Can Somebody Help This Poor Dude: Valet Parking!

Yea! One of our favorite subjects! The Blessing/Curse of Valet Parking. Let’s listen in:

I have a question about valet parking. We go out to lunch/ dinner about five times a week and do not mind valet parking when it is needed. But what if it is not needed at all? I cannot tell you how many times I drive up to an empty parking lot only to be stopped by a valet. An example: I went to get some coffee at Starbucks on Greenville next to Gloria’s. It was 3pm and there was nothing but an empty parking lot and a valet. I drove past the valet and parked the car myself. The valet walked up to me and asked where I was going. I told him I was just getting a cup of coffee and that I could park the car myself. I thought that would be the end of it but then he asked if I planned to “sit down and drink my coffee”. Like that made a difference. My question is what rights do these guys have? If I want to park my car myself do they have the right to tow it? Also, what is the normal tip for these guys? Usually the parking is free but, of course, you should tip. I have been tipping $5 each time.

Yow. Zah. You sure do ask a lot of questions for a dude from New Jersey. First of all, thank you for dining out five times a week. You rock. Secondly, will you tip me $5 if I answer your question? I’d like the Fightin’ Foodies of the Dish Nation to help this guy, but I want you all to know that Obama will fix this too. On your mark, get set…


  • Wes Mantooth

    In this kind of situation, I believe that it is customary to reveal that you are carrying a sidearm without removing it from its holster. This lets the useless valet know that you mean business and to shut the hell up, and that if you come back and find your car has been discreetly keyed, you will not wait for the po-po to get your justice. IJS.

  • Five meals aweek

    This brings up a good question. What’s the going rate for tipping valets in Dallas? (Not the charge to park, one of my pet peeves.)

  • Matt

    I tip $5 when I have to use a valet, but I avoid them and the places that (effectively) require them.

  • ESP

    For the record, the valets provided by Gloria’s at the Greenville/Matalee Starbucks are the reason that Starbucks is on the list of stores to close. The Valets are needed most nights, but setting up shop some days as early as noon has forced Starbucks patrons to visit other locations.

  • Drew

    If it is not a “valet-only” lot, then tell him to bugger off – and make sure you sit where you can keep your car in sight.

    I avoid valet parking at all costs. Ever see how they treat your car at Cuba Libre – esp if they don’ have room to park it in their lot? I’ve seen many a nice Porsche, gears a grinding or pedal to the metal around the corner there.

    No, thanks.

  • henry

    I worked my way through college as a doorman at a prestigious Dallas hotel. I can tell you for a fact valets don’t care about you or your car. They eat, sleep, f, and smoke in your vehicle when ever they get a chance.
    They will unintentionally damage your car and never say a word to you about it to you. They count on the fact you won’t notice til after you’ve left. By the time you realize you have any damage you are long gone and can not file a claim.
    I refuse to valet any of my vehicles now.

  • phil

    I asked the manager of the Uptown Bar & Grill (seemingly large parking lot but has a valet nevertheless) about this issue and was told the city REQUIRES them to have a valet. Apparently, their parking lot does not have a sufficient number of spaces based on the square footage of the building (there are other tenants, too), so the building has to provide a valet service. I’m sure other bars / restaurants are in the same predicament. That being said, the valet Uptown Bar & Grill uses at lunch is a jerk, so I just park across McKinney when I go there.

    Back to the original question — I’d also like to know whether the valet has any right to tow your car or take any other action when you park in “their lot” without using their service. Do they typically have some sort of contract that allows them to have your car towed? Where possible, I’d really like to park my car on my own without hassling with the valet. I’d also like my car to be there when I get back.

  • Man, I used to goto that Starbucks all the time. Growing up in Dallas I hung out alot on Greenville and quite honestly abused that place. Ahhh the memories. But, I dont think the valet can have your car towed. I think it has to be the owner of the lot and they simply work with a company who has a contract to do that right?

