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LA Restaurant Valet Parking

Settle an argument, please. At better restaurants in LA, when the sign at the valet parking station states, for example, that the service charge is $4.50, should one tip beyond that amount, and if so, how much? A friend believes the tip is included in the service charge, but she's been getting a lot of dirty looks and door slams lately. Thanks.

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  1. Yes -- I usually do a dollar on top of that for normal places or places I know I'll never go again, and two dollars for really nice places.

    1. The service charges goes towards the rental of the lot the restaurant uses to park your car. Not necessarily all to the valet. Please tip! :)

      --Dommy!

      1. A dollar at least, sometimes two (depends on valet charge & service). I personally avoid valet at all times and opt for street or self-parking (using it only when I'm late). Then again, I own a 2000 somewhat-beat-up Corolla.

        PS I have a feeling that this will be moved to another board by the CH team.

        1. I always tip after I get my car, but when you think about it, the time to tip is when you drop it off.

          They're driving your car for cryin out loud. In my case, a truck that's tough to park. I don't want no dings or dents ... I'm thinking of tipping in advance from now on, just so they take care of the wheels.

          1. Tip 10-15% of the posted service charge.

            That being said, as a former valet, I NEVER valet my car.

            6 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Definitely tip on top of the service charge -- usually the service charge is either paying for the valet company's services (but not the valets), or for places like the Third Street Promenade, for the $3 service charge in the parking lots that you can use your own self.

                I try not to valet; my rule is look for parking for 15 minutes before valet parking, unless I know it's going to be impossible (Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, anyone?)

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Frankly, I think it's damn near impossible to find street parking anywhere near a decent restaurant in LA. I live in on the Wstside and my neighborhood luncheonette/diner Rob & Mary's on Westwood Blvd. offers valet at night. It's a very good little place place, BTW.

                  1. re: Hunter

                    Well, if it's a place you go to regularly-- it may be worth it to show up about 1/2 hour early one of those days and stake out any street parking spots nearby (and I'd say 98% of places do have street/public self-parking that's within walking distance).

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  I'm with you! I NEVER valet park my car. If I'm going to dinner in Los Angeles (and I live here), I stay nearby and cab it to dinner. Not using the valet is based on several bad experiences, once where the valet couldn't put the car into gear. I could hear the gears grinding inside the restaurant. If you're gonna be a valet, please learn how to drive a stick. That's all.

                3. Yes, a tip is expected on top of the service charge. As Dommy notes, the service charge goes to the owner of the lot/valet service and is not a tip. I typically round up to the nearest dollar above 50 cents, so for a $4.50 charge, I'd leave $6.

                  I understand providing a valet service for a restaurant that either doesn't have a parking lot, or has a small lot that requires double parking the cars, but don't even get me started on restaurants that have their own parking lots with plenty of space that require you to pay a valet service charge anyhow! I find this to be a uniquely Los Angeles experience, and it really makes me mad. In such instances, I will try to street park if at all possible.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DanaB

                    Having a little trouble understanding your point in the last paragraph.

                    Imagine a restaurant that doesn't have a parking lot, so they hire a valey service. The valet charges $10 per car (let's ignore tips, or assume that the $10 includes a tip - it doesn't matter for my thought experiment). We're ok with paying for this.

                    Now suppose the restaurant has the opportunity to buy the lot adjacent to the restaurant, which just so happens to be a nice parking lot. The restaurant could (a) not buy the parking lot, and continue to offer a valet service for $10, or (b) buy the lot, and charge customers, say, $5 to use it.

                    Everyone is better off with option (b), it seems. The restaurant owner raises money to pay for the lot, and perhaps makes a little extra money on top of it. The customers can park next to the restaurant and save $5 compared to the cost of the valet. What's there to argue with?

                    The point I'm getting at is that owning the land for a parking lot isn't free. If patrons aren't paying an explicit fee to park, they are paying for it in terms of higher food prices. I don't see any difference between this, and a restaurant charging a higher mark-up on wine because they choose to serve it in fine glassware.

                  2. Valet parking is de rigueur in Koreatown, where it's normally only $1 or 2, depending on the restaurants/cafes in the area, plus tip. I have a feeling the valets don't really expect tips to be greater than a dollar, so they'll keep any larger bills ($5 and the like). All the parking lots are pretty much double or triple-parked, depending on the popularity of the establishments in the strip malls. I very rarely manage to find street parking since the areas are also pretty residential.

                    1. If the charge is 4 bucks its one thing. In SF the charge can easily be $10 or $20. Is tipping still mandatory?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chris Rising

                        Again, your $10 or $20 goes to pay the valet COMPANY, not the valet himself (or herself), and often most of that is because the valet company has to pay for parking. So yes, it's still as mandatory as it would be if it's $4.

                        Valet parking can be $30 or more in WeHo, BTW.

                      2. If a valet slammed my door, I'd be in the manager's field of vision within seconds.

                        1. Valet in L.A.? Tip according to the car your driving! Not to be confused with the car you really own. We're talking L.A., babe.

                          Here's your guide:

                          Ugly cars - $3.00
                          New but still ugly - $4.00

                          Exotics, luxury, specialty - $10.00

                          Limousine - tip anyway. Not only will you feel good about it but you'll look like Sinatra when slipping a few dollars over the kid's way.

                          Finally, stop being cheap, you're getting talked about everytime you drive away and stiff these kids who run for your car!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: TheDexter

                            Who cares if you're getting talked about?

                            If you're tipping more so your fancy car gets better care, fine... but tipping more just because it IS a fancy car sounds like a bad idea.

                            You might have been watching too much L.A. Story lately...

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Bottom line, people running around finding your car...it isn't a hobby for them, it's a service. Pay over and above what the establishment is taking you for.

                          2. You get what you pay for. I was running late for a restaurant event in L.A. once and all the Bently's and Hummers were parked out front (as usual). I was told that I'd need to park somewhere else. But then I flashed my wallet and what do you know, my crappy rental was parked right out front with all the big boy's toys!

                            TT