected card printed on the side, and say, I just can't find your card, I'll practice and call me, maybe I'll be better. Then hand them your card and they see it on there. Another example is to do the Genii mindreading/Picture this, method of having them sign your business card and the card appearing on it.
At any rate, restaurant magic is a great place to hone your skills, but realize that it's worth something. They have budgets for entertainers, if not they should have. It's always easier and more classy, to say you are the entertainment provided by the restaurant, rather then I work for tips.

Just my 2 cents,

Joseph Brummett
The Visual Comedy and Magic of Joey Evans

http://www.Evansmagic.com/



The Impossible Has Never Been So Funny!
bishthemagish
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Restaurants and tips. If the customer offers you a tip I see no reason to refuse it. But only if the customer offers it. When I used to perform in restaurants and a customer offered me a tip I say… “Thank you very much but the restaurant pays me very well but if you can could you do me a little favor… On your way out could you tell the people at the door that you enjoyed the magician?”

Most of the time they pushed the tip on me anyway, and when they push it on you I think that they will see it as rude if you do not accept it. So after saying this little speech I would accept it.

Then they would go by the door people on the way out and tell them usually with the management there, that they liked the magician and often said that I made their night.

I hope this helps…

Glenn Bishop
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markyeager
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I like to use Table Tents. They introduce you as well as your entertainment. My first magic teacher, John Mendoza's used to say. " John's performance is with our compliments, but tips are graciously accepted". This softens that question. In the 80's, Bill Malone's Table Tent offers his act for your next banquet at this property.
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Lee Darrow
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<aside> Hi Glenn!

Nice to see you in the Café! Have a cuppa Latte and enjoy.

<end of aside>

With regards to the theme of this thread - taking tips, sure. Tips are a form of gratuity, a method of showing gratitude by a member of the audience. In some cultures, refusing a tip is an insult. Take it with good grace and, if possible, do something magical with it as you take it.

As to working for tips only - one word: AAAARRRRGH!!!!! and one more - Don't.

The Worker should be worthy of his (or her) wage and, as a performer who is WORKING, you should be PAID. When a manager asks why they should pay you, ask him if he (or she) would be able to hire a musician, band or a DJ to work for free, or a waiter or waitress? Or their accountant, lawyer or refuse service.

You are a skilled performer (or you better be if you are doing restaurants) and deserve to be treated as such. Consider the amount of time and effort you have put into your act, your wardrobe, library and the like.

As a professional (and you are one if you are working for pay), even a part-time pro, you should be paid. And should someone decide that they want to show their appreciation by tipping you, be gracious, tell them that it's unnecessary, that you are paid by the restaurant and, chances are, they will insist, anyway.

Doing this also makes you look more like a real entertainer in the eyes of the other tables that might overhear the exchange.

Hope this helps!

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
http://www.leedarrow.com
http://www.leedarrow.com
<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
wizaird
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I worked at a local italian restaraunt on Saturday night for 2 hours , it was only my 4th time out in the restaraunt scene.I was a little nervous and had made sure that I relaxed for a few hours Saturday afternoon just to clear my head; you see I work full time in the motorvehicle trade and part time as a Door Security Man at a Night Club, it is one hell of a juggling act to manage these jobs but doing the security has enabled me to approach all manners of people without fear and talk to them.

Anyway I had took my repertoire with me , maybe too much but I was excited at entertaining strangers with magic and a little comedy.I had agreed with the manager a set fee for the two hours and explained that I did not want to perform there every week as I thought it would not be fare on his buisness (comments welcome on this thought) as I was there to enhance the evening somewhat with entertainment and it would be something that he was responsible for to see how it went and whether it was appreciated, a kind of bonus for the mealgoers and not a hinderence that would scare people off. I told him I wanted people to walk away from his restaraunt saying they had had such a wonderful evening at the ===== restaraunt the other evening there was this guy there entertaining us with his magic and comedy.We must tell our friends to go there .

I performed for 2 hours like I said and in those 2 hours I probably did no more than 7 effects in total , I was ad-libbing with the routines just for the hell of itand getting excellent results , tables were clapping and cheering ,(i must be doing something right!)

