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So, Even if You Eat Out, Are You Tipping Less?

MY DD, the gorgeous bartender and sometime waitperson reports that tips have shrunk of late. She's lucky to get 10 per cent these days ... is that a trend, or an anomaly? She's located in a touristy type area, and while folks are dining out, they seem to be skimping on the back end. So, are you tipping less to save a few bucks? (We're not counting the family that asks for extra lemons so they can make their own lemonade from free sugar and the those lemons ...)

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  1. I'm not tipping any less. But now that you mention it, I think I will. This would be a refreshing trend. 10% or even less would be nice.

    1. Nope - still tipping exactly as before, though we're not eating out as much, or at the higher-end places.

      It's rather upsetting that someone would think that the economy somehow lessens the value of the service provided by server.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ElsieDee

        Nope. 20%, 25% and more, depending on the service.

        Servers have one of the hardest jobs in the world, they deserve it.

      2. Not reducing the tip at all. The touristy type are may be a factor....people trying to cut corners on vacation (something I can't wrap my mind around, but many people do).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          I agree - I can't imagine tipping less - I'd eat somewhere less expensive, instead.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Totally agree with you about eating somewhere less expensive if you're feeling the financial crunch -- a much more reasonable solution than tipping less.

        2. Probably eating out less, but not tipping out less at all. Typical tip for dinner, or drinks is at least 20%.

          1. Great subject! I think we're actually tipping more now that I think about it. I assume they (servers) are feeling the economy more because people are eating out less. Even when I have subs/salads delivered - I'm tipping more. I'm not a big spender when it comes to "things" but with food and service, I am. I like the idea that we may have put a smile on the servers face and brightened their day or night.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lexpatti

              What a nice sentiment, lexpatti. Good for you.

            2. 20% pre-tax for acceptable service, 20+% post-tax for very good service. Same as before.

              1. Tipping the same percent but in some places prices have gone up considerably so the tip itself is higher. I tip more for delivery, though.

                1. I used to be an over-tipper, but i've had to restrain myself lately. I try to keep it around 20% unless the service is just super, super outstanding. Plus, i got married last year and my husband is kind of a tightwad and has given me a hard time about my overtipping.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: iluvtennis

                    i tip the same as always

                    iluv - give your hubby a hard time about his tightwaddery instead

                    1. re: thew

                      Not wanting to OVERtip (i.e. more than 20% for normal, but not outstanding, service) is not the same as being a tightwad.

                      1. re: Neely_Ohara

                        she described her hubby as a tightwad, not me

                    2. re: iluvtennis

                      I understand your pain...my first husband was a tightwad (not when it came to tipping as he waited tables throughout HS and college). After that any signs of frugality were a deal breaker for me.

                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                        Years ago, dated the 'perfect guy' and when it came down to the tip, he threw down 10%..broke it off that night..don't want to date some cheap ass!

                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          No cheap ass here!
                          I tip between 20-30%

                    3. Nope, same tip, 25% of total tab. If I can still afford to go out then I can still afford to tip...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Spiritchaser

                        i totally agree.if you feel the need to tip less beacuse of the economy,you shouldn't be eating out.after all,it's not like the servers are doing less for you.

                      2. We are eating out less and getting more takeout, but not tipping any less when we do dine out (usually 20% post-tax if it's good service).

                        1. I am tipping a little more because I suspect businesses are feeling this economic crunch. But this may be a bit "preaching to the choir". I suspect Chowhounders are more sensitive to the tipping issue, and tend to tip more generously.

                          I am sure there are tonnes of people out there who are not quite as sensitive to this issue, and they are also feeling the pinch. I suspect there are many who are tipping less.

                          It is a no-win situation. The economic situation is what it is. So either you have people who eat out less but continue to tip well when they go out, or people who go out just as much but in order to do so feel the need to tip less. But at least they are still going out and spending. Either way, the whole industry is seeing less revenue in general.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: moh

                            But in theory the business itself shouldn't have any access to the tip, which is distributed between servers and possibly kitchen staff. Tipping more will have negligible impact on the wellbeing of the business and owners itself.

                            1. re: Blueicus

                              Management/Ownership should NEVER have a part in the tip split -- but in corporate restaurants they often do. It's not right, but there you have it. Kitchen staff almost never have any play when it comes to tips, no matter how hard they work. That never struck me as fair, but I came from the back of the house.

                              Most servers tip out 10% of their tip take to the bartender and the bussers. And it's well worth it. Those people work hard too.

                              But you're not correct in saying that tips have no impact on the business itself. Waitstaff who are working in restaurants where they are paid minimum wage (now down to $2.13 an hour as of July 24, 2008) aren't even making enough to pay their taxes on declared tips (for corporate restaurants, they figure that your tip total is at least 15% of your check total, no matter what you actually took in.) The people I know working in those places often receive negative checks -- and that was before the minimum wage went from $2.83 to $2.13. So if you tip less than 15%, you may be costing your server money.

                              1. re: chefbeth

                                Half the places I've worked at tip the back of the house. Unfortunately it amounted to approximately a dollar an hour more. Oh well.

                                When I say it has negligible impact on the wellbeing of the business I mean on general profit margins and on the end financial statements... the owners don't generally bag a majority of that money (with the exceptions you described).

                          2. Nope, no change, still 20% as a baseline, more for outstanding service.

                            But the question reminds me of that interchange from Fiddler on the Roof, where the beggar says to the rich guy. "Every week you give me two kopecks, this week you only gave me one. How come?"
                            Rich guy: "I had a bad week"
                            Beggar: "Just because you had a bad week, why should I suffer?"

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: BobB

                              What do servers get paid/hour in the U.S.?
                              Do tips get pooled and split between servers, bussers, managers, hosts/esses or kitchen?
                              Do they get benefits ie. pension contributions, health care etc.?

                              1. re: garlicandwingnut

                                fed min for servers is $2.83/hr. Some states and some cities have higher minimums for tipped employees. I've seen lots of posters from the pac-nw--oregon, cali, say that the pay is higher for servers there.

                                Pooling nearly always happens to some degree--almost all servers tip out at least to bussers and bartenders. Some places split between everyone, some just tip out individually. Tipping out to managers and hosts is more rare than bussers, etc, but happens. Tipping out to kitchen is extremely rare. In my experience, tip outs have usually been b/t 25-35% of nightly gross tips.

                                Very, very, very few restaurants give any sort of benefits like you mention--maybe 2%, maybe as much as 5%, but that seems unlikely. In most places you earn what you earn and your 'benefits' might be staff meal (though sometimes money comes out of your check for that) or a discount if you order food.

                                1. re: nc213

                                  Thanks nc.

                                  In Europe the price on the menu is what you pay, so tax and tip are included and it is fairly normal but not obligatory to leave a bit of pocket change (a buck or less) on the table so that at the end of the night the server if he/she was busy has some change for a beer or two.

                                  At the end of the week the server gets a cheque for the hourly wage (around $10/hour) plus the service of about 15% minus about 25% tip out. Because this is all on the books total earnings are subject to taxes etc. They are covered by medical insurance, pension and unemployment insurance. So, if they are good and work in a top resto they get a pretty good paycheck and quite a bit of beer money.

                                  In Canada servers get around $8/hour plus total medical insurance, pension contribution, unemployment insurance and tips (prob. 12-15% avg.) which the server is supposed to declare for income tax purposes. I am fairly certain that not all servers are completely scrupulous in this area but the smart ones declare enough to max out their pension and unemployment income for both the free saving plan and the maternity/paternity leave benefits among other things though the most valuable benefit is the health insurance.

                                  If you have been paying attention you will realize that in Canada and Europe, servers are paid a decent minimum plus full benefits and beer money. In fact it looks like the benefits alone are worth more than the minimum servers wage.