    How can Obama fix this??? Well, with his support of alternative fuel sources the research will lead to other technologies such as hand-held bowel disruptors which can easily be used on Froce-full Valets.
    In some cases they are needed and helpful, at Presby. Hospital comes to mind. But in lots they are a forced upon on us “neccesity”.

    I feel that the best thing to do is not patronize those places that allow that to be an issue.

  • luniz

    busy place, full parking lot – $5 tip

    complete bs job, empty spots – $1 tip

  • D

    You are not going to believe this. My wife just went to the Starbucks on Greenville at around 3pm and, lo and behold, there are the valet guys. She parked the car herself and the valet guy immediately went over to her. She told him she was just going to get a cup of coffee to which he replied “Well I wish you would have told me that before I walked over here!” Keep in mind he probably walked 10 feet. He also said some other pretty rude things as well. Anyway, I put a call into the manager at Gloria’s who was going to look into it and was very apologetic. I also sent an email to their corporate office.

  • Brandy

    @ luniz- i was hoping someone else thought that, absolutely right!

  • D

    I received a call from the valet company after my complaint. The manager of the valet company was extremely apologetic and offered to buy us dinner at Gloria’s.

  • Laura

    So what about tipping at places where valet is complimentary vs. paid valet?

  • D

    @Laura: Most restaurants I go to have a free valet but you have to tip them. I usually tip $5 but sometimes a little less.

    If a restaurant charges $5 to park I usually just give them $5. To me it just seems like they are trying to pocket a minimum of $5 from each car. I usually do not get bad vibes from the valet when I do this so I guess they are OK with it.

  • Will

    My rule:
    Never tip a valet parker more than two bucks. Exception to the rule – Carlos at Javiers.
    Don’t encourage these parasites to expect more. Why is it that something that should feel like a pleasurable and easy service, now feels more like an unnecessary rip off.
    And D – I hope you insisted that that rude fellow be fired. If someone had talked to my wife like that I would insist on it – Mind you my wife would probably have kicked his ass! Sorry to hear that people in the service industry behave like that

  • KRM

    Any word yet on the veracity of …”the city REQUIRES them to have a valet. Apparently, their parking lot does not have a sufficient number of spaces based on the square footage of the building (there are other tenants, too), so the building has to provide a valet service”. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Breadwinners in the back and Parigi on Oaklawn are good examples of a useless valet. The city ordinance requiring it makes some sense.

  • KRM

    Oh, and I rarely tip more than $2. My thought is $1 to park, and $1 to return, and based this on the $1 per bag standard for a hotel bellcap. I have tipped a $5 spot in a crazy, crowded, excellent service situation like Javier’s. Maybe I’m cheap, but $5 for most standard valets feels like a huge rip-off. Also, what is the deal when you are REQUIRED to pay the valet ($5!), even if you self-park in public underground, like at Knox shops when going to Villa-O or Ziziki’s. It seems like a valet scam!

  • I came from the extra rib

    Valet is actually spelled S-C-U-M….I love to go to places that are going to set up valet parking before the cones are set out.I will then (and only ever,then) intentionally park over the lines. It is such joy to come out at about 6 p.m. and see the annoyance on their little spotty faces!

  • DTD

    Funny how the valets at Glorias/SBUX on Greenville were nowhere in sight when the Greenville bandit(s) was(were) afoot mugging innocent diners…

    Yeah, it was ’04. Still sucks.

  • chris

    I have been working as a valet for almost 3 years. Never “race” or go through cars or anything like that. We get servers wage ie below minimum. so that never tip about 2 bucks is crap. if you’re that cheap, park your own damn car and walk. and ive seen people get beat up in front of the hotel. i call the cops. not worth me getting my ass beat too for 3.77 an hour. oh and if you park somewhere i ask (politely) not to, yes i can have your car towed. done it before. bring a smile to my face when that person thinks they’re hot sh*t. “wheres my car??” at the impound haha