Updated: Staff members at Level B said they felt played by B.o.B. on Saturday when, according to the bar’s management, the famed hip-hop artist refused to pay his $1,060 bill. A representative of B.o.B., however, contested Level B’s characterization of the interaction on Tuesday.
Level B owner Brad Weiss '03 said that B.o.B. and his coterie of about 12 people ordered three bottles of $300 Grey Goose Vodka, received a complimentary bottle of champagne and were given priority service at their reserved bar space. But later in the night, the group left without paying its bill, which would have included $160 in gratuity, according to Anthony Vipond ’07, B.o.B.’s principal waiter on Saturday.
Vipond said that, bill in hand, he chased B.o.B. and his entourage onto the street, hoping to receive compensation for the hour-and-a-half he spent serving the group.
“[B.o.B.’s manager] said, ‘We’re doing you a favor for not charging you … When we go to clubs, we get paid to come,’” Vipond said. “I said, ‘This is Ithaca, this is a different town. Things get handled a little differently here.’”
But TJ Chapman, who works for B.o.B., gave a different picture of the evening.
Chapman said that Vipond continually offered the group bottles, which they accepted under the assumption that they were free.
“I gladly said ‘yes, and thanks for all the hospitality’ … [but] when we were leaving the club he ran outside with a bill. I asked, ‘what’s this?’” Chapman explained in an email. “I asked how he was gonna charge us when he kept offering the liquor in the first place?”
While Vipond said he pressed B.o.B.’s entourage for payment, Chapman said the Level B employee did not seem upset.
“[Vipond] apologized and said ‘don’t worry about it,’” Chapman said. “Then we left. That’s the story.”
Still, Weiss emphasized that, although Vipond erred in not asking for a credit card earlier, at no point did someone from the group say that they expected to drink for free.
“None of us had any idea at the time that they did not expect to pay for anything,” Weiss said. “We got no requests for anything in advance from B.O.B.s group, but a reserved table and to skip the line outside.”
Throughout the night, B.o.B. and his group thanked the Level B staff for its service, Vipond said.
“When they were thanking me I thought it was for great service, not for the fact that they weren’t willing to pay for anything,” Vipond said. “We took care of him as best we could; we went out of his way for everything.”
B.o.B.’s unpaid tab was “financially, not a big deal for us,” Weiss said. He added, however, that B.o.B.’s presence did not dramatically increase the bar’s business on Saturday.
“Just because B.o.B. showed up, it didn’t mean we did any more sales — some people ran in, stood around B.o.B. and his entourage, and then they left, without buying drinks,” Weiss said.
The Level B employees said they have had better experience with other celebrities who have visited the bar.
"Celebrities that have visited the bar previously — Drake and members of the Gym Class Heroes, for example — have always paid,” Weiss said. “None of us had any idea at the time that [B.o.B. and his group] did not expect to pay for anything.”
Weiss said the bar would not pursue legal action.