Tipping- Don’t be a Cheap Jerk
Before becoming a chef, and while still in college, I waited tables. I really enjoyed it- it afforded me the opportunity to meet all kinds of people, and earn valuable cash. I worked at a TGI Fridays in California… it was constantly busy, and the money I earned working part-time was more than enough to live on, and pay for my books, and part of my tuition.
At the time (remember this was quite a few years ago) I was making an hourly wage of $2.20 an hour. After taxes, my paychecks were around $50.00 to $80.00 every two weeks.
We all worked extremely hard. For the most part, patrons were generous. There were times, however, when clueless diners refused to leave a tip on the table. The reason for this, in my opinion, was that some people just don’t understand how important tipping is. For those of you that are on the fence when it comes to leaving a few bills for your server, keep these tips in mind:
If you have $30.00 to go out and have dinner, that means you actually have $25.00 to spend on food (including tax). If you don’t have money in your budget to have a meal and leave a tip, you don’t have it in your budget to go out and eat after all. Stay home.
All of the money you leave on the table doesn’t go to the server alone. Tips are often pooled. If you tip $5.00, 10-30% of this money goes to other employees like food runners, bussers, and bartenders. These second-tier tipped helpers are often incentivized by the amount of money he/she anticipates receiving from their server.
Never Leave Change!
Leaving change on the table is demoralizing, inappropriate, and never ok. Giving a server change is like telling them that their time isn’t as important as yours. How would you like your employer/clients to pay you with change? Just don’t do it bonehead.
Really? Servers hate separate checks- it makes their jobs unnecessarily difficult. If you’re going to have a meal with your friends, plan ahead and take cash. Ok, I got off point here a bit… If you HAVE to request separate checks, make sure to add in a 20% tip for the extra aggravation and hassle it causes your server.
Go above and beyond. Have you ever had excellent service? Has your server, busboy, or bartender gone out of their way to make your dining experience exceptionable? It’s ok to leave more than 15%!
Pre Tax or Post Tax?
Always leave your tip based on the taxed portion of the bill. Yeah, that’s the larger amount, got it?
Gift Certificates and Coupons
Let’s say you have a coupon for Applebee’s (pure deliciousness) that reads, buy one entrée and get an additional entrée of equal or greater value for free. Do you tip on the value of one meal, or two? If you guessed one, you must stay home. Tip for the value of both meals, even if that amount isn’t printed on the check.
Consider Your Time at the Table
If you spend more than an hour at your table, it’s time to pony-up. Each server calculates the money they will make during their shift determined by the number of seating’s at each table. If you or your party plans on staying 2 hours, tip 30%. Three hours? 45-50%.
The Chronically Unlucky
Have you ever dined with people that are often unhappy with the service they receive? They always find a reason not to tip. These people are never happy with the food, and often leave a small amount of change on the table as they leave. The restaurant staff always remembers bad tippers when they return for a meal. These undesirables are usually seated by the bathroom or kitchen, and seldom checked on. They may even be served regular coffee when decaf is requested!
Everyone should have to work in a restaurant for a few months at some point in his or her lives. It would provide a more encompassing understanding of how hard service employees work for their money.
Next time you have a fun evening out remember to take of your server- you may just make their night.
Chef Chuck Kerber