Now comes the part about tips,

I performed at a table with 2 kids , one of around 6 years and the other around 10 years , now as arule I don't like to perform for kids as I find they can be a little annoying and very hands on , however I had with me Rocky Raccoon , it was his first outing in the restaraunt and he was going down a storm with the adults so what about the kids? They loved him, I allowed him to be held by the kids each in turn, while I performed the Slydini silks with the other kid, under the watchful eyes of the parents of course, this worked excellently .This table was now alive with smiles of joy ,then I included the adults in some further magic with a modelling balloon (Kenton Kneppers Klose up and Personal video) .

I think this was the point the head of the family the grandfather who was sat to my left realised he had made an excellent choice in coming to that particular restaraunt that evening and that he was overjoyed to see all of his family from grandma to son to his grandkids laughing and giggling in a way he has probably thought that he would never see , it had made his night , he put his hand in his pocket and pulled out something and thrust it in my pocket , in mid performance I didn't stop waht I was doing as I thought that this was a secret tip and one that required no acknowledgement untill the end ; so I carried on as if I had not noticed and then at the end thanked them all and looked the grandfather in the eye and give him solid handshake with a further thanks. I still did not know what it was until the end , it was £20 ( wow ! ).

At the end I was approached by the owner to be asked how it had all been going and his wife interupted and said "Could you not hear the clapping and cheering"

I told him I had enjoyed myself very much and was grateful for him having me and that the people were excellent , however I would contact him in a couple of weeks to see if he wanted me again, I didn't want to turn his italian restaraunt into a stageshow every Saturday Night , He smiled and said " why not? "

On the way home to my wife who has supported me throughout the last 3 years of my magic madness and put up with high credit card bills, I realised that I was right to try to pursue this line of work as the feeling I get from making people happy in a way they have probably never experienced before worth more to me than any amount money , the feeling is euphoric a kind of high that can only be gained through this field for me and Yes I would do it for free every week its just that its nice for the wife to see some returns for her husband who is out on a Saturday night entertaining strangers .

Anyay I will be returning to the restaraunt and I will be taking some ready made balloon animals and some spare balloons in my pocket so as I can give them to the kids to take home and adults if they wish as I found that they were fascinated by them, you see I only had the diamond clear for the illusion I was doing and found that they wanted the balloon after the effect and always asked if I had anymore and could I make them something, I would have loved to and if I had some really special ones to give to people who were really grateful I think it would have give them something to remember me by.

Anyway I know its a load of woofle buts its real and its happened just the other day .

Any comments please add

cheers Dave
Alan Gold
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This is something I feel I need to comment on.

First, my background: I waited tables for 17 years. So I have been around restaurants just a bit. Also, in addition to doing some performing at a couple other local places, I have been performing every weekend at the same restaurant for almost four years now. This also was the very first restaurant I ever did magic at professionally. I honestly believe my background as a waiter helped me immensely, and am of the opinion that EVERY restaurant magician should get his/her feet wet waiting tables to get the experience from that end. Because, my friends, you are NOT there to show everyone how awesome you are, but rather, to make the dining experience that much better, and to make the servers' jobs that much easier. Which means (and this is a big pet peeve of mine) if a diner does not want to see your act, your best bet is to thank them graciously, wish them a pleasant evening, and move on. The school of thought that you should not give customers a chance to say no to you is, in my not so humble opinion, a bunch of hogwash. The way I view it, I am there to make sure people have a good time. And if I have to NOT do magic for someone for that to happen, well then, that is what I am going to do.

Tips: I agreed with the manager from day one that I would never ever EVER solicit tips from guests. This is appropriate in street magic, but NOT in restaurant magic. The restaurant should be paying you, and if they cannot, trust me, this is not a place you want to be performing. So make sure you get paid a decent enough wage that you do not have to "get across" the idea that you work for tips. I have a simple rule...if people offer me tips, I accept them graciously, but I never ask for them. Also, and I find this equally important, I have trained the waitstaff in what to say when/if people ask them if they are "supposed" to tip the magician. They tell the guests that they can if they want to, but it is not required, as I AM paid to be there. Of course, if people ask me if I ACCEPT tips (a different question), I usually make a joke out of it, such as "only from people who give them to me." I feel okay doing that, as anyone who asks if I accept tips is generally planning on tipping me. One final note on this: when I first started doing this, the restaurant manager at the time said that perhaps, if I did a good job, maybe even some of the waitstaff would tip me out. I told him absolutely NOT, and that I would never under any circumstances accept tips from the staff. This may sound odd to some of you, but in fact, I foresaw that this could very well develop into something very ugly. For example, if some of the staff started tipping me, and it became standard, newer staff, who were not making as much (newer staff never does) might not appreciate having to tip out even MORE of their earnings. I HAVE had some staff try to give me tips, and I have always, ALWAYS refused. There are many reasons for this, most of them obvious I would hope, but if nothing else, this reinforces the idea that you are NOT there to take their money, but rather to increase everyone's income.

