accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

The Tipping Point

IMG_8700

How much do you tip in a restaurant? Me, I tend to toe the line right around 20 percent. Some people might find that excessive, others right on the mark for acceptable service. I consider it standard for an industry that gets away with paying its employees barely over $2 an hour.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to overhaul the tipping system in this country? That was the subject of a recent column by New York Times restaurant reviewer Pete Wells that got people talking. The impetus for the story was a decision made by Midtown Manhattan restaurant Sushi Yasuda to do away with gratuities. The management decided to follow the Japanese custom and put all of its employees on salary, raising prices to pay for the difference.

As Wells noted, several other restaurants around the country have stopped accepting tips, mostly all restaurants that serve elaborate and expensive fixed-price menus. But the practice remains just about nonexistent among eateries that serve their dishes a la carte. Few are willing to raise their prices to accommodate salaried waiters. A restaurant that prices an entree at $24 would be loathe to charge $29, even though the final tally remains the same.

I’ve looked around Atlanta for tip-free restaurants and come up pretty short. Caffe Gio, the new sandwich and gelato shop from Antico Pizza Napoletana’s Giovanni di Palma, doesn’t have a tip line on its credit card receipts, even though the food you order at the counter is hand delivered. Then again, there’s a tip jar next to the cash register, into which I dutifully shoved some dollar bills.

While I don’t think tips are going anywhere soon, it might be time to revisit — and perhaps argue over — my guidelines for tipping:

Full service

Does someone greet you at the door, escort you to your table, then toss the ball to a waiter or waitress who manages your well being from there? Then you’re in a full service restaurant, and the standard for good service is 20percent of the total bill before tax. If the server goes above and beyond, then you should consider rounding up to a nice even number above that. A hard-working and ever-cheerful breakfast waitress gets a 10- spot for that $7.28 meal. Preferably a nice, crisp one.

If you have serious problems with the service, you might go as low as 10 percent, but you should keep in mind that a waiter has no control over a slow kitchen. If you have such a bad experience you are thinking of stiffing the waiter, then you should talk to a manager first.

Quick service

The fast-casual service model has become ubiquitous. You line up to order at the counter, pay and twiddle your cutlery at the table until a food runner brings your meal from the kitchen. At some of these restaurants, waiters may circulate with water and iced tea, or they may take alcoholic drink orders. What do you tip?

I generally go with 10 percent to 15 percent, depending on the restaurant and the demands customers place on the floor staff. These guys still count on tips for part of their wages; they should get them.

Carryout

There’s a reliably mediocre Thai restaurant where I get carryout every month or so. The owner always offers me a nice seat and a beverage — either ice water or hot tea. For him, it’s basic hospitality. For me, it’s the reason I like to order from this place rather than the half dozen other mediocre Thai places in near proximity. To me, this is worth $1 per entree in the bag. If it’s just a quick, pleasant transaction at the counter, then $1 for the order.

Coffee shops

This one is tricky. If I’m getting a cup of coffee to go, then I see no reason to tip for counter service. If I’m going to sit down and enjoy the coffee from a ceramic mug, then I think it’s worth a buck. If I’m going to crack open a laptop and hang out for hours, then it’s a buck for each drink, each refill and each food item I consume.

Valet parkers

I think $2 is now customary but I sometimes go up to $5 if the staff is working hard and making every effort to return your car to you as quickly as possible.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

56 comments Add your comment

Muffin

October 22nd, 2013
2:16 pm

I stopped going to La Perla on Piedmont because they request tips at their drive through window. I don’t understand that concept at all. I don’t tip people at fast food drive thrus and i’m not getting table service of any kind, so why tip? the people sitting down to a meal inside are the ones who should be tipping.

AzCat

October 22nd, 2013
2:35 pm

I would respectfully disagree, John. Maybe it’s my age, but 15% is standard for me, though I calculate on the total bill, not before tax, so I guess my percentage goes up a bit. Part of the discussion is obviously what one considers ‘acceptable’ service. If the service is great, I go to 20%. If the service elevated the evening from a meal to an experience, then 25%. The price point of the establishment factors into what I view as acceptable service, as well.

Marie

October 22nd, 2013
2:49 pm

@Muffin: I am with you. The Dunkin Donuts near me took a page from Starbucks and placd a tip jar at the drive-through window…and they still messed up my order.