                                  So, the U.S. is a capitalist's dream. Servers work for almost nothing but the tips they earn which allows the resto to sell at artficially low prices.

                                  There are several interesting implications to these 3 models. Most importantly think about the link between cheap crappy food and obesity.

                                  By the way I always tip 20% and sometimes more if the server really has to kick kitchen ass!

                                  1. re: nc213

                                    I know this is an old thread (and I don't mean to open it up again), but this is incorrect information. $2.83 is not the federal server minimum. Servers in my state (MA) are paid $2.63 and, in other states, even less.

                              2. Nah. If it comes to that, I would eat in more or eat in less expensive places. Or I'd see if there are other areas in my life where I could cut down expenses.

                                1. Nope, not tipping less - but we're hardly eating out anymore. Maybe once every six weeks or so, if that much.

                                  1. As a server, my findings are pretty much what you all here have described. We are seeing regulars less regularly, but they are still tipping the same. Tourists are definitely tipping less.

                                    1. We tip 20% pre-tax and that hasn't changed.

                                      1. Absolutely not! I'll cut back on where and/or how often I eat out if I have to, but I'm not going to punish the servers when I do go.

                                        1. No, my standard for good service is still 20%, 15% for mediocre service, and 10% only if they're rude or neglectful. We have adjusted by eating out a little less often and choosing less expensive restaurants more often. We've always shared entrees at places where they don't mind splitting and the portions are standard american, i.e. huge. We do that because we're trying to watch portions, but it's also a great way to save money. We tip as if we'd had a second entree when we do this, 'cause it's not fair to the server otherwise, and we like being appreciated regulars at such places.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: amyzan

                                            I'm not tipping less -- 20% -- but I'm not eating out as much. We also are ordering one drink instead of a bottle, and having a nightcap when we get home instead of lingering. The good thing is that it's the peak of the summer fruit season, tomatoes and corn are coming in, and it's a pleasure to dine at home.

                                          2. While I tip the same as always (>=20%), I am eating out less and I also am ordering less. I don't typically eat at very high-end places, though. I guess that ultimately fewer dollars go to the server because of the reduced number of times I go out to eat, though I'm more of a home cook than a restaurant goer.

                                            1. No way. I won't eat out if I can't afford to tip at my normal 20% rate.

                                              1. No, trying to add a bit more and it doesn't matter if it is a regular haunt or not, sometimes it may only be adding a couple of $, but I figure why not.

                                                1. Dining out and then stiffing the waitstaff as one's method for economizing is cause to revitalize capital punishment. Do it right or stay home.
                                                  I dine in more since I joined Chound 19 months ago, because I am enthused and more capable (thanks to all). That is my peculiar irony. I still chortle at jfood's comment when I revealed that I am a commodities trader, and, in his words, " I will live forever. Because God doesn't want me, and the devil fears me."
                                                  So I had better learn to cook.

                                                  23 Replies
                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Capital punishment for bad tipping, what a capital idea!

                                                    My mom raised five kids as a single parent waiting tables. if I don't do right by the waitstaff, forget about capital punishment, because I'll go straight to hell!

                                                    If I can't afford to tip appropriately, I can't afford to eat out.

                                                    1. re: BeaN

                                                      "If I can't afford to tip appropriately, I can't afford to eat out"

                                                      I have already stated that I agree with this statement, but like I said before, I think we are preaching to the choir.

                                                      My question is, what responsibility does management and government have to help their wait staff in these difficult economic times? If it really is true that minimum wage is $2.83 per hour, I am appalled. Plus no benefits? Having live in the States and having had to pay for health insurance through the nose, I can't imagine living there on $2.83 per hour.

                                                      Go ahead and blame cheap tippers for the economic woes of restaurant workers. You can't force a cheap tipper to leave more than 10% (unless you add a mandatory 15% tip on everyone's bill, a topic of another thread perhaps?). It seems crazy to me to rely on good tipping for a regular source of income. Especially in times like this, when people are eating out much less, and eating in cheaper places.

                                                      I do understand that restaurant owners are feeling the pinch too. There will be many casualties in the restaurant business, as there usually are. But surely they must have some responsibility when it comes to making sure their staff are reasonably paid? Or is this unrealistic in the States?

                                                      The other thing I'd point out: if all the bad tippers stayed home because they had a moment of self-awareness and realized they couldn't afford it, then think about how much revenue the whole restaurant would lose. Honestly, I think it would be way worse for all involved. Imagine the tipping police at the restaurant door, sending home those who will only tip 10%. Over a busy evening, they send home 20 groups or people, averaging a bill of $50 per group. That's a hypothetical $1000 of business you've turned away, just because you thought they'd be cheap. How does that help anyone?

                                                      If we want our restaurants and food establishments to survive, we need to continue to go to them and spend money. And although we can complain about poor tipping (and rightly so, remember I do agree with everyone about tipping well), there is a certain "looking a gift horse in the mouth" aspect to this. If those poor tippers stay at home, it will be more hurtful than helpful.

                                                      1. re: moh

                                                        As of July 24, 2008, the federal minimum wage for tipped employees has gone DOWN to $2.13 from $2.83. Okay, I have little or no mathematical ability, but that looks like a reduction in the neighborhood of 25%. With no bennies.

                                                        BTW -- I don't pay any of my employees minimum wage because I expect maximum performance. I probably pay more than I need to -- but I have low employee turnover, happy, loyal customers and I can sleep at night.

                                                        1. re: chefbeth

                                                          $2.13/hour. Wow. that is crazy. I'm taking a minute to be grateful for what I have.

                                                          And I raise a glass to you Chefbeth. Sounds like you've got it figured out. Wishing you continued success, health, prosperity and happiness!

                                                          1. re: moh

                                                            I'm not sure why the $2.13 (or $2.83) is a big deal. They get tips--there are plenty of salespeople who work on commissions-only and most independent consultants/contractors/small businesspeople have *no* salaries.

                                                            It's the total pay (at the end of the month) that matters, and most servers do decently, some doing extremely well, and some not.

                                                            1. re: xanadude

                                                              I get what your saying, xanadude -- I was in sales myself (stocks, bonds) before the restaurant bug bit me for good. And I worked the floor until the siren song of the kitchen drew me over to the other side. I get the argument about commission -- but servers are there to serve. Not to sell. Please see the thread about who was subject to the most blatant upsell not too far from here.

                                                              Sales techniques don't work in this situation, even if the server is working on a so-called commission basis. How would you feel if you walked into your favorite restaurant and your order became a negotiation? I can see it now:

                                                              xxanadude: I'll have the burger.

                                                              Me: Are you sure about that?

                                                              x: Why? is there something wrong with the burger?

                                                              m: No sir, of course not. It's just that the lamb would be so much more . . . suitable.

                                                              x: What do you mean, suitable?

                                                              m: Well, for a man of your stature to be seen with a, a "burger" . . . are you sure your sending the right message? Besides, with the per-pound cost of lamb these days the lamb is just so much more economical. Sustainable, I would hate for you to order down.

                                                              x: Mmm. I really did want just a great burger. And the lamb costs three times as much . . .

                                                              m: Sir, really. Lets talk reality now. How much is it going to cost for me to get you into that lamb?

                                                              x: (I am so out of here.)

                                                              Point taken?

                                                              1. re: chefbeth

                                                                I'm not saying they're there to sell per se; they're primarily service providers, agreed. I just mentioned salespeople as an example of another class of professionals who work on a similar compensation scheme (stockbrokers and investment managers as well).

                                                                1. re: chefbeth

                                                                  Bravo, ChefBeth!
                                                                  Henry Ford, for all his failings had the right idea: produce an affordable car, and pay his employees enough to buy one.