Giving out business cards: My philosophy on this is that if people ask if I do private parties, I will give them my card, but if they don't, I will not attempt to sell myself. Not everyone is going to agree with this, but here is my philosophy on this: these people are here to dine and perhaps enjoy some magic. If they want me for a private affair, they will ask. If not (as most diners are there just for the meal and the show), soliciting such business could put a bad taste in their mouths. I am there to INCREASE the business at a restaurant, not chase people away by being overly aggressive in selling myself. I do not necessarily disagree with some of the other posters about giving away business cards as part of a trick, but I myself do not have any such tricks. But if you are talking about just handing out cards willy nilly, I think that is a bad idea. The best way to market yourself, in my opinion, is to knock them silly with your performance. You do that, and you will have them asking for your card. I guarantee it.

Not everyone is going to agree with my views on this. However, I have had great success working at the three different venues I have worked at. At the main one, the one I have been at four years, I have been here four years, through three general managers, and they love having me, and I have gotten more than one raise of my wage. The second venue, where I performed in the springs of 02 and 03, loved me as well, but for various reasons, it was not working out for them. (Not just me, the whole thing....the restaurant closed for good this last January.) And the third one was a hotel pier where myself and two friends split four days of work. However, the hotel had a change in management, and the new management decided to make sweeping changes, including sweeping away the magic act. But I still bump into people who quite favorably remember me from my days there.

If you ever need a viewpoint of someone who has worked in a restaurant as something other than a magician, just let me know.

And I hope it works out for you as well as it has worked out for me!

:)

Alan
Remember: Al G. is just another way to say pond scum.
davejesc
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David Juraschek
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Alan,
I think your comments were spot on target.
Thanks for sharing.
-Dave
Alan Gold
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Dave, thank you very much for the compliments. Of course, my remarks were not my own, but were merely my plagiarisation of the sleepwalking mumblings of a reclusive Estonian monk.

:)

Alan
Remember: Al G. is just another way to say pond scum.
Joey Evans
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I just wanted to add some of my personal experiences. I've worked restaurants for 10 years, my four years at college I worked the same restaurant and a dinner cruise. I worked there, because I got paid well by the restaurant and I obviously enjoyed the cheers and occasional standing ovations. I came to the realization, that I do not carry balloons with me. I love making balloons for people, don't get me wrong, in every other situation, I felt it added to your mystique. Once you make balloon animals, that seems to be the focus of people around you. You become the balloon boy, this becomes an emphasis. I would however, make balloons in the back and bring them to people having a birthday. These wouldn't be the dogs, etc, but more the multi-balloons such as road runner, etc.. I want to be known as the magician. This is simply my opinion.

Joey
The Visual Comedy and Magic of Joey Evans

http://www.Evansmagic.com/



The Impossible Has Never Been So Funny!
ksalaz1
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I find that people will tip me even without asking. I do not turn them down and never ask for a tip. I live in NYC so tipping is pretty standard here. I feel it depends on the venue and as long as you are clear with the management and set the terms, no harm can be done.

KSalaz
"Master of the Obvious"
Alan Gold
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Joey, your reasoning for why you don't do balloons when you are doing magic is the same as mine for not learning balloons at all. I just started doing magic four and half years ago, and I feel the time I could be using to learn balloons is better suited to me to learning more magic, and honing the skills I already have. Also, space is already at a premium on my person when I am strolling....add balloons and a pump (because I can't blow those things up with just my mouth) and forget about it. I know that when I am away and my friend Magic Jack fills in for me, most of what he does is balloons, because he does them, and once it gets rolling, that is the bulk of what people want. And while I love having Jack fill in for me, because he rocks and everyone loves him, the one part I don't like is that when I come back from wherever I have been, the staff invariably asks me (as do some guests), "Why don't YOU do balloons?" Urgh. hehehehhehe....

:)

Alan
Remember: Al G. is just another way to say pond scum.
Joey Evans
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An excellent point Alan.

Joey
The Visual Comedy and Magic of Joey Evans

http://www.Evansmagic.com/



The Impossible Has Never Been So Funny!
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