No thanks.

Like @AzCat, I had been tipping off the total bill so John’s advice saves me a few coins.

Grasshopper

October 22nd, 2013
3:10 pm

Full service – 15 percent or 20 percent tops.

At quick service where all they do is take the order and toss the food on a tray before yelling your name to come pick it up – no tip. They rarely thank anyone or notice them anyhow. And those workers make more than full-service restaurant workers; at least minimum wage. If they do any refilling or order taking – maybe a buck or two.

Carryout. Nothing. Do you tip at McDonald’s?

Coffee shop. Nothing. See above.

A

October 22nd, 2013
3:11 pm

I’ve been doing 20% before tax for a while now. For casual a la Sweet Tomatoes, we’ll leave a buck per person. Take out, usually a dollar or two. Coffee places, sorry but no tip whether I sit there or not. Valet seems right at $2. It was refreshing to go to France earlier this year where there is no tipping in restaurants. Much easier to calculate and no stress or pressure!

Dan

October 22nd, 2013
3:22 pm

Enter your comments
For valet…..is it 2.00 per person in car or just a flat 2?

EDGEWOOD

October 22nd, 2013
3:25 pm

There are people that tip well and people that don’t. Not all who tip well are good people but all that tip poorly are bad people. Its that simple. You can justify it any way that you want. If you tip poorly, act like a jerk in a restaurant, have asked for something to be comped more than once this year then you are just a bad person.

GaPeachy

October 22nd, 2013
3:42 pm

It’s all about service! I tip well 15%-20% when I’m being checked on, and the wait staff actually seems interested if I’m enjoying my dining experience. But for the miserable wait staff that refuses to crack a smile, drops the food off and then you don’t see them again till they walk by and drop the check, they get the bare minimum with me. If you hate your job quit! If you have to work in the industry then make the best of it and have some pride in your work, it will benefit your pockets in the long run.

missnadine

October 22nd, 2013
3:45 pm

I would like tips to be included as well, as I find the process a bit of a pain. I usually tip a bit over 20%, but higher if that total is low, for example… If I bought a coffee for $1.40 I would probably just give the person $2, which would be over 40%. I would feel weird taking back a few cents in order to arrive at 20%. I don’t remove the tax when I tip, so if something is $90 with a $10 tax, I would tip 20% on the $100.

missnadine

October 22nd, 2013
3:50 pm

I did have a friend that used to be a valet, and she told me to tip both times, when giving you car and picking it up. I’ve always maintained that process, and give $2 before and after. I don’t valet a lot of times so it is not an ongoing expense.

I do the same in hotel when I travel. I give a tip every day, usually $2, and my service is always very good, extra towels, shampoos, etc.

MANGLER

October 22nd, 2013
4:37 pm

Everyone knows that it is customary to tip at restaurants. Everyone. Even vacationing French nationals know this.
The only possible reason not to tip is that you are a prick. A cheap prick. It’s just that simple.
Now the older generations typically tip 10 to 15%, and that’s fine, because that’s how they were raised. Younger generations get the 15 – 20% concept.
The larger percentage tips go to people who spend time with you and on you, like servers, the bar tenders you flirt with and make irritating requests of attention from, and concierges.
People who don’t spent large quantities of time with you but who still provide you with service – often times really good service with smiles – bellhops, valets, baristas, waiters at buffets who remove your empty plates and bring you drink refills, or a bartender you get 2 drinks from while waiting for a table to open up, also get tips, albeit a couple dollars rather than a percentage based thinking.
If you disagree with tipping, then cook at home and save the time spent on you for people who get it.

Baltisraul......

October 22nd, 2013
4:39 pm

A couple things; TIP=to insure promise. The tip is based on that adage and can be less than that if they did not meet promise. I was a 15% guy long after it became 18%. My wife made that clear to me in a way I will never forget. I am now an 18% guy.

My wife was a restuarant GM many years and is very sensitive about giving a good tip if warrented. You would be floored (according to her) at the number of people that never tip or will leave a quarter. If she caught them she would ask them to find another place next time or have them explain why they did what they did. The best story she tells is; two women did not tip because their meal did not look exactly like the picture in the menu, the mashed potatoes were at the top of the plate and not on the side of the plate as pictured. I told her I agreed w/ the 2 women and she hit me w/ her purse. We now get along great when we go out together.

