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pick-up catering--do you tip?

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We're ordering a few platters from a local gourmet store because we're hosting a graduation brunch on Monday morning. But, we're picking it up from the store and serving it ourselves. I'm wondering what the tipping etiquette is in this situation? We're already paying a fee to have the food plated so that it's ready to serve, but if a tip is still required, I'd like to know. If they were coming to our house and serving the food, then a tip would be obvious, but I'm unsure in this situation.

Thanks so much for your help!

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  1. If I pick up take-out from a restaurant, I tip just a little bit - more of a gesture really - so I'd go with that logic..... but then again, I never really thought about it before...

    1. My take is this: if the employee who helps you when you go to the store to pick it up provides excellent service or just helps you out a lot (ie, helping carry to the car, etc) then a tip would be appropriate. Otherwise, I don't think a tip would be required under etiquette rules.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ccbweb

        I agree with ccbweb. The amount you paid for the food included the service already, which is the food being plated and ready to serve. If an individual gives you an additional service above and beyond that, such as helping you carry them to the car then I'd tip a nominal amount, say $5.

        1. re: ccbweb

          Well, I would ask myself, did I get good service, when I planned the menu, when I made arrangements, was I pleased, helped, do I wanna use the service again? Based on those questions and answers, I would decide to tip or not. But then, I believe in karma and what you do comes back to you...

        2. If the person who helps you is a waiter/waitress, bartender or anyone whose income is based on tips, then I certainly would tip them. If the person helping you owns the place or something then I certainly wouldn't tip.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Clarkafella

            I am of the mind, tipping, even if just a little NEVER hurts, not tipping marks you. I err toward the good, when I can.

            1. re: Clarkafella

              That's a great point, Clarkafella. Since the OP said from a gourmet grocery store, it didn't occur to me that it might be the sort of operation that employs people who make some of their income from tips. If that is the case, then I would tip. If, however, its a grocery that does catering/platters on the side, then as I noted, I'd only think a tip required in the face of truly exceptional service.

              Of course, Quine is also correct: it never hurts and karma is good.

            2. Amazed at all the different examples. Definitely I would tip if they brought food to my house and set up. I don't tip when I pick up food for take out even if my friends do (I've recently had this happen), so I'm guessing I wouldn't have tipped in your situation either, but it sounds like I'm in the minority.

              So for catering that is brought to your home, how much do you tip? In my one case, they came at the right time to set up beautifully on my dining room table, and then they left. Then they returned at the set time to take everything back. I helped put the extra food in our containers. I want to use them again, so I need to make sure I tip correctly! I think I tipped about 10% last time with the thought that being served would be 15%. It took about 15 minutes to put everything up and about the same to tear down. Thanks.

              1 Reply
              1. re: boltnut55

                For things like this, I tend to not worry so much about percentages and instead think about a fixed amount to give each person. For what you describe, $10 or $20 (if they were really excellent) each seems like it would be a good amount. Percentages of a catering bill could get into a huge "tip" pretty quickly and doesn't make as much sense to me as tipping a percentage of a restaurant tab. (Note, this is just for the situation you describe...if they stayed the whole time and served the food, cleaned everything up, etc then a much larger tip would be in order and a percentage of the total might make sense.)