Modern Family's Ty Burrell Gives Servers a $100,000 Tip

The hilarious actor is leading a relief effort in Salt Lake City to raise money for out-of-work bar and restaurant workers.
Modern Family's Ty Burrell Gives Servers a $100,000 Tip
Image credit: Frederick M. Brown | Getty Images

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Entrepreneur Staff
Editorial Director
5 min read

Ty Burrell doesn't just play an exceedingly caring human being on TV — he is one in real life.

The actor, known for his Emmy-winning role of Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, is also a restauranteur/bar owner in Salt Lake City, and he recently joined Mayor Erin Mendenhall and the Downtown Alliance in launching a relief effort to help hard-hit workers in the food and beverage industry.

The program, called Tip Your Server, will provide $2,000 grants to employees of any Salt Lake City restaurant or bar who have been laid off due to closures. Burrell and his wife Holly are part-owners of Bar X and Beer Bar, and kicked things off with a contribution of $100,000.

You can donate to the cause here.

On an upcoming episode special episode of Entrepreneur's Get a Real Job podcast, Ty explains why he was drawn to the bar and restaurant business (it's fun!), his connection to Salt Lake City (the people are amazing!) and his love of the New York Mets (if there's a season this year, the World Series is a lock!). Here are some edited highlights of our conversation.

The Tip Your Server program

"Salt Lake City is where my wife and I and our daughters call home, and it has been hit twice. In the midst of this pandemic, they've been hit by multiple earthquakes. The restaurants that were hit by COVID-19 have been able to stay alive with takeout, but some restaurants had to shut down due to structural issues from the earthquakes. So we're reaching out to see if people who have the means might be able to help some of the unemployed restaurant workers. They can donate at www.downtownslc.org/tipyourserver."

What drew him to brews

"In 2008, I believe, one of our primary owners, Jeff Bernard, came to us and said, 'You know, the liquor laws are changing ,and Salt Lake City doesn't have like a proper craft cocktail bar.' It seemed like it'd be a fun thing for all of us to do, and also a good opportunity. And the further we went down that road, the more excited we got about it. My brother and his operating partner, Richard, went and got trained at a really high-level place in Seattle, and the more we got into it, you know, the more we realized that it is just really a great business. It's a business that brings people together. And Salt Lake City is a really interesting place — I don't want to sell it too much because we don't want too many people move here! — but it's a very progressive enclave in Utah, and it's a late bloomer and we just love it."

Sometimes you need a backup plan, and sometimes you don't

"There was a point before Modern Family, I was probably about 39, and you know, as an aspiring actor, you're dealing with a failure rate close to like 98 or 99 percent. It's really rough. You go out three or four times a week on auditions and have one failure after another. I was headed towards 40 and I was like, 'I don't think this is sustainable.' I was thinking that psychologically, I can't handle this. Some people are mentally tough enough for that but I just started feeling that it was not going to do me well. So my wife and I sat down at one point and to make a list of other things I could do instead of acting, and after like an hour, we had nothing! We wound up thinking that maybe I could try teaching, and shortly after that, during what I thought was going to be my last pilot season, after a lot of auditions, I ended up getting Modern Family and it changed my life."

Life, baseball and the Mets

"I'm an obsessive baseball fan. I'm a huge Mets fan, actually. And to help me cope with failure, I learned to take a batter's approach for dealing with slumps. They're not breaking down — they go back to their techniques and they just basically try to grind it out, use their fundamentals to eke out a base hit. Just approach every at-bat as a new thing, not a continuation of previous strikeouts. It's good for me, psychologically, to go back and start taking swings. Just get back in the batter's box. And by the way, when we get back to the season, this is the Mets' year. I have been accused of being too much of an optimist by my brother every year, but I really believe we're going to win it all!"

Listen to the full interview on an upcoming episode of Entrepreneur's Get a Real Job podcast. Subscribe here.

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