Restaurant Tips

by Claire Valenty on April 8, 2010

in Tipping

tipping restaurant etiquette

From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every single waiter out there. Not only do they make minimum wage, but, they work crazy hours, they are always on call AND they have to put up with rude and demanding diners. But, you may say, that is why we pay so much to eat out in restaurants: to be waited on and taken care of. Yes, that is true, but, trust me; those waiters are certainly not paid enough to do so! That is where restaurant tipping comes into play. Restaurant tips not only reward those servers who do an excellent job and ensure that your order comes out fast, hot (when appropriate!) and exactly the way you want it, but, waiter tips also weed out those who are slow, forgetful and have bad attitudes; if they do not get big tips, they simply can not afford to work at that restaurant anymore. Great news for you – keep those good servers employed!

When tipping your waiter, if they did a basic job (they were pleasant, did not engage too much, brought out your correct order), then a 10% tip will do. However, we expect more from our waiters, and, therefore, they usually have to meet the 15% tip mark for us to be truly happy with the experience. This means they seemed really pleased to serve us and make our dining experience with them enjoyable. They engaged in light banter, checked on you regularly and generally made sure you were happy with everything. Sometimes, though, as with any service profession, there are those that go beyond the call of duty. These are the waiters and waitresses that organize a special dish per your request with the kitchen, make sure it comes out exactly how you want it and they don’t charge you. These are the people that entertain your children and sometimes throw in a free dessert just because they want to bring that extra joy to your dining experience. These people stand out above the rest and you will definitely know who they are. They deserve at least a 20% tip.

Think about it: when you have had a bad day, it is incredibly hard to plaster a smile on your face and bear through it all. With waiters, even after hours of serving folks who complain because their soup is too cold, their meal took too long or the air conditioning is turned on too high (all things out of the waiters control), they not only keep that smile on their faces, but, the genuinely seem to still care. They are amazing people and definitely worth that tip to keep them at your favorite restaurant!

What are some examples of good and bad wait service you have received?

Photo: stock.xchng/Karl-Erik Bennion

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra December 8, 2011 at 11:10 pm

I am a server at one of the best restaurants in Cincinnati right now. I was a server for 3 years at the only Mobil 4 star restaurant in the region. And I’m here to tell you that you are out of your mind. I feel incredibly sorry for any server that would have the misfortune to wait on you.

In fact, you are the definition of the type of guest most waiters cannot stand. What makes you think it is okay to walk into a restaurant and expect the kitchen to drop everything it’s doing to create a special dish for you? If you want a special dish, make it at home. And where did this “free dessert” fad come from? Dessert cost money. Nothing drives me crazier than when someone comes in for their birthday expecting a “free dessert.” Do you walk into a boutique on your birthday and expect a free handbag? Do you walk into your hair salon and expect a free trim? GET OVER YOURSELF. I’d be happy to stick a free candle in your dessert if you so choose to order and pay for one. Candles that also cost money.

Don’t act like you know anything about what it is like to be a server. You obviously do not. A Ten percent tip is never appropriate. Especially for “basic service.” Servers get paid less than minimum wage because they are tipped employees. You should not tip anything less than (20% from a server’s perspective) –18% to be fair, is appropriate for “basic service” and on up from there.

You don’t know what it is like to go to the kitchen with special requests for dishes. They hate it. We hate it. And if your server gives you a free dessert, you probably shouldn’t eat it after the special requests and expectations and past experiences of 10% tips — who knows what they did to it before they brought it out to you!

Stop with your verbal tip: Servers are so great! They had a bad day and they have this smile on their face! SHUT UP AND SHOW US THE MONEY!

Please take down/update this old-fashioned and inappropriate article.

Thank you.

Karen January 1, 2015 at 4:39 am

Wow! I’m sure glad I don’t live in Cincinnati where Alexandra works. Although she was right about some things, I think she went overboard when she said “shut up and show us the money”. Please, Alexandra, go back to school so you can get a better job and stop subjecting the public to your attitude.

And now for my question. When eating out do you calculate the waiter’s tip only on the food portion of the bill or do you calculate it on food portion plus the drinks the waiter brought from the bar? If you tip the waiter on the food portion only, should you tip the bartender separately? My husband was a bartender and insists that you should only tip the waiter on the food portion of the bill and that you are free to either tip or not tip the bartender. Do the waiters usually split tips with the bartenders? What is the proper thing to do?

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