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Sep 24, 2006 06:18 PM

Etiquette question regarding comped meal

Last night, I went to a restaurant with my husband and parents and had a fabulous Italian meal that to our surprise, was comped by the owner.
I'm assuming it's because I'm a local television reporter. Had I known that that was going to be the case, I would never have gone. Our biggest quandry is that none of us had a lot of cash on us because we were expecting to pay in a credit card. We left $100 as a gratuity. The meal itself, likely would have been about $250. Was that enough? Did we look cheap? I felt that we should have gone to the ATM and gotten more cash out or asked to charge the gratuity but my husband felt $100 was more than appropriate saying that in the Italian culture, (he's Italian-American), when someone gives you a gift (in this case, a wonderful meal) you should graciously accept it and send a heartfelt thank you note. Thoughts??

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  1. Nope, you didn't look cheap at all. It's about double the normal tip on that check!


    1. The rule of thumb that I was taught by a friend who is a chef is to double the tip on a comped meal. In your case $100 was perfect and I'm sure the server was more than happy!

      8 Replies
      1. re: geg5150

        I don't get it: what's the logic of doubling the tip if the meal is comped? Did the server(s) work twice as hard just because the owner picked up the tab? It doesn't make sense to me at all.

          1. re: yayadave

            It's a win-win. You got a free meal and you want to spread a little fairy dust to those at the resto who could probably use the extra money. It's like playing with the casino;s money in Vegas.

            1. re: jfood

              Well, I think it's just an extra way of saying thank you. Chances are that the owner or manager who provided the comp won't take a cash gratuity as your thank you. And, you probably wouldn't attempt that anyway.

              But a way to show your thanks is to tip the server a little extra. It shows your appreciation and the server will certainly pass on word of your generousity to the owner/manager.

              And, you're still getting off with paying less than you would've if you actually paid for the meal in its entirety.

              1. re: geg5150

                to be clear, the extra tip is for the waiter, absolutely not the manager. Like leaving cash on Christmas Eve, not cool.

                1. re: jfood

                  Sometimes the waiter is the one who provided the impetus for the comped meal.

                  Actually quite often it's the waiter who said something.

                  I'll always try to get meals comped for good people.

                  1. re: therealbigtasty

                    whoever is the impetus to a win-win, so be it. bigger tip is for the wait staff. :-))

                    1. re: therealbigtasty

                      "Actually quite often it's the waiter who said something."

                      I hadn't thought of this aspect of why double the standard tip.

        1. I think $100 was very nice... What were you thinking you should have given? Too much, I agree with your hubby, would have almost negated the kind gesture :-)

          1. You don't report on restaurants, I take it?

            4 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Do you ask that because as a food writer/reviewer you are not allowed to receive a comped meal? The conflict of interest thing?

              1. re: Michele4466

                Well it wouldn't matter if you weren't "on a review" at the time. And if that's a restaurant which your station needs to review at a later date, it can always send someone else.


                1. re: TexasToast

                  It actually varies by institution. I've worked at places where we can't accept anything that's worth more than $25, even if we're not working on a story that has anything to do with the giver. The publication a friend works for won't let them accept ANYthiing of monetary value. I would have turned down the free meal if I thought I was getting it because I'm a journalist (but I'm not on TV so it doesn't happen often.) I'm not judging the O.P. I just wouldn't be comfortable taking a free meal, or a free anything else. But, policies vary. I think the tip that was left was fine.

                  1. re: writergirl

                    It just sounded like the OP was given local "celeb" treatment and not to curry favor with their employer.


            2. You certainly weren't being cheap. Just doing a thank you note would have been cheap, as the waiter would be the one who gets the tip and he wasn't the one paying for your meal. When getting comped food, I would make the minimum tip 20 percent of how much the meal should have cost.