                                                                  Chef, you have the right idea; show your employees respect by paying them well, and demand quality from them.

                                                                  I believe we should not accept the lowest common denominator in quality or service. Resist the race downhill.

                                                                  Passion for quality in cooking and service defines the restaurants thatI patronize and the products I support

                                                                  I resent being dependent on a commission that I cannot control, such as your example. Being paid entirely by commission is fine when control is present, such as sales, but not in the restaurant biz where the upsell is resented.

                                                                  1. re: chefbeth

                                                                    Ha ha ha! Well written. That would sure suck.

                                                                2. re: moh

                                                                  Thank you, my dear. With all of the talk about sustainable food products (which I'm incredibly interested in) I find myself equally concerned about the sustainable work ethic in this business. Most of us are undeniably attracted to it for love, but there is nothing that can kill those good intentions more quickly than poverty. My people work too hard for me to find that acceptable. So when I make money, they know that they will make money. And I try to be forward-looking enough so that when I don't make money, we all pull together and try to figure it out. Idealistic, I know. But it's been ten years and counting since I opened my door, and I've got a good following. But keep your fingers crossed for me. This is going to be a tough year for me, just like it will be for everyone else in my line.

                                                                  1. re: moh

                                                                    Why are people so taken aback by the $2.13/hour. There are sales people that earn $0/hour and I don't see any pity thrown upon them.

                                                                    1. re: Rick

                                                                      Having tried sales once at $0/hour, trust me, there is a lot of pity thrown their way from me. Sales is very hard work. It takes a certain strength of character to stick to it. Pity their way, and respect from me. I couldn't hack it.

                                                                      I do think there is a difference between working on commission and an hourly wage. You can make a lot of money if you are a good salesperson and work hard. An hourly wage sets a limit, and $2.13 per hour is not a lot of money. Now granted, if you have tips, the situation is obviously better. But if the hourly wage is all you are getting, it is ridiculously low. I will continue to be taken aback by this tiny minimum wage.

                                                                      1. re: moh

                                                                        I once worked as a sales person in the jewelry department at Macy's. No salary, all commission. I actually worked on a draw, which meant you got paid a certain salary every week, regardless of your sales. But if your sales didn't meet the minimum to pay your salary you would owe them the difference. On top of that, there were a lot of people who bought expensive jewelry - both real and costume - to use once for a particualr occasion and then they would return it. And off came your commission for that sale. And other times, people would bring stuff back to exchange and you'd lose your commission to the salesperson who handled the exchange. It was a crummy job and I didn't last long. But there are still some people working at that same store in the same department that started the same time I did - over 20 years ago!!!

                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                          Returning jewelry after the big night out- what a sleazy maneuver. In your favor, at least, a bit more difficult to do with a meal....

                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                            Yeah I think Macy's finally tried to stop that from happening by attaching these little glued tags to the jewelry - and the jewelry can't be returned without the tags on. But I'm sure tons of people find a way around this. There really are a lot of classless and clueless people out there who have no consideration for what their selfish actions are doing to those around them.

                                                                        2. re: moh

                                                                          I've never heard of a server that never ever made tips, so assuming someone is only making $2.13 an hour is absurd. From what I can gather, servers aren't set at the national minimum wage because it's assumed their wages will be supplemented by tips. We all know that when we go to a restaurant that you tip, so it's not a big leap of faith to assume servers are certainly making more than $2.13/hour.

                                                                          1. re: Rick

                                                                            >servers aren't set at the national minimum wage
                                                                            >know that when we go to a restaurant that you tip ...
                                                                            whether or not there is a lower minimum wage for tipped
                                                                            employees [aka a "tip credit"] varies by state. here is a
                                                                            map from the Dep of Labor, if you are interested:


                                                                            1. re: psb

                                                                              Thanks psb, I thought the min. wage was a national thing but obviously it's not. So in some states servers are earning much more than the $2.13/hour on top of their tips.

                                                                              1. re: Rick

                                                                                i believe the national min wage is a "minimum minimum" but states
                                                                                are free to have a higher minimum wage.

                                                                                might be of interest:

                                                                        3. re: Rick

                                                                          I think a possible difference is that (as far as I know) a sales person earns a set commission on how much he or she sells, whereas a server is left to the whims of the diner and a lot of conflicting and perhaps confusing ideas and opinions about tipping.

                                                                          Also, I would assume that salespeople get to keep all of their commissions without having to turn over a percentage to support staff (though I've never worked sales, so i could be wrong).

                                                                          1. re: nc213

                                                                            Good points NC, but also remember that 99% of all your customers in a restaurant will leave a tip, but nowhere close to that will buy from a salesperson to generate the commission.

                                                                            1. re: nc213

                                                                              nc, salespeople do get to keep all of their comissions but that's after the house keeps their portion. In car sales there's also a dealer "pack", often around $1200, that the salesperson does not get paid on. So total profit on deal on deal =$3,000, salesperson is paid on $1800. This "pack" goes to house to help pay the bills. So they get to keep their full commission, but only after several hands have been in the pot.

                                                                              Also keep in mind the server is receiving the entire tip, then giving some to support staff, they're not splitting the tip with the restaurant owner. The salesperson is not keeping the entire profit, just a portion of it.

                                                                      2. re: moh

                                                                        No it's not true. That's how much employers pay servers but only if they get enough tips. Federal law requires employers to make up the difference if tips are less then minimum wage. There waiter get at LEAST minimum wage.


                                                                  2. If you cannot afford to tip properly, do not go out to eat. As a former member of the service industry, I feel for your friend. Luckily my friends who still bartend/serve have not felt the sting yet. But I think they know it is coming. 20% people!! (for good service of course)

                                                                    1. Just wanted to comment on all of the "if you can't tip 20% you shouldn't be eating out" comments. I'd imagine a server would rather have 8 tables tipping 15% in one night than 3 tables tipping 20%. Comments like that just may make some people not go out to eat, and that's just not what restaurant owners and servers need in this economy. I own my own business and right now I'm making deals that I would never have made 2 years ago. Please don't discourage people from going out to eat if they can't tip big, it's not what any restaurant owner or server needs. Just my two cents.

                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Rick

                                                                        I think a lot of places still have 15% as a standard as well outside of the most expensive urban areas. I certainly don't think my area has a "20% people!" attitude.

                                                                        1. re: Rick


                                                                          I do not know where you live, but in SF (or DC or Manhattan) tipping 15% on good service is considered just plain wrong. Unless it is your stance, as a restauranteur, that diners are currently entitled only to pay 75% of what they used to pay for the exact same food (plus decor, plates, etc) then the argument that they are entitled to pay only 75% of what they used to pay for the exact same service is untennable.

                                                                          1. re: whiner

                                                                            Thanks for all your input. I guess my query was partially to other service people who frequent the board whether this was prevalent in today's economy or becoming more so - I assumed that as CHers, most would tip as they always did -- generously for good service. An erroneous audience for the question, my fault.

                                                                            1. re: whiner

                                                                              You may want to check lot of threads on the notion of 15% and "wrong." Jfood still tips 15-18% (NYC an suburbs) and has for many years for good service and 20% on very good. But to call 15% tips "wron" is well....

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                That is why I specified Manhattan. Not saying people don't do it -- I am saying, I don't personally know anyone... My ex's father lived in Queens and I could not STAND having dinner with him because he wouldn't tip 20%.

                                                                                1. re: whiner

                                                                                  Wow, probably a good thing he falls in the "ex" category.

                                                                                  You bring up an interesting point though, if you know that someone who is treating you for dinner does not leave what you (generic, not specific to you W) consider an acceptable tip, does it ruin the whole meal thinking about it. Our group leaves 15-20 regularly and it never seems to bother anyone, and it is an acapted range. Heck we're there to have a good time and leave what we all feel is a reasonable and standard tip.