Baltisraul......

October 22nd, 2013
4:44 pm

The restuarant I refered to in the above was Steak & Ale, now out of business, thanks to my wife!!!

Baltisraul......

October 22nd, 2013
4:51 pm

AzCat……25%…..I may go back to waiting tables if you tell me in advance where you are setting up reservations!!!!!!

Jadzia

October 22nd, 2013
6:35 pm

Tip on carryout? Tip on pouring takeout coffee? Tip an owner? Why not go into the kitchen and tip all the help? We tip for service that involves being served, this includes servers, food runners (in fast casual – if they come back and offer water/help), valets, maids, delivery folks always get a minimum of $4 or 20% whichever is higher. Carryout and restaurant owners – zero.

Road Scholar

October 22nd, 2013
6:51 pm

I start at 15% on the bill after tax. If the service and food is excellent, I go up to 20-25%. If it sucks, 10%. If it really sucks…..0% or a dollar! I do not tip at drive-thrus. Nor coffee shops esp if I have to wait.

For the person who asked whether the $2 tip was once or dependent on how many people are in the car….the valet only parks one car, even if they open the doors for occupants. I tip either $2 -5% dependent on service.

(the other) Rodney

October 22nd, 2013
7:07 pm

I’m at a standard 20%. That’s for fine, no issues service. If it’s better than fine I always tip more (in the form of cash placed inside the check holder – 20% on the card, extra in cash). If it’s bad, I always tip less, but never do I leave less than $5.00.

As for valet, I’m far less generous. I’m tipping after I get my car and after I inspect it for damage. A standard $2 or $3.

Coffee shops? Maybe $1 if I go inside. No tip at a drive-thru of any kind unless I pay in cash and have change (and that’s only because I hate carrying change).

A

October 22nd, 2013
7:29 pm

No tipping the owner? WTF? Are you still being served? Sometimes the owner is covering for an emotionally unstable waitperson who is trying to get their act together – and most owners throw their tips into the community pool for all to split. Tipping should be based on one thing – service, but all to often it falls into socio-economic status/income ! If you cant “afford” to tip, then maybe you should lower your service expectations and patronize restaurants that fit your budget.

…signed – server4life

art

October 23rd, 2013
8:00 am

I generally tip 20% on the total bill and I round up. I guess I’m mathematically lazy. I tend to tip more at places where good tips are not expected. If I’ve enjoyed a good breakfast with frequent coffee refills, I’ll leave a $20, not all the time but pretty often. I hate places that include the tip in the bill even if it’s for larger parties. I guess because I’m a pretty good tipper, I hate someone telling me how much I need to tip. If they do, say require 18% on the bill before taxes, then that’s all I tip… even though I would ordinarily tip a lot better; it just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t think anyone has mentioned the practice of breaking out wine; while I don’t, it does seem kind of absurd to tip based upon bottle cost.

art

October 23rd, 2013
8:02 am

correction… I should have said “based upon bottle price”. Everyone knows that wine is marked way up in restaurants, usually 2-3 times the wholesale cost.

AzCat

October 23rd, 2013
8:10 am

Balti, if your service elevated the meal to an experience, you would get the 25%. ;-)

This was many moons ago but both of my sisters waited tables in high school and college and they alway said if you were trying to let the server know they were awful, never stiff them. Leave something very small so it was clear you hadn’t just ‘forgotten’ to leave a tip. Nowadays, I think I would go the JK route and speak with the manager first.

2 sense

October 23rd, 2013
8:34 am

Here is my pickle: Every time I step into a restaurant, people think I am not going to tip well. It is because I am from a certain ethnic group? Not religous sect. I then receive bad service, which only perpetuates the low tip. It’s a vicious cycle! What am I to do?

stephieZ

October 23rd, 2013
9:02 am

I’m a 20% tipper. I also tip when getting carryout or just counter service. I’m not sure why, it just feels ingrained and that damn tip line is always staring me down.

I don’t think we should stop tipping though. I was in Vienna not too long ago and the service everywhere was terrible. Since you don’t tip much there I’m wondering if that had to do with it.

