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Take out Tipping

last night I went to pick up some take-out sushi at the last minute - 6 california rolls - and the total was just over $30. I added a $5 dollar tip. The place was busy but the cashier made a point of making me feel that my order was just as important as those who were sitting at the sushi counter ordering various items and consuming alcohol. Was $5 enough, should I have made it $6 (20%)? I just happened to have a five-dollar bill in my wallet.

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  1. Forget that it's take-out. Any restaurant employee who would implicitly criticize a patron for leaving a 17% tip--even for table service--should be shown the door.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tubman

      I think he is saying that the cashier provided good service.

    2. I'll tackle this and then duck.

      I don't know that I would assume, from your post (as I think tubman has), that the cashier was critical of your tip...... if I'm wrong.....sorry. I'd agree if that were the case. Otherwise I'd say 17% is fine, if not actually generous.

      You will find endless posts here on the subject of tipping for take-out. Just try searching for "take-out tip" or similar wording. My impression is that there is a very wide range of feelings about this, with extremes from "I NEVER tip for take-out" to "I ALWAYS tip well for take-out". There are provisos within most opinions that have to do with whether or not the resto is 'primarily' sit-down, if you are a 'regular', just how much work the person you might tip had to do with your order, whether or not take-out tips are shared with the kitchen, ad infiitum.

      As an example - I just read a post about an LA deli pastrami sandwich where a poster was commenting on the price and matter-of-factly included the comment "for take-out... (so no gratuity)". The point of the post was that the take-out version of the sandwich they received had very little meat in it (this is a deli known for decent-sized portions). There's no way to know whether staff might skimp on take-outs because they don't often have to deal witn the result or because they don't get tipped. You do have to wonder though.

      My own feeling is that take-out from a sit-down restaurant deserves a tip (10% or so, in my opinion) because a 'server' (or someone, anyway) is putting in an order, picking it up and probably packing it to go, and presumably making sure you got what you ordered. There is no table service, so I don't believe a 'full' tip is in order. AND I DO tend to tip more if it's place I frequent, and especially if I am also a sit-down customer. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Midlife

        I hope I didn't imply that the service was not good, it was. Normally I don't think about tipping for take out (especialy a fast food chain), but this is primarily a sit down and eat place that does some take-out. They were very busy - and a little short staffed. I was impressed that they took my order and filled it promptly, just as they would have if I was sitting at the sushi bar watching. It impressed me, so I left a tip. Since I generally don't, It made me think about how much was apprpriate. My first thought was 10% - half a normal tip, but since I had the 5 in my wallet (and no singles), I just handed it to the cashier and told him thanks for the great service.

        Thanks for the feedback.

        ps: it was Zippy's at Kahala, which has surprisingly good sushi. Most of the Zippy's don't do sushi, only Kahala and Pearl City.

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          I still reeling from the " 6 california rolls - and the total was just over $30." At a sushi restaurant!! Wow, how reasonable.

      2. I think $5 on a $30 take out tab is a perfectly nice tip. I also think that with cash, sometimes, tips go slightly up or down based on how the bills fall. Within in a small range of amounts, I think thats OK. For instance, if it had been a $20 total and you had a $5 bill...the tip would have very likely have been $5.

        The important thing is, you tipped!

        4 Replies
        1. re: ccbweb

          At most sit-down restaurants where you pay the server, the bartender normally takes to go orders. These orders are included in the bartender's sales, which he or she has to pay taxes on that come out of his or her check (these taxes are on top of any state and federal taxes). He or she has to go back into the kitchen to box up your food, away from his regular customers, and then run your credit card. Some amount of a tip in such cases is in order and would be much appreciated, as otherwise the bartender would essentially be paying to wait on you through the taxes on your order total.

          1. re: diva360

            Actually, every place I've ever worked had a ring-up button that lets the kitchen know it is a To Go order. Those are not included in the bartender's sales at the end of the night, the kitchen does the boxing, and the bartender adds whatever condiments or plasticware needed.

            That being said, I tip a couple bucks for takeout at a sit down place.

            1. re: mojoeater

              Thanks for that update mojo. I have only worked at one restaurant for one summer since nine years ago when I started grad school, and many of those restaurants had touch screen systems but no button to tell the kitchen "to go." Glad to know they've been updated so bartenders aren't driven crazy by to go orders when they're slammed. But I've never worked at a kitchen that would do the boxing. When I bartended the restaurant still used a POS system, so take out orders were part of my total sales.

              1. re: mojoeater

                I've worked places where those rung-in to gos are included in the bar's sales; the button simply asks the kitchen to pack the order, which they do. I think the who-pays-the-tax policy is determined by management/owners -- and many of my former bosses have been all too unethical. To be safe, I always tip about 15% on takeout (I'm a 20+er on eat-in).

          2. Yeah, I misread it--I thought "making me feel that my order was just as important" meant the cashier was hinting your tip was inadequate. The 17% you left probably puts you in the top third of carryout tippers (lots of 0% and 10% carryout tippers out there), frankly I couldn't figure out why you were writing unless someone had said something to you.

            I usually start at 15% for carryout and round the whole thing up to the next dollar. That extra 50ยข or so works out to an extra 2% on a $25 carryout order, so I guess I'm usually around 17%, too. I suppose I'd go higher if they did something exceptional, but I can't figure out what that would ever be on a carryout order. Carryout doesn't have to be patient dealing with my kids like a waiter would.

            1. I think the $5 tip was just fine and appropriate!! I think it was also appreciated by the cashier!