                                                                                  Oh well, to each his/her own. Thanks W.

                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                    It wasn't just th tip, he didn't know how to treat servers well. And it wasn't like he was leaving 17 or 18 %, he was leaving 14% after server would break their backs for him and it would frustrate me to no end -- not ruin the whole meal, but deffinite frustration. When I go out with friends and we split the bill either we discuss appropriate tip or we don't, if not, we just leave whatever we think is appropriate. That said, since I was 17, I do not believe on any occasion I have ever been in a situation where someone I was splitting the bill with wanted to leave less than 19% for good service. (There was one exception in college where there was a problem with the kitchen and a person wanted to take it out on the server by basically not leaving a tip, so the rest of us at dinner over-compensated in our tips and never ate dinner out with this one person again.)

                                                                                    1. re: whiner

                                                                                      Thanks W.

                                                                                      You have some very strict rules, good with math and a very good memory. Jfood barely remembers what he left last week as a tip and there have been occasions where the dinner company left a lower amount (but always above the 15% threshhold) than jfood. Jfood left what he felt was correct (he is a regular at this restaurant and always leaves 20%), the other couple left their perceived level of service/tip and off they went. They are friends, the jfoods enjoy their company and will not not go out with them because their view of tipping is a couple of bucks less than his. Life's too short and friends are more important to jfood than a couple of bucks in the server's pocket. Others may disagree, but c'est la vie.

                                                                                      Thanks for clarifying the full meal issues versus just the tip.

                                                                              2. re: whiner

                                                                                15%'s fine for okay / acceptable / lackluster / uninspired service in SF.

                                                                              3. re: Rick

                                                                                If you read "don't go out if you can't tip properly" and are discouraged from going out to eat, then it's probably a good thing. My guess is that the comments here won't encourage or discourage anyone. What will discourage people from going out (and several people have noted this) is belt-tightening in a bad economy.

                                                                                But the percentage that you tip should be determined only by your feelings about the service. Not the food, not the decor, not the size of the rest rooms. Just the service. If the service is up to your standard, you tip accordingly.

                                                                                If you're feeling squeezed financially, it would be better to eat in less expensive restaurants and tip properly than to continue to pay for the expensive meal but penalize the server, who is still (we assume) providing the same standard of service.

                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                  I think 20% for good service is totally appropriate. If the service is poor, you definitely do not have to tip that much. Just clarifying my other post. The whole 8 tables versus 3 is arbitrary, how do you know how many tables that person is waiting on that night?

                                                                                  1. re: MattInNJ

                                                                                    I don't, and neither do you. But if my point is you'd make more money with 8 tables at 15% than you would with 3 tables at 20%, of course assuming they're all about the same price tables.

                                                                                  2. re: Rick

                                                                                    15% IS the standard--some have inched it up. I tip 15% unless the service is substandard for the class of restaurant, and then it can go all the way to 0, and quickly. If you didn't get the steak you ordered, would you pay for it? If you don't get the appropriate service, you shouldn't pay for it either. Above and beyond goes up. The current economics may dictate not going out as much, but the rules still apply.

                                                                                  3. I order less food, but tip a higher percentage. My tips have gone closer to 25% these days, but the check total has gone down some. Overall, my server's tip remains the same.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                      lol i think that's what i'm doing too, TTT, though i didn't think about it fully until i read your post. dh and i are splitting more and omitting extra apps, desserts & cocktails, but tipping heavy when we do these things.

                                                                                      1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                        Hmm, I can't say I'd order less just so I'd give more to the server. I'm all for tipping properly and supporting business especially small mom and pops. But I'm not going to order one less item just so I can tip the server 25-30%

                                                                                        I stick with my regular amount of food and 15-20% baseline tip, amount going up and down depending on service and overall bill size. Usually at diner places if I'm getting a something quick and small and my bill is $8-12, I will leave $3-5 instead of 20%

                                                                                      2. I don't get the logic of anyone skimping on a tip because times are tough. We still tip our standard 20% and up.

                                                                                        1. Nope.

                                                                                          "If you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out," -My Mom.

                                                                                          1. Oregon minimum wage is $7.95 per hour for servers.

                                                                                            I am tipping the same, usually 20% on normal tabs, more on small ones. When I get a $5-6 dollar lunch special I will leave a couple of bucks. Same thing if I get a happy hour drink for $3 I usually will leave $5.

                                                                                            I have not seen a decrease in restaurant traffic so far in Eugene. However they just announced that our largest employer Hynix (computer chip plant) is pulling the plug and laying off over 1,500 people. That is alot for little Eugene. I expect to see some collateral damage from this one.

                                                                                            1. Maybe I should have forked a separate thread, but what the hell ...

                                                                                              Is anybody in SF tipping less in ~5% health care surcharge establishments?

                                                                                              [I've seen $1.25 added per person as a "cover" rather than surcharge, as well
                                                                                              as up to I believe 5.7% surcharge on the full bill].

                                                                                              Sometime this is "disclosed" in fine print indeed ... so far it's been noticed
                                                                                              either when it bill came or after we left the building ... in which case it
                                                                                              obviously didnt affect the tip.

                                                                                              I guess my rational reaction is "how fair is it to consider this surcharge as
                                                                                              tip-offsetting compensation to the service staff". And my visceral reaction
                                                                                              has to do with "how reasonably was this surcharge disclosed".

                                                                                              In the future, I guess we'll look for it. And then discuss how to should affect the
                                                                                              tip, since it is essentially a benefit going to the same people [we didnt reduce
                                                                                              our tips when the min wage here was raised ... but i thought that incanto fellow's
                                                                                              analysis was interesting ... although maybe more complicated what non-structured
                                                                                              finance geeks are looking for at the end of a meal].

                                                                                              [Any bets on if there will be a "if you cant afford the healthcare surcharge, dont go
                                                                                              out to eat" reply?]

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: psb

                                                                                                Sorry, psb, could you explain a little about this health care surcharge thingie? Is this collected to provide the employees with health insurance?

                                                                                                1. re: moh

                                                                                                  i am not an expert on this but basically: at a recent election,
                                                                                                  SF voters decided to mandate the provision of healthcare to a
                                                                                                  larger set of employees/employers. restos either could have a
                                                                                                  health care plan themselves or pay into a pool. restaurants have
                                                                                                  dealt with this in various ways ... invisibly, semi-visible [price rise
                                                                                                  on menu], and "explictly" [by putting a separately labelled
                                                                                                  "health care surcharge/cover charge" on the menu].

                                                                                                  here is an article from the Los Angles Times [SF doesnt have a daily
                                                                                                  newspaper written by adults for adults]:

                                                                                                  if you google for the obvious stuff ... san francisco, health care surcharge,
                                                                                                  restaurant, coperto ... you'll get lots of hits.

                                                                                                  ObSubTopic: you dont tip on the surcharge/coperto, right? :-)

                                                                                                  1. re: psb

                                                                                                    Thank you for the info psb! This is a very encouraging step. I spent 2 years in the States after growing up in Canada, and I was really freaked out by the amount I had to pay for health insurance. And then even more freaked out by the amount I had to pay to use the health insurance (co-pays, etc.). I also saw the other end, the people who worked long honest hours but still couldn't afford health insurance and decided to take a gamble without it, then lost. These were the saddest cases. The poorest people would be covered, but the people who earned just enough were not, and would have to scramble to pay massive medical bills. I am very impressed to hear about this initiative on the part of SF voters.

                                                                                                    I would pay tip on the surcharge/coperto, but then I would just be a tourist who doesn't know better in SF. Well, now that I know what it is about, I am even more in favour of it, and would happily pay tip on it.

                                                                                                    Do people in SF pay tip on this surcharge?