Anne

October 23rd, 2013
9:28 am

Tip for carry-out? Never. I’m not dirtying any dishes, drinking any water, taking up table space, or taking any time longer than it takes to swipe my debit card and make sure my order is correct.

A

October 23rd, 2013
9:46 am

Anne – Why not tip for carry out ? The server takes the order over the phone (which is never easy or quick) provides a service of packing your order in carry out packages, checks for accuracy, and throws in the little extras like bread, butter, napkins …

What most people don’t realize is carryout ends up costing more to the restaurant (packaging in disposables) and takes almost as much service as in house dining.

And for stereotyping, I serve everyone with equal respect and levels of accommodations. But if you could do a study and produce a graph that showed the correlation between good tipping, and excessive requests for service – my bet is it would show that they correlate in opposite directions. My experience has always been, the more a party asks for extra bread, new silverware, more salad dressing, less ice, etc…. the less they tip.

#justsaying
#server4life

Baltisraul......

October 23rd, 2013
10:10 am

AzCat……the folks that leave a quarter, always leave a quarter, reguardless of the quality of service. It has been a long time since I thought my service was less than a 15% tip. Maybe I am just a lucky customer.

25% tip from me, probably not. 18 % when I dine alone, 20% when I dine w/ my wife. When my brain tells me I have reached promise, it never tells me to go to 25%. At that point you are only patting yourself on the back for being such a good & generous customer.

Service that elevates the experience? When you do decide to do fine dining, one of the reasons you go IS the knowledge that great service is one of the reasons for chosing the restuarant in the first place. Since I expected fabulous service, it in no way elevated the experience, it just justified why I picked this great place to eat. The tab was larger and thus at 20% the tip was larger. Everbody is happy.

berry steve

October 23rd, 2013
11:12 am

@Balt,you really do know how to cut to the chase. Kudos to you. Love the mashed potatoes story.

Anne

October 23rd, 2013
11:26 am

Nope. No tipping for carryout. I refuse to analyze everyone’s job responsibilities and business plan and obligate myself for their compensation. If I’m eating in, I tip 20% unless the service was terrible. If I’m carrying out, I don’t tip. I can not imagine it takes more than literally two seconds to put a napkin in a carry-out bag.

MIchael

October 23rd, 2013
12:00 pm

question, what do you tip if the service is atrocious? I have no qualm about tipping 10% and I also deliberately write on the receipt why, “never checked on us, asked three times for ketchup, had to refill my own drink,…”

Especially if I’m charging. That way the manager should see it.

Baltisraul......

October 23rd, 2013
12:17 pm

Michael……..if the service was that bad I would go to the mgr. first and then after his/her explanation to you, decide what to give as a tip. If the mrg. tries to cover the wait staff w/ lame excuses, as will happen, just don’t tip. You now have a clear picture of what this place thinks of its customers. The idea is to put on notice the staff so they can clean up their act for the next wave. If your expectations were not met theirs should not be either.

Dr. C

October 23rd, 2013
4:02 pm

I don’t understand why this distinction for waiters exists. Why not pay them at least minimum wage (or more) like a receptionist, beginning warehouse worker etc. I don’t pay a tip to the clerk in the dental office for being nice for the 2 minutes we interact. Pay them a wage and no more funny handling of their wages and presumed tip income. If they are good at the job and are successful, they can get a raise, just like in every other industry. Let the restaurant charge the appropriate amount to cover their expenses, just like every other industry. Where did this special treatment come from? And tipping for carryout? I’ll be tipping the girl at the cleaners, the person at the drug store window… where would THAT end?

EDGEWOOD

October 23rd, 2013
4:27 pm

If you do not think you should tip on take out then maybe you should just cook at home. Eating out should be reserved for people that understand the rules.

@Dr C
You contradicted yourself in the same paragraph. The reason you do not tip the dry cleaner or the person at the drug store is they are paid a real wage. The same wage you claimed to want servers to have. Try to keep your thoughts consistent from sentence to sentence please.

Baltisraul......

October 23rd, 2013
5:21 pm

EDGEWOOD…..tipping for take out is an individual thing. My guess is that the vast majority of folks don’t tip for take-out. But if they all stay home and cooked as you suggest, would not all those take-out joints go out of business. Didn’t think of that did you? That would be the rule of supply and demand and most of us understand that rule. I’ll bet Dr C agrees w/ me any many others. This may help you be more consistent.

