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Restaurant Tipping Matters

Ian Miller, Staff

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Ten years ago, the standard and acceptable tip for good service was 15%.  As times have changed, YOU ARE EXPECTED TO TIP 20%.  

Here are a few guidelines and reasons why: 

1.) Restaurants are only federally required to pay $2.13 per hour to their front of the house staff (bussers, food runners, waiters, and bartenders) if their total income (tips + hourly) averages above minimum wage (Maryland is $9.25). That is nothing. Servers retain almost all of their income from tips. This is very important to remember because the tip you are giving effects how much your servers have in the bank to feed their children, pay for an education, pay their taxes, and other dire expenses. 

2.) Most restaurants now pool their tips. This means that all tips received are put together and then distributed among the wait staff at the end of the night depending on position, experience, etc.  This has been instituted to keep tip checks consistent; inconsistent pay makes it very difficult to budget expenses. The bottom line is that in this day and age your tip affects every single waiter, food runner, and busser working in the restaurant, not just the waiter at your table. 

3.) Most waiters consider anything south of 15% a BAD tip and 16% through 19% a mediocre or even good tip (some lower quality chain restaurants like the Golden Coral). Remember: Bad tips are outliers. If you plan on returning to restaurant after giving a bad tip, there is a chance you will be remembered by the wait staff. Once you establish a reputation as a bad tipper, you will not receive the same respect from your servers. 

4.) If you have legitimate problems with the service (spilled liquid on you, messed up orders, rudeness, etc.) it’s ok–obviously the server will be mad–to leave 11-14%. However, 10% and below is a spit in the face. Remember these are human beings with expenses just like you. 

5.) The only thing that should affect a tip is the wait staffIf your food doesn’t come out in a timely fashion or is low quality, this is the kitchen’s fault (who get paid hourly and ARE NOT included in the tip pool). If you request changes to your dish, and your plate doesn’t match your requests, chances are it’s the kitchen’s fault. If your dish is entirely incorrect, it’s a 50/50 chance it was your waiter’s fault. Assume it’s not unless you KNOW it was the waiter.  

6.) It’s important to remember that wait staffs in all restaurants are operating within restraints provided by the restaurant they work for. They have no control over menu items, silverware, table settings, rules, and policies. It’s easy to get aggravated with a waiter over these things and take out your anger on the tip. This is completely unfair to the server. 

7.) An expense bill is not an excuse to tip poorly. If you can’t afford the restaurant: DON”T EAT THERE. 

 

Bottom Line: Servers are people too and should be treated as such. Never forget: They depend on your tips to make a living, so your tip directly effects their wellbeing. 

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Restaurant Tipping Matters