                                                                                                    And just to clarify, did I understand that 20% is the normal tip in SF?

                                                                                                    1. re: moh

                                                                                                      >Do people in SF pay tip on this surcharge?
                                                                                                      you dont really have a choice ... at least if it is on the menu.
                                                                                                      so the question really is, do you remove from the tip with the left hand
                                                                                                      what the right hand left as the surcharge/cover. you can interpet that
                                                                                                      as you will whether it means they are paying the surcharge.

                                                                                                      note: i am not sure what sub-$15/person places are doing about this.
                                                                                                      like $6 burrito facilities, the chinese/indian places you can get out of
                                                                                                      for under $15, the $10-$12 ethiopian place, slice of pizza, the sandwich
                                                                                                      shop etc. the places which often come up in the discussions, deflina,
                                                                                                      bar bambino etc are expensive restos ... I'm also not sure if the "super
                                                                                                      expensive" places are changing anything [lets just arbitrarily say
                                                                                                      expensive is the $50-$100/person and super-expensive is +$100/pax]

                                                                                                      mr moh: you may be interested in this:
                                                                                                      [second to last paragraph, where the ower explains the "disparate
                                                                                                      impact" of raising the min wage law without a tip credit ... note, that
                                                                                                      happened before the latest round of health care focused changes].

                                                                                                      >And just to clarify, did I understand that 20% is the normal tip in SF?
                                                                                                      my view on this is what i believe is mr. jfood's view over on the
                                                                                                      east coast: "who made that decision?"

                                                                                                      speaking for myself, here is my tipping philosophy and practice:

                                                                                                      1. not sure why there should be regional variation. if anything
                                                                                                      SF should be lower because there is no tip credit [i.e. sub-minimum
                                                                                                      wage minimum wage for tipped employees]. so i think SF calls
                                                                                                      for 15% - 20% for acceptable to pretty good service [i'm also pretty
                                                                                                      low maint, see below


                                                                                                      2. i am much more likely to do a TipDing for shabby treatment,
                                                                                                      rather than execution problems [including those on the part of
                                                                                                      the server ... i dont mean blaming the server for the kitchens
                                                                                                      mistakes] ... i understand mistakes happen ... things spill, you
                                                                                                      run out of stuff, you can be short staffed, other patrons can me
                                                                                                      lame and unpredictable ... but condescention, upselling etc are
                                                                                                      under your control, treating me as a second class dinner etc.
                                                                                                      Those are even worse than incompetence [forgetting something,
                                                                                                      not knowing what something is but being honest about it rather than BSing etc]

                                                                                                      3. obvious at the low end, these percentages are not so meaningful
                                                                                                      [say leaving $2 on an $8 bill]. more controversial apparently is the
                                                                                                      "sublinear tipping on high end wine" ... however I dont personally
                                                                                                      order wine at the trigger point, so that is just a theoretical objection
                                                                                                      for me ... i think it is crazy to expect 15% on +$500 bottles ...
                                                                                                      whether in SF or Nome, Alaska.

                                                                                                      4. i think worrying about post tax/pre tax tipping is kinda silly ...
                                                                                                      that's more than offset by the rouding i do ... which is almost always
                                                                                                      in the server's favor, if i didnt get pissed off. i usually will do
                                                                                                      something like double the tax as a basis ... so that starts me at
                                                                                                      16.5%, then round up, or add a couple of bucks etc if i am happy
                                                                                                      with the service. i might quickly divide by five to see what the
                                                                                                      20% number is and where i am with respect to that ... but i dont
                                                                                                      generally calculate more precisely than "around 18%" or "a little
                                                                                                      above 20%" etc.

                                                                                                      [i'd say my tipping range is in the 17-25% range 80% of the time.
                                                                                                      when it falls outside that, "something happened"]

                                                                                                      eventhough i am quite low maint in resto, i have to say some of
                                                                                                      the replies on forums like this kind of annoy me ... "if you cant pay
                                                                                                      the tax on expensive wine, dont order it" "no you are wrong, 20%
                                                                                                      is the new 15%" "the restaurant owner has some unfair ... possibly
                                                                                                      illegal policy ... you should make yourself aware of this and help
                                                                                                      me out" [the "inside baseball" issue].

                                                                                                      1. re: psb

                                                                                                        psb, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond like this! It is obviously a very complex issue, lots of food for thought. I liked reading Incanto's "Manifesto", and I was interested to read about the conflict between those at the back of house vs. those at the front. It is very clear that it is hard to make a sweeping statement! Lots of very different situations.

                                                                                                        We are going to see a lot of casualties in these tough economic times. I'll try to remember my relative good fortune and keep tipping.

                                                                                              2. San Francisco not "worth it" anymore? Sir (or ma'am) please let me apologize on the behalf of that fine city for you getting to this level of jaded.

                                                                                                I'll go. I'll pay. And I won't frickin complain about it -- as long as the food is good

                                                                                                1. I still tip 20% -- sometimes more -- but eat out less frequently, and at less expensive places. Of course, to me, Denny's is a splurge.

                                                                                                  1. Okay, maybe someone can explain something to me. How in Hades does one know what the norm is for their area? I live in Seattle, and no way do I know what is considered the proper tipping rate for this city. I know what my friends think and do, but since I don't know every citizen, how do I know what the standard is? How do anyone know?

                                                                                                    Incidentally, this isn't exclusive to tipping as it applies to a multidude of etiquette controversies and I gotta say, it drives me crazy.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: marcia

                                                                                                      I think "standard for the area" comes, at least in my perspective, from a combination of restaurant meals - business meals w/colleagues, meals with friends and meals with families (my own and/or plus others). You get a pretty good idea of what people tip from basically going out to eat with other people. Yes it's a representative sample indiciative of your particular socio-economic class generally speaking, but a decent sample anyway. Also many of us are or were servers, or know people who are currently serving and you can talk to them for general information as well.

                                                                                                      I feel confident saying that in my geographic area, in chains where non-foodies/CH people eat, 15% is still considered a standard, good tip. In indie restuarants where more food-conscious, trend-conscious people are eating, it's trending upwards towards 20% more regularly. In the smaller towns and diners which surround my metropolitan area, 10-15% is still standard, particularly the smaller towns with a lot of older/elderly diners. In all my years of serving I rarely got an elderly customer who tipped more than a strict 10%.

                                                                                                      1. re: marcia

                                                                                                        I don't actually buy the 'norm for area' thing. I think there are norms for countries, and norms for groups of people, but I've lived in a lot of places and in each, I've known groups of people who tip more and less. In a big city, there will be a range, and people at either end insisting that their norm is THE norm. The differences don't seem to be that huge, so I don't lose sleep over it. I usually tip 20 percent and I'm happy with that.

                                                                                                      2. I don't want to hijack this thread but it seems appropriate to this discussion to ask this question:

                                                                                                        Does anyone else always leave cash for the tip? I tip well and no matter what I always leave cash. I was told a long time ago by someone in the serivce industry that it is easier for the waitstaff and works to their advantage.

                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Spiritchaser

                                                                                                          Nope, not unless it's an inexpensive place where I'm paying the whole check in cash. It may be a bit easier for them but it means I can't easily leave my chosen percentage (usually 20%) as a tip, because I don't always have a wide variety of bills in my wallet. Unless their management is ripping them off they will get the tip from the credit card exchange, it just takes a few days.

                                                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                                                            I'm the same. It may be a bit easier for the server to receive cash, but a few days wait is no big deal. I've worked in offices where I've been paid once a month, so I guess I have limited sympathy in that respect.

                                                                                                            1. re: queencru

                                                                                                              I see it that way as well. I get paid twice a month (and have had two jobs where I was paid once a month). I don't see why there is an expections of immediate gratification in this area.