HT

October 23rd, 2013
6:48 pm

Restaurants: 20% or more
Quick-service restaurants (e.g., burritos, sandwiches, and salads): $1 or $2 at the counter
Coffee shops: $1 on top of my beverage
Valet: $3 – $5 upon pickup
Hotel housekeepers: $5 per day
Food delivery persons: $5 per trip
Car wash finishers (two person team): $6
Hair stylist: 20%
Bathroom attendant at Swinging Richards: $1 per visit

Marie D.

October 24th, 2013
8:02 am

@ Edgewood@4:27….you just got punked.

Marsh

October 24th, 2013
9:07 am

If Baltisraul (who, for some reason, I always thought was a woman) was right, then the term would be “tep.” To ensure promise, whatever that means. I’ve heard this BS before. It’s just another word for gratuity. It’s etymology dates back like 300 years. Get a clue.

I tip 20%. It’s just easier.

Grasshopper

October 24th, 2013
9:25 am

“If you do not think you should tip on take out then maybe you should just cook at home. Eating out should be reserved for people that understand the rules.”

Take out is not eating out. I’ll ask again – do you tip at McDonald’s or Subway? They stick the napkin in your bag too you know. Do you tip at Publix when they stick your chicken in a box?

Baltisraul......

October 24th, 2013
9:34 am

Thanks Marsh, thats just the way I remember it. But insure does mean ‘to make certain’. So that would fit also. Sometimes old sayings don’t always translate well as time goes by. But I would not catergorize the definition as BS, just old. I usually have a clue but if you think I’m a dumbass, thats ok also.

EDGEWOOD

October 24th, 2013
10:03 am

What do you cretins consider takeout? I’m talking about when you call a restaurant and the bartender packs up your food. Like Fox Bros for example. You tip 10% on that. End of story.

@Grasshopper
Its not difficult. If you enter somewhere that you know people rely on tips to make their living you tip properly. If you order takeout from a restaurant and the bartender packs your food well now you are dealing with a person who relies on tips. Would you not tip him or her for a drink? When a delivery guy comes to your house you owe them a tip. A valet requires a tip. Its not hard. No, you do not have to tip at McDonalds or Publix because those employees’ salary is not based on tipping. Does that make it more clear? Are you willfully being ignorant or are you just stupid?

A

October 24th, 2013
11:11 am

To compare Mcdonalds to restaurant take out is ludicrous (no offense Luda). People who work in full service dining do so to make more money than those at McD’s. In order to make more money, restaurants must provide a higher level of service and product than fast food. Ultimately this is why you patronize the restaurant as opposed to McDs.

And tipping was intended to not just reward exceptional service but to create incentive for the server to provide exceptional service. No other industry gives you immediate feedback through compensation as does the food industry. You do a good job, you are immediately rewarded; converse if you do a poor job.

Lastly, restaurants net margins are usually small, and to add more expenses (look at what the healthcare act has done to restaurants) would and will simply drive the final product costs higher. If you are old enough to remember, dining out used to be prohibitively expensive, and reserved for special occasions. Today it is viewed as a patriotic right ;o)

#server4life

jennifer

October 24th, 2013
3:34 pm

I was recently in a self-serve froyo shop that had the nerve to place a tip jar by the register. Tip for WHAT? Letting me make my own snack?

AzCat

October 24th, 2013
5:25 pm

Balti, no, no backpatting, just rewarding service that was beyond great. I can only think of three or four times I did so, and once was at IHOP, because the server treated all of us so well that my 92 year old mother smiled through the whole meal and she made her feel like the queen of all she surveyed for an hour or so. If that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Chris

