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Where the waiter can always write

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Dan Antonelli is a man with a mission.

An advocate for workers in the service industry, Dan and a friend founded www.badtipper.com ("Where the Customer is NOT Always Right"). The Web site is neat and attractive with a ticker tape running along the top showing whether tips in various fields are going up or down. The site also includes information about topics important to the under-paid and under-appreciated, such as insurance, benefits and stories--lots of stories, many about celebrities and their tips.

Dan shares this one: "I get to my e-mail box one day and all of a sudden I see this e-mail from a waitress in New Zealand. Apparently she had lived in Ontario right near where the actor Dan Ackroyd stays between gigs. She has waited on him no less than six times and each time he either leaves $100 or 50 percent of the tab--depending on which is the greater." Since hearing that, Ackroyd has been elevated to the server's "Hall of Fame."

There is other celebrity dishing, some not very glorifying, and there is also a section on "hot spots" all over the country--places recommended by people within the service industry. "Every day I'll call a different city and talk to a waiter. He or she will tell me where the best places to eat are, the best place to get fresh oysters at 3 a.m. The places that might not be in a local restaurant guide but are well known in the community of kitchen staff."

Along with designing Web sites for different restaurants, including Margaux's, Antonelli works as a waiter, as he has for many years. He currently works at the Cosmopolitan at MacGregor Village in Cary, and it is there that he came up with his latest inspiration. "About five months ago I was in the wait station talking with a friend about how hard we work and all of a sudden I found myself saying, 'I'm gonna have a huge outdoor party dedicated to all the people who work in restaurants. It's gonna be in downtown Raleigh and it's gonna be on a Sunday when we all can go, because we work every other day. It's gonna be a day where you can be with friends who do the same work as you and where you can see a band whom you normally miss."

To this, Daniel's friend said she'd go on the condition that the band Crush was invited. Daniel continued, "And Crush will be there." Five or so months later: "It has rained eight days before this and it will rain eight days after, but today, Sunday, June 1, the sun is shining on us and here we are at the first and not the last Service Industry Night presented by Badtipper.com.

Crush played, along with Dr. Gonzalez, Vibe Killers, Fiction and DJ Money at Cork and Humble Pie in downtown Raleigh, and the busmen (et al.) enjoyed a holiday, of sorts, all for six bucks.

Currently no date has been set for the next Service Industry Bash, possibly sometime in the fall. To find out, visit www.badtipper.com.

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