                                                                                                          2. re: Spiritchaser

                                                                                                            If I have the cash, I tend to leave it regardless of how I pay.

                                                                                                            1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                              i tend to leave cash in diners/coffee shops even if i'm paying by card, but tip on teh card in more expensive/ higher end places

                                                                                                            2. re: Spiritchaser

                                                                                                              Nope.....we almost always pay with a cc and tip on that as well. Wedon't carry that much cash with us.

                                                                                                              1. re: Spiritchaser

                                                                                                                I worked at a place where 10% of a tip on an AmEx card went to AmEx. Cash went straight into my hands (after funneling it past the hostess, the bus boy and the bar tender). It didn't happen with Visa or MasterCard. Just AmEx. But they've always been odd in ways.

                                                                                                                1. re: Spiritchaser

                                                                                                                  It works to their advantage in that they could avoid paying taxes on it, thereby avoiding paying their fair share.

                                                                                                                  1. re: xanadude

                                                                                                                    or, for those who do report their all of their tips as per the law, it works to their advantage because they don't pay the 2-4% credit card fees on the tips. Still paying their fair share, just not paying part of their tip to the credit card companies.

                                                                                                                2. I'm not tipping less. I started eating out when tipping was 10%. Then it was 15%. Now people are saying it should be 20%. So in 5 years will you pay 25%? Your grandchildren will be paying 40%? Perhaps if people were a little less generous with their money, you'll have more of it? Sorry - that was a vent. OK, I'm tipping 15%. You know how some will say their parents/grandparents won't tip more than 10%? I'm going to be 42 next month. I'm pretty sure I'll never tip more than 15%. I'm okay for putting in a couple more dollars in every so often if I'm asking for something, but I'm sticking with 15% for your plain ole meal.

                                                                                                                  Although I live 7 miles out of San Francisco, I haven't gone to a nice restaurant there in about a year. I'll be going to Gary Danko for my birthday. Lucky for our server, my more generous husband will be paying the bill for our $9.36/hour server, compared to his/her counterpart in my hometown of $2.13/hour.

                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: boltnut55

                                                                                                                    I'll be 44 next month (and Dh is 59) and we only tip less than 20% when there is a significant server issue which is rare. And we have plenty of money thank.you.very.much. And find that generous tipping leads to good karma and lots of perks and comes back to us tenfold.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Spiritchaser

                                                                                                                        i posted this in the karma question thread and felt like posting it again:

                                                                                                                        "and as a pedantic side note - if people are going to throw around terms like karma (without getting into if i believe in such or not) let's use it correctly. there is no good karma. all karma ties you to the wheel of rebirth. the goal is to have no karma. "good karma" may be relatively better than "bad karma" , but the only good karma is no karma"

                                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                                          what's the point of precision when it comes to mumbo jumbo.
                                                                                                                          if you want to say something meaningful, say what you mean instead
                                                                                                                          of "dropping the k-bomb". [the "you" isnt directed at "thew" but in

                                                                                                                          if you mean "tip well because it is a hard job" say that.
                                                                                                                          if you mean "tip well because it will lead to better service" say that.
                                                                                                                          if you mean "tip well becase it's just nice" say that.

                                                                                                                          "tip well because it is (good) karma" doesnt mean anything.

                                                                                                                          tip well because it will make the monkey-god happy.

                                                                                                                          1. re: psb

                                                                                                                            even imaginary things deserve precision - don't tell me you saw a unicorn, and then describe it as a horse w/ wings.

                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                              fair point about getting your definitions right but if
                                                                                                                              somebody said they saw a unicorn in central park
                                                                                                                              which flew away after grazing for a bit, it's kinda silly
                                                                                                                              to debate whether they REALLY saw the pegasus,
                                                                                                                              or a hippogriff.

                                                                                                                              [see also Nichomachean Ethics Bk1.Chap3.]

                                                                                                                              1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                see, with that attitude there would be no more religious wars, and then where would we be? ;)

                                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                  Cue John Lennon "Imagine" ...

                                                                                                                  2. If I have the means to go out and eat, I'll tip 20%, if the waitperson is not doing a good job, I'll remind them that inspite of their off night I left them a good tip. They always remember the next time I'm in. They have to make a living and pay bills like everyone else and, IMO, 15% doesn't cut it.

                                                                                                                    30 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                      Using that reasoning, do you also tip when you go to McDonalds, the grocery store, the quickie mart, etc? Those people make very little and have bill to pay too.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                        No, they get a better hourly rate aprox. 4X higher, plus benefits, than a waitperson. You're not really comparing apples to apples.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                          I know someone that works at McDonald's, he makes $7.50/hour, has been there for three years, no benefits. You tell me how he doesn't have it tough making a living on about $15k/year gross. The lame min. wage thing doesn't fly, servers are expected to receive tips and in some state they're paid much more than the $2.xx per hour. My beef is with giving people 20% for a bad job and justifying it because they have bills to pay. Lots of people are paid a low wage, I just don't get why servers are given the extra money and pity and other low wage earners are not.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                            "Lots of people are paid a low wage, I just don't get why servers are given the extra money and pity and other low wage earners are not."

                                                                                                                            I agree with this statement, there are a lot of people who work for just as little and don't receive tips. As there are people who receive tips and don't appreciate it. A tip is just it- a tip. Regardless of it being 10% or 20% servers should just appreciate the extra money regardless of that amount.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                              Im my original comment, I mentioned that I left the tip and also let the waitperson know that I did so, even though the service wasn't what it should be, the end result being, and I've had the experience, that the next time I come in the service better be excellent. Sometimes it works and sometimes not, when not, the 2nd time through, then sans tip!

                                                                                                                              As for bills to pay, you're interperting my statement that I pity them because they have bills, not so. Most, not all, waitstaff are usually hard working, sometimes 2nd jobs, paying their way through college etc. Maybe your friend at Mickey D's needs a 2nd job waiting tables to make ends meet.

                                                                                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                Glad to hear you give them one free pass, not two. Fortunately my friend also does lots of side jobs, manual labor type jobs, to make ends meets.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                  A great paraphrase! I'll give anyone a 2nd chance.

                                                                                                                            2. re: cstr

                                                                                                                              Um, no.

                                                                                                                              In San Diego (where you appear to live), McDonalds workers get a starting wage of $8-10 per hour, no benefits. Servers get a minimum of $8 per hour. Plus tips. So it really is apples to apples.

                                                                                                                              No minimum-wage worker living in an expensive city can afford a decent place to live and healthy food to eat. Never mind luxuries like medical care and transportation. The only difference is that servers expect to earn more than minimum wage, and those expectations are realized because of tips.

                                                                                                                              I won't weigh in here on whether the current system where customers augment a server's income can or should be overhauled or improved, or whether servers (or teachers, or doctors) make more or less money than they should. But please be aware that a server who receives even paltry tips has a significantly greater take-home than a significant part of the population.