October 24th, 2013
9:21 pm

The best service I’ve ever received was in Japan, where there’s no tipping. In an article I read about a restauranteur who began paying his staff a higher salary and banned tipping, the staff agreed that they provided better service when they focused on their job and customers’ needs, rather than tips. I also think our practice of tipping makes me question the sincerity of my server’s attempts to be nice to me. Is the server nice because he likes me, or because he wants a bigger tip? So, although I agree with most of Baltisraul’s comments, I don’t agree with the adage that a TIP insures good service.
I also dislike tipping on a percentage. Why should someone receive more compensation because I ordered the steak versus the pasta? And worse, what about the poor waitresses who work harder in diners than waiters in a high end restaurant? Why should they be paid less? And why should waiters in a high end restaurant receive more than the cooks making the food? I think it’s a bad system and I would love to see it go. Nevertheless, I tend to tip around 20% off the tab pre-tax, but I round down thinking that 18% would be more than sufficient for most service I receive.
Here’s an eater.com article on restaurateur’s against tipping:
http://eater.com/archives/2013/08/12/the-tipping-backlash-gains-momentum.php

Baltisraul......

October 24th, 2013
11:12 pm

AzCat…….Great point. Nice to hear a good story about IHOP, my twin daughters are servers @ IHOP while going to college.

Bhorsoft

October 24th, 2013
11:50 pm

I’d be interested in tip percentages for bars. If I have a beer at the bar waiting for someone that is $3.50 I’ll leave $4. I’m generally in the 20% range for bar service but it depends on the bartender’s speed and how well drinks are mixed. If I’m shorted on the booze, I short the tip.

I did leave a penny as a tip once. The place was full service, but not particularly fancy. The waiter barely showed his face. It took over a half hour to even take our orders. When the orders arrived (after an hour) they were completely wrong (fish instead of steak and the like). It took another hour for the correct dishes to arrive. He rarely showed up to take additional drink orders while we were waiting and never offered apologies or status of our orders. The time it takes an order to arrive is not usually the waiters fault, but if the kitchen is backed up and and behind, the waiter owes the customer the courtesy of a status report every once in a while and to keep the water and other beverages filled while waiting. When he got the penny, he came out with the manager and asked why since we occupied his table for over three hours. We explained the above to him and his manager and that we would have occupied his table for half the time if the service was timely.

I had a room mate in college who was a waiter and heard some horror stories from him so I make sure I tip appropriately. I also know from him that is is common practice for the tips to be pooled at the end of the night and a certain percentage of the tips are given to the chefs/cooks. That is why I tend to tip on the 20% end.

AzCat

October 25th, 2013
7:49 am

Bhorsoft, I’m curious as to what their reaction was after you explained the reasons behind the penny.

@A: Is pooling as described by Bhorsoft common? If so, I may have to readjust my thinking and start making 20% my standard.

See? You can teach an old dog new tricks! ;-)

Carl White

October 25th, 2013
1:56 pm


My philosophy when it comes to tipping is the same as Steve Martin’s character, Vincent Antonelliin, in the movie My Blue Heaven, “I don’t just believe in tipping, I believe in over-tipping”.
Tipping, like everything else in the world, falls under the you get what you pay for category.
As a single guy that eats out almost every meal I go to the same places over and over and I like having a drink waiting for me when I sit down.
I like the bartender or waiter asking me if I am going to have my usual and knowing my name.
I like my water glass constantly being refilled.
I like having my food come out before the food ordered by people that came in before me.
I like being charged the lunch price when I come in after lunch has ended.
I like being asked if I want the extra burger or appetizer they mistakenly made for free.
Bottom line, I love great service and great tipping leads to great service. Its a romantic notion to think everyone should get great service above and beyond every time they visit a restaurant but the truth is that nothing motivates service like money.
I will add there is a very close second to tipping, kindness and showing your servers as much, if not more, respect as they show you. Tips are great but never forget to thank your servers.
Another philosophy I have is that the worse the service is, the nicer I am to the server. Bad servers know they are bad and they get used to snarky comments and sarcasm. Kindness will get them busting arse for you as much as anything will.
Last but not least, if you are a bad tipper, and you know who you are, you are just cheap and you are a loser and you live a sad small life that will never get any better than it is now. They say every life is important, every life has value, not as far as I am concerned, when I am elected king of the planet (no worries, not happening), the bad tippers will be the first people I exile (I would say off with their heads but that would be mean). I hate cheap people.

art

October 26th, 2013
9:48 am

Carl White, excellent comments!!

Baltisraul......

October 26th, 2013
10:58 am

Carl White……I had my wife read your comments and she wants to give you a big hug!

