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How Much to Tip a Caterer?

b
boltnut55 Sep 7, 2007 05:04 PM

I don't think I asked this yet, but the event is coming up soon. It's at my house. The total bill will be about $235, after tax. No drinks, just dinner and dessert. There is a delivery charge of $20. It's on a Saturday night. There will be two people who will come and set up then at the right time come back and tear down. They will not remain. They don't wash dishes. They just take their stuff back, although I think they will move the food from their dishes into ours if there are leftover. The set up and tear down takes about 20 minutes total.

Do I tip 10%? Do I tip 15%? Yes, it's only a $10 difference, but I'd still like to know since I have to explain this to someone else who is paying for part of the bill - she has three kids and is on one small income, so it will make a difference, since my catering idea is costing her more money that she had originally wanted to pay. My inclination is to give them two $10 bills for them to split. Normally, I would tip the 15%, except they didn't really serve me personally.

Thanks for your input.

  1. v
    veeva Sep 7, 2007 05:36 PM

    When I hosted a catered affair awhile back I asked around, people in the business and people who use caterers. The consensus was 15-20% the cost of the food.

    1. woodburner Sep 7, 2007 08:12 PM

      It's a curious thing, if you think about it. You didn't say how many people are being fed, or what kind of food is involved (a couple of trays of pasta is different that hand-made apps and a meal of beef, chicken or fish and real sides). I ask because $235 is really a tiny bill... don't know where you're located, but I couldn't engage anyone for anything here in suburbs of NY. It must be a very small party. Are they the caterers, or are they staff, serving someone else's food. Again, if the latter, then they aren't making anything here... even if they are the caterer. There's food cost... what... $50? 80? If there are two people or three people involved, really, very little money being made by anyone. So they drop off, then they pick up. When you think about it, they are gonna sit around, probably in the car, in between... they ain't gonna go to the movies. What I'm saying is that they (the servers) will invest 3+ hours in this... and be paid maybe 50 each. I'm not trying to rant on anyone at all... it's a good deal for you, I suspect, just to respond to the question. If the food is good, and they are professional and pleasant and seem to care about serving you good food, I'd probably give them 20 each.

      Yeah, I do this sort of thing, so I feel their pain :-)

      1. b
        boltnut55 Sep 7, 2007 10:02 PM

        OK - more info. This is a local caterer, in business for many years. My "event" is a birthday party (2 of our birthdays) and we're treating our immediate families... FIL, MIL, various sibling families, total of 10 adults, 3 kids (10-15 year olds) and an infant, who's not yet eating. It'll be at my house. Two well dressed young men comes in, sets everything up on my dining room table and leaves. I think they aren't sitting around somewhere waiting for me but are then going to other events to do the same. I don't know who they are... they could be assisting in the kitchen and now have dressed up for delivery, they could be the sons of the owner, but they're too young to be the actual caterer. The delivery fee is $20 (flat fee).

        Yes, this place has very good prices, especially in our area. The food is quite good as well. Thanks for any additional input.

        1 Reply
        1. re: boltnut55
          jnstarla Sep 8, 2007 07:06 AM

          Typically when I did catering for the restaurant I worked at, most customers would give us $20 to $40 per person as a tip.

          Since this is not serving, just set up and pick up, I would say about $20 per guy is reasonable. That works out to a bit more than 15% on the cost of food. The delivery charge will not go to the guys who set up, I would bet money on it.

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