                                                                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                Alan, I think you and I are simpatico on the socio-economic bandwidth. Servers who can acquire the skills to speak usefully about a higher end menu, (meaning having personal experiences ) and articulate with a 20,000 word vocabulary that doesn't include words like "cool" and "dude", and can limit the body jewelry and tattoos, can quickly rise to server positions at restaurants that pay...if not well, much better. The quandary is how to acquire the skillset. Some have the intuitive recognition of the need, and the aptitude to get it done. Others should correctly wash out.
                                                                                                                                A recent thread condemning the lack of sommelier skills throughout Mexico City really, really pi**ed me off. I used to live there. I recommended to the poster that he follow any sommelier in D.F. to his home on the 5 peso collectivo bus and look at where he lives. This is a hard working man who has not enjoyed a $12 dollar glass of wine in his life. How can he possibly guide you through your dinner wine pairings? But he showed up for work in one of his two ironed white shirts, and shined shoes, and a lot of pride.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                  Rick, I think you are quite on topic. The Catch-22 in areas in which I have either lived or visited frequently in Latin America, with parallels stateside, is that so many who by serendipity of birth into a strata where they learn finer points of dining and wines, etc., find it "beneath their rank and dignity" (a phrase I loathe) to perform in a service capacity. The spoiled brats.
                                                                                                                                  For those from modest backgrounds who, as I mentioned above, have the recognition, aptitude, and drive to succeed, those are my heroes.
                                                                                                                                  EDIT: In re-reading my ramblings I didn't answer your initial question. In Mexico City there are no unemployed sommeliers. As you suggest, with training, you have to make your own...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                    wow.. so now a tattoo a piercing or using the word cool makes one unsuited to wait tables at the higher end?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                      I did not and would not say unsuited. But far less likely to succeed at the high end. Relative illiteracy and body art has zero chance of augmenting tips. It's a lifestyle thing after hours, not a platform on which careers are built. Disagree all day long, but them's the facts.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                        exactly. anyone who has a tattoo should stay the eff back in the kitchen *cooking* the food, where they belong, and never speak to the customers or show their face foh-- that's what the photo-op friendly exec chef named wolfgang, or daniel, who never cooks, is for. most restaurant patrons want to look in a mirror when they see their server. white, untattooed, unpierced males, only-- need apply.

                                                                                                                                        what? some restaurant patrons *have* tattoos? some are non white males? some are tattooed non white females? a few of *those* are non-criminal, tax-paying community-leader types (albeit obviously illiterate--tattooed + pierced= obvious illiteracy)?

                                                                                                                                        as everyone knows, the only people who sport tattoos and piercings are obviously illiterate people who live on a pirate ship; serve no nation; steal, refurbish and resell minivans without charging proper city and state sales tax; and have an "after hours lifestyle thing" going on. keep these people out of our restaurants at all costs, as well as any minorities or non-english speakers-- as that would spell disaster for "our" restaurants. if you catch sight of even a single line of ink peeking from the cuff of your server's sleeve, or she sports one-- or even two, non-clip "earrings" (the disgusting & barbaric practice of piercing the earlobe) total, i recommend immediately docking the customary tip by at least half, regardless of the level of service or "professionalism" of the server. your tip will only serve to finance the person's bizarre "after hours lifestyle," after all.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                          kitten, my simple preference is not to look at a face full of metal, with the exception of youthful, tempory, and expensive orthodontics.I equally acknowledge your barf-o-rama privilige because my naked body is unillustrated and can pass through a metal detector ..:)
                                                                                                                                          As I sort of said above, if you look like a f**king Christmas tree in July, naked or not, and you're selling $100 meals, you will still be tipped on your performance. I just sometimes wonder how the "Christmas Tree" got his/her job from the get-go. It isn't what EVERYBODY wants to look at, even if that is your personal Nirvana.
                                                                                                                                          Believe it or not, some people just like people-colored people.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                            only making a point, V, i don't have a single tattoo or piercing, not even an earlobe (female).

                                                                                                                                            as long as the server is clean and kempt, i don't care about jewelry. to me, there is very little difference between the socially acceptable or expected earring(s) and any other facial piercing. a nose ring on my server in no way affects her/his efficacy in taking my order, advising me on the menu choices, or keeping my water glass filled, and tattoos on her/his arm don't seem to affect the taste of my main at all.

                                                                                                                                            wrt how folks get hired, an 18-year-old employee displayed her first tattoo to me yesterday, and i did not fire her, nor did it affect my opinion of her personally in the least. she is the same lovely young woman she was before she got ink. no matter how many tattoos she gets, i won't be changing my opinion about her. though i do realize that other folks judge people on the color or colors of their skin, i dislike discrimination, and in fact it is illegal to discriminate when hiring. i see many tattooed business owners, chefs, servers and artisans in the food business and ime the inked-up folks are generally far more professional than the martini-lunching, khaki wearing mba-types. frequently the ink signifies a coming-up-from-the-ranks background which is in fact a desirable quality, but i certainly would not hesitate to hire anyone based on tattoos (jailhouse spiderwebs & gang tattoos etc excepted). i also disagree that tattoos adversely affect servers' tips. a server friend who commemorated his army unit on his forearm frequently gets positive/curious comments on his tattoo from his tables, and after they hear his personal story, he frequently gets big tips.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: thew

                                                                                                                                        This is purely jfood's opinion ad may not be popular but...

                                                                                                                                        It took jfood 10-15 years to get used to earings on guys and he admits it. Now it does not bother him. But when he is eating at a "higher end" restaurant he does not want most tatoos and piercings (other than a nice earring) on his server. To be perfectly frank, if jfood's server had piercings that bothered jfood he would ask for a different table or server, just as if his server was against anti-perspirant. If something will ruin an expensive evening for jfood he would rather fix it and enjoy the night versus having a bad time. Believe jfood in that the server will be etter off as well.

                                                                                                                                        People may not like that answer but there are quit a few with the same opinion, but may not say so openly.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                          jfood, Euclid and his ilk are coalescing on this one. I for one am of the same opinion as yours, and speak it openly, brother. Metal hoops throught the brows, nostrils, lips, is more visual noise than I want to see at a truckstop, let alone a fine dining experience.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                            Acceptance of tattoos and piercing seems generational. Like it or not it is becoming more and more common and in 15 years maybe you will be use to these things as well.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                              i'm 47. i have no problem w/ my server having tattoos or piercings, as long as they do their job well. I have no idea how a server having a tattoo or eyebrow ring can effect the quality of one's meal or dining experience. honestly. i'm not saying it can't, i'm just saying i have no idea how it could. how does their piercing change your steak dinner? i just do not see it.

                                                                                                                                              What i want from my waiter is a friendly, non-snooty attitude, a knowledge of the menu, and good service. I don't care if they are dressed like penguins, have enough metal in them to sink a rowboat, or have guernica tattooed across their face.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                I wouldn't request a new waiter over it, though I don't think it's professional. I would buy a house from a realtor that works in shorts and flip flops, but I'd think it more professional if they wore at least business casual. I say save the hoops and piercings for after work, and if you have tattoos all over your arms, wear long sleeves. I am of course referencing the fine dining, if it's a corner pizza shop, I don't think it matters.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                  KT and thew, I'm 55 and I try to be tolerant of the "generational" thing. But being served a bowl of stew by a Charles Manson look-alike is not my first choice. If Catherine Zeta-Jones is serving the same stew across the street, that's where I'll eat.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                    You are now talking about physical attractiveness. Angelina Jolie has plenty of tattoos and Rosie O'Donnell has none. Who would you rather have serve you?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                        I think Rosie would be the more fun waitress. I have no knowledge of either's body art and could care less, but if what you say is true, Rosie certainly has a lot of underutilized surface area.. :)

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                        It may be a regional thing, too; body art is more common, and therefore more widely accepted, in some parts of the country than others. Part of it may just be what each of us is accustomed to seeing, whether on the street or in a restaurant. Something that's too "different" can take us out of our comfort zone.

                                                                                                                                                        Regardless, I'd rather be served good chow by Lydia the Tattooed Lady than Sysco fodder by Catherine Zeta-Jones or anybody else. Others have different priorities; that's why Hooters is such a success.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                          what if the CZJ server is surly, rude, and incompetent, while the CM server is great, funny, attentive, and does the job well?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                            The discipline to hold back on forming quick opinions certainly paves the way for the occasional nice surprise. I agree with you. I allready voted for Rosie over CZJ, but as for CM et al, I would rather view guernica in Madrid than on a forehead.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                              Waitstaff making 8 per/hr base? I know some waitstaff that make zero base per/hr, all they get is tips. As the OP states in the topic line are you tipping less? It doesn't imply 'bad service', but rather 'are you still able to go out to eat' but, because of rising gas prices, food costs, living costs etc. are you going to cheap out on the tip.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                Assuming that we're talking about servers employed in the State of California, I find that very hard to believe. Here it is illegal for a restaurant to pay employees who are servers less than $8 per hour, and the penalty for violating this law is $50 per pay period for the first offense and $100 for each subsequent offense.