ESA

October 28th, 2013
12:14 pm

I frequent a few restaurants and over tip in all of them. As a result, I frequently discover items left off my bill such as draft beer, wine by the glass, etc. My tip is generally equal to the sum of everything I was comped and 20% to 25% of the total of everything I purchased. I frequently tip more than that. Someone joked they would go back to waiting tables if they knew where such a generous tipper dined. That’s not true. Only a handful of servers in Atlanta regularly go home with $300 a night with any frequency and that’s less than $60,000 a year. So if you think someone is getting rich on your generous tipping you’re mistaken.

When I have bad service, I generally ignore the service and tip 20%. It has been decades since I worked in a restaurant and I’ve never worked for tips but that job is tough and people deserve the tip.

When I have terrible service, I complain to the manager who generally offers to comp my meal since it must have been really terrible for me to complain. I insist on getting my full bill, paying it and tipping 25% in that case. If you complain and get a free meal, the server thinks you’re just a jerk who stiffed them. If you complain, refuse a free meal when it’s offered to you and tip them generously they can’t say you were a jerk to get a free meal. Maybe they’ll realize they are the problem.

If I think the employee I’m dealing with is being paid minimum wage rather than $2.xx per hour because they are compensated on tips, I don’t tip. They took a minimum wage job. They didn’t take a job that pays tips. So I don’t feel obligated to tip them.

Valets I avoid like the plague. I tip them but I don’t feel good about it.

Finally, contrary to the writer’s statement, you can blame a server for a slow kitchen. A server has to maintain a good relationship with the kitchen to ensure that server’s customers are well taken care of. If you get a server the kitchen or bar hates, your service will suffer, your food will be slow to arrive and it’s all the server’s fault.

rebelliousrose

October 29th, 2013
8:53 am

Just by way of comment, waiters are taxed on the POST-TAX check amount, not the pre-tax. So the bill pre-tax is lower, but the server’s tipout to other employees and the govt are calculated on the total, tax-included bill.

rebelliousrose

October 29th, 2013
9:02 am

Also, AZcat, most full-service restaurants require waiters to surrender a share of their tips to other employees- commonly the bar, service assistants and food runners, generally up to 35% a night. Depending on the restaurant, the waiter may also tip the sommelier, the kitchen, and the hosts. putting in perspective- table X has a 100.00 dinner tab, including tax. They leave 20%, a relatively standard amount. After the tipout of the other staff, (I used 4.5% because that’s a fairly standard amount) the waiter is left with 15.50. They are taxed on the full amount, however.

K10

October 29th, 2013
11:16 am

Back to valet – obviously, we tip the valet when it’s complimentary, usually $2, and $5 if it’s a nasty night. What about when it’s not complimentary?

Baltisraul......

October 29th, 2013
1:11 pm

K10…..well the food is not complimentary and you tip, so I guess you tip valet service either way.

Praveen

October 29th, 2013
5:04 pm

It is not true that tipping ensures better service. If that were the case , why does the service level remain the same when you have a flat mandaory service charge for bigger groups? I have not notices the waiter working less hard despite being guaranteed a flat service charge(Of course, the party is free to tip extra, but a lot dont). Take a look at Chik Fil A. The service at most Chik Fil A’s is great. If the order is slightly delayed, they bring it to your table despite no tips. What is the incentive for the Chik Fil A employee to smile and bring your order in such a pleasant manner? ITR DPEENDS ON THE MANAGEMENT. This is why paying a better salary to the waiters would be better instead of tipping. I dont mind tipping to return back to ta time when it was meant for special service.

If your shift manager is good, then your waiters will provide good service even if all they are paid is a guaranteed salary. A restaurant can always provide bonuses per shift based on revenue brought in. In these computerized days, it is easy to get customer feedback about service on the receipt itself and then for software to tally what kind of optional items were pushed to the customer. This way, a staff member has incentive to push sales, but there is no fakeness or cutthroatness to the job.

Praveen

October 29th, 2013
5:07 pm

As far as takeout, I tip, but very reluctantly because I know the waiters get paid crap. However, I belive the restaurant should TIP OUT from the receipt to the waiters packin the order instead of relying on us. We dont get restaurant service, but the waiter is still doing work, but getting paid less than min. If the owner is the one packing the takeout, I dont tip.