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Etiquette for tipping on take out orders?

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In New York City, most every restaurant will do take out orders. I'm never sure what the etiquette is for tipping when my order is ready, especially when I pay with a credit card and there's the line for gratuity. I always tip something (it's a NYC thing), but never know what the proper percentage should be. If I'm picking up a pizza order or cheap asian, I usually just take my food and go. But at higher end places, the bill can be $30 or more per person. How do you handle it?

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  1. i've wondered that too! in fact i generally leave nothing, i didn't know it was an nyc thing to do so. i tip well on meals and what i think is quite well for delivery, but i wasn't sure if tipping applied to take out. the odd time i've left it's been if someone there had gotten me a glass of water or something while i wait for my food.

    1. there was a very long discussion about this on this board last week that you might find helpful.

      (control f - to search for topics)


      1. Disclaimer: despite my post below, I am NOT a cheap person -- I generally tip very, very well, usually 20%, and I used to be a waiter so I am fully aware of the importance of tips.

        But I don't tip for takeout, especially in those stupid "college fund/tips greatly appreciated" jars. The only exception is if I sit at a bar and eat peanuts and drink something -- I tip on the bar tab.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          same situation - same advice

          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            If you sit at the bar and eat peanuts and drink something, you're tipping the bartender. So don't fool yourself into thinking you're tipping on takeout!

          2. For takeout in DC and Phila., I'll leave a couple of dollars, maybe three if it's a bigger order and requires more complicated packaging. But I only do this as an appreciative gesture--you don't have to tip on takeout.

            If I have a drink while I'm waiting for my order, I will tip about five bucks.

            For pizza, coffee takeout, etc., it's nice to put a dollar in the tip cup.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gina

              Your tip on takeout should reflect the order. If it's pizza, then there's no prep required by the TO person. If it's dinners, sandwiches, etc, you might want to consider tipping at least 10% of the order, with a minimum of $2.

            2. What about coffee? I go to a place where they basically hand you a cup and you pour your own - they have a tip jar and for some reason I feel really guilty not leaving something (although I feel a tip is definitely not waranted).

              4 Replies
              1. re: KenOnDean

                Please do not feel guilty for not tipping on pouring your own coffee.

                I tip a dollar for my coffee just because I like my baristas, and I appreciate how well they make triple-skim-light-foam-half-caff-mocha lattes!

                (Just kidding, I don't order those.)

                1. re: gina

                  I have to agree... a tip for your barista now and then is a nice thing, particularly if you order complicated drinks, and especially if you have weird order requests.

                  That said, I don't buy fancy coffee very often, and thus my few visits to a coffee house usually involve an order of "double espresso, please."

                2. re: KenOnDean

                  "...I feel really guilty..."

                  Don't. You're in charge of your emotions, not the other way around.

                  1. re: Karl S

                    Only when I take my medication. . .

                3. Someone really needs to help me see how it is appropriate to tip a server who welcomes me, takes my order (not a place where menu explanations are necessary or recommendations needed), sees that my order has been delivered to my table properly, checks back a few times during the meal, brings me a check, then my change.............. but it is NOT necessary to tip a server who does ALL of the above EXCEPT for the checking back part. If you order take-out from a sit-down restaurant someone is doing all of that for you. How is it different???

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Midlife

                    Well, no clearing of the table or dishes to be washed, or wine glasses/silverware to be polished. You're generally not taking up a table for substantial time either.

                    1. re: julesrules

                      I see where you're headed, but my point is relative to the server, mostly, though I do understand they have less side work in this case. And the amount I tip for take-out is usually 8-10%, so I'm basing that on a degree of reduced time and service received. I just don't agree with posters who conclude that NO TIP is 'appropriate' for take-out at a sit-down restaurant.

                      1. re: Midlife

                        I always tip, regardless of whether it is a sit-down restaurant or a take out place. I can afford it and the servers/order takers aren't paid that much in the first place and can use and appreciate it.

                      2. re: julesrules

                        The take out person generally backs up the servers also, making sure they have the supplies they need in the back, and helping carry if necessary. As for the clearing of the tables and washing of the dishes, how is the server involved in those tasks? Most restaurants have bus people and dishwashers!

                        1. re: TakeOutQueen1

                          Some restaurants have buspersons,, I don't know that I'd say most. BUT, servers have to tip out (share their tips) with the busperson who services their station. In most states the busperson is allowed to be paid the subminimum service minimum wage because it is expected that they share in the diners' tips.
                          My daughter is a server while in grad school. Yesterday, a slow Tuesday, she worked 11:30-8:30. She made $160 gross in tips and had to tip out $40. $30 to a busboy and $10 to a barback. There was not much alcohol sold, and the busboy only worked 12-2 and 6-8. She had to clear during the other hours =, as well as set tables. Server's sidework includes wiping down all clean flatware with cloths to eliminate water spots and wrapping in the banded napkins. Health code doesn't permit exposed flatware to be preset on the tables.

                    2. I'll add a $1-2 or so at places I'm a regular at and have repeatedly received quick, friendly service at. I might not tip the first time. It depends. I don't go to starbucks, etc. and I wouldn't tip if I did. I'm not tipping you for pouring my tea into a cup. I'm just not.

                      With that said - I grew up in the service industry. I was rarely, if ever, tipped for carry out orders. I never thought to even leave out a tip jar out from the ages of 14-18 when I was scooping ice cream at a soda shop/diner in the mid/late 90s. This whole tipping culture is getting so out of control. It was considered to be in poor taste at one point to put out a tip jar, now they're every where. I'm a bit over tipping people for doing what is in their job description. If they want to go above and beyond what is in their job description in a carry out type situation, I'll probably tip you.

                      I'm a solid 20% in dining in situations. I've tipped less than that twice in my life due to horrible service and I'm extremely forgiving.