                                                                                                                                                Neither can an owner "deduct" the wage paid from the server's tips. It's illegal for an owner or the manager to take any part of the server's tips. Last March, Starbucks got hit with a $100,000,000+ judgment because supervisors were sharing in the tip pools.

                                                                                                                                                If you really know servers who are making zero base, they should contact the Department of Labor or an attorney who specializes in wage and hour matters. The restaurant owner is stealing from them; they shouldn't have to put up with it, and you shouldn't have to tip more to compensate for theft by a third party.

                                                                                                                                                As for me, I've actually increased my tipping a little bit lately. I assume that the downturn in the economy and the recent increases in the cost of living are hitting people in the service industry a lot harder than me, and a dollar here or there is going to make a much bigger difference to them in the long run.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                  I usually tip well, based on friendly and courteous treatment, hidden behind all of this is the chow, it better be real good. Some waitstaff that in places I frequent also have to 'tip out' bartenders, bussing staff etc. so that 20% +/- gets eaten up. Also, some places have to 'pool' their tips, thus allowing a less than stellar server to reap the rewards from a good server. Not an easy profession to be in, by any stretch.

                                                                                                                                      3. Hmm, I live in Canada, so tipping here is a little less compared to the US. I think most people in Canada pay at least 10% tip- of course there are those that pay more. But I find that if you have an outstanding/going out of their way for you type server- for example if the meal took a long time and they offered you a drink on the house or something, I actually end up paying 30% tip to my server for the great service because they care about my business.

                                                                                                                                        Also, this is just my opinion- but if servers are getting paid that little ( like $2.80/ per hour), then I think it's the restaurant owners responsibility to make sure their servers are making a living. I know restaurants owners that make sure their staff gets paid well with benefits and I applaud them. At the end of the day, I don't think servers should have such great expectations on customers to provide most of their wage through tips. Sorry I know a lot of people will disagree, but 80% of a business's profit comes from regular customers, if you tell those regular customers "Sorry sir, you're not tipping enough- please go somewhere else in your price range to serve you", it would severely hurt the restaurant and of course hurt the servers.

                                                                                                                                        1. I am tipping the same- usually 20% - we are going out a little less but looking for deals - like certificates for $30 dollars for $15.75- we still tip as if $30.

                                                                                                                                          1. I don't think I've been tipping less. I usually try to round out to an even dollar around 15-20%

                                                                                                                                            1. After 22 years of tipping waitstaff, I'd say I'm not tipping less "these days" but something has changed - I'm quite a bit more firm in my convictions about gratuities.

                                                                                                                                              Any career plan for economic success has risk. Waitstaff -accept- variability in gratuity because they bet on the largesse of affluent customers to gain big tips and make up for small "losses". This is the fundamental risk involved, by choice. They know that other customers will not produce the same raw dollars in the tip jar.

                                                                                                                                              So now, consider the commonly cited 2-table example : table 1's dinner tab for 2 people being $100, and table 2's dinner tab for 2 people being $200. Consider futher that table 2 ordered exactly the same services, but slightly more expensive entree's, slightly more expensive wine, etc. So the service work for each table was exactly the same but the total was greater on table 2. At the end, suppose each table tips 20% and the waiter/waitress is satisfied. In reality, table 2 has just -subsidized- service for table 1. The fact is, the waiter/waitress was willing & happy to provide service to table 1 for a $20 tip. Not so for table 2, where the anticipated tip was $40ish. Anything less would have resulted in dissatisfaction, although the service work was exactly the same. So clearly - the waitstaff in this example has reaped a successful bet on the largesse of more affluent customers. Or, you could say that waitstaff has a "sliding scale" of pay expectation - services are offered at a higher price for more successful customers. Is that fair ?

                                                                                                                                              Like it or not, anyone in this career field has plainly accepted that their wage will be subject to re-evaluation by every-single-customer every day. That's the risk that accompanies "looking" for the windfall from an affluent customer.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Joey Foodman

                                                                                                                                                I see what you are saying about the "subsidy" but there are a lot of
                                                                                                                                                weird pathologies of this kind. If a steak is $20 but my willingness-to-pay
                                                                                                                                                is $22 for that steak and your WTP is $24, are you getting a better deal than
                                                                                                                                                I am because you got $2 "more value" than me? Say we abolished tipping,
                                                                                                                                                well the $200 diner is still "subsidizing" the $100 diner because he is contributing
                                                                                                                                                more to the restaurant's rent ... was he entiled to a 7% larger table? what about the
                                                                                                                                                short-lingering diner "subsidizing" the long-lingering diner? Restuarants arent
                                                                                                                                                hyper efficient markets ...see controversy over selling high demand reservations,
                                                                                                                                                or if there is one high demand daily-special left, nobody is suggesting the restaurant should auction them off ... should the last steak end up with me because i ordered before you, or with you because you were willing to pay more.

                                                                                                                                                I think the fundamental issue of the tipped staff is the risk-of-being-stiffed
                                                                                                                                                and the volatility/uncertainty at the margin of their income stream.

                                                                                                                                                The fundamental issue for the patron is the "service quality bundling" ...
                                                                                                                                                i.e. you cant say "I want a $500 bottle of wine, but please give me $300
                                                                                                                                                bottle of wine level service, which I will use as the basis of my tip %age
                                                                                                                                                calculation... i.e. pls be careful about decating, but the special but not
                                                                                                                                                extra-special glasses will do."

                                                                                                                                                [also consider real estate agent fees staying the same in %age terms
                                                                                                                                                as house prices greatly appreciated in certain areas ... the steven leavitt
                                                                                                                                                et al analysis about real estate agent fees made some people in the
                                                                                                                                                business go crazy ... read the threads on ny of the online columns
                                                                                                                                                about that. should a 150lbs person get 50lbs extra of luggage allowance
                                                                                                                                                compared to a 200lbs person? [well technically 50lbs * k where k is some decay
                                                                                                                                                factor reflecting the difference in quality of cabin space and hold space].

                                                                                                                                                OK TNX

                                                                                                                                              2. There is no reason to be tipping any less, if I can afford to go out (no matter the economic times), I can afford to tip properly, unless there is some issue with the service itself.

                                                                                                                                                It's sad people use the current status of our enconomy to screw the service industry - makes NO sense.

                                                                                                                                                1. Nowadays, I still tip 20-25% for excellent service, but for lackluster or poor service, I now give only 10%. Both my hubby and I were servers (actually met each other working for the same restaurant!), and we know all the ins and outs that can go right or wrong waiting on tables. Today we ate lunch at a place with good food, but despite the fact that we were one of only 5 tables there because it was 2:45 pm, the server apparently had no interest in us, yet made sure that all the other parties were satisfied and happy. We've had -and have ourselves, given- much better service under extremely high-pressure situations, so for not checking to see if our meal was alright, ever, and that our drinks were refilled, and for giving us the check before seeing if we wanted dessert or coffee, Junior got only 10%.
                                                                                                                                                  We used to ALWAYS give at least 15% (unless the service was REALLY lousy), but now we're less forgiving for bad or unnecessarily mediochre service. Since we don't go out to eat nearly as much as we used to, when we do go to a nice place, we expect decent service, for which we will happily pay 20-25%

                                                                                                                                                  1. Now that I think about it, I seem to be tipping more.