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Gratuity for Private Cooking Class?

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We're doing a private cooking class/dinner for my in-laws' anniversary for which we've hired a chef. We are splitting it with my husband's brother and his wife. The chef is coming to my in-laws' house. She is the owner of the company. Is this a service we tip on? If so, how much? It feels a bit much to tip 20%. I am normally a good tipper, having worked in food service for many years. Quick replies are appreciated as we're doing this tomorrow (July 4). Thanks

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  1. One does NOT tip owners. This chef/teacher makes the profit from the engagement. No tip is required, expected or should be tendered.

    8 Replies
    1. re: bagelman01

      "One does not tip owners".

      I've never heard this rule before. There is not a person, who's performed any type of service in my home, and there've been numerous occasions to do so, that I've not tipped heavily for the service rendered.
      Most of the services have been performed by the owner of his/her company.
      Everyone deserves to make a living and if the service is performed with perfection I see nothing wrong with tipping accordingly.
      To amyvc....I always hire people I know will do an exemplary job for me. I want the reputation of someone who respects the person's trade and tipping well is a reflection of that. The next time I need their service they'll know I am one who will treat them right.

      1. re: latindancer

        "One does not tip owners".

        This notion is no longer relevant in today's marketplace. It's one thing if you apply this belief to the beauty salon or hair stylist who owns the shop and charges you considerably more money for their services, as opposed to any other stylist in the employ of the owner. e.g.. $100 compared to $50. I would then agree with this principle......however, when it come to a small business owner like a caterer...or a simple owner who acts as a barkeeper in his own place, in fact I do feel it's inappropriate not to provide a gratuity for their services. If the beauty salon owner charged the same price and his/her employees....I would then definitely tip them for their services.

        This response also reminds me of holiday gifts where it is mentioned by some who feel it is inappropriate to give the owner of a services company any gift......which to me is ridiculous. You give gifts or gratuities to show your appreciation. Using this post specifically, have you (OP) considered the fact this person is taking time off n a holiday to be away from her own family and friends to be with you? I think that fact alone deserves some consideration.

        1. re: fourunder

          "One does not tip owners"..

          This is NOT my quote.
          Please read my responses. It's the complete opposite of what I do and what my beliefs are.

          1. re: latindancer


            I was agreeing with you.....and I know you were responding to bagelman01.

            1. re: latindancer

              So if you had someone cater an event and it was a one man or woman business, they owned their business and did the cooking, would you not tip them for a great event?

              1. re: kchurchill5

                You may be a little confused.
                I'm all in favor of tipping everyone...including the owner.

                1. re: latindancer

                  My apologies, sorry for the mis post.

      2. Well, probably too late to help, but we've done this several times. Besides the monogramed aprons, toques, etc. for the guests, we've usually tipped +15% on the bill. In two cases, we've also bought the chef's products, and as they were very good, have offered good reviews on local food boards. We'd have done the exact same, had we not also contracted with them for the events.

        In each case, the guests loved the events, as did we, as hosts.



        1. Tip!!! (Why wouldn't you?!!)

          1. To clarify, I no longer work in food service. I did so for many years while in college. Not that it matters. Just didn't want to misrepresent myself.

            I have absolutely heard the rule that one does not tip owners. However, I've more often heard it in reference to hair salons or other industries that are not food-related. In a hospitality-type industry, it's more customary to add a gratuity onto most services, IMHO.

            As to why I'd ask the question, I make it a point not to pay extra for anything that I don't have to. I want to ensure that the person performing a service was appropriately compensated for said service. And I believe in rewarding exemplary service with 20% or more. However, if I don't need to spend another $100, then I won't do so.

            It's sounding like the consensus is to give a gratuity. However, I'd still be interested in other replies. We're doing the party tonight, so still time. Thanks all....

            7 Replies
            1. re: amyvc

              I don't like paying extra for anything I don't have to either.
              However, having said that, tipping is a given, no matter who the person is.
              You're having a chef come into a private home and perform a service.
              The chef undoubtedly, at least from my experience, will be spending several hours in this home.
              Not only should the chef, who owns the company, be tipped but all the chef's assistants should be tipped. If there is cleanup after and during they all should be tipped.
              It's just the way it is.

              1. re: latindancer

                Not only should the chef, who owns the company, be tipped but all the chef's assistants should be tipped. If there is cleanup after and during they all should be tipped.
                It's just the way it is.

                Sorry, but I'll have to disagree with you on this one, sort of. There is no reason a a host/hostess should have to tip every individual participant in the support of a function, owner or employee with a set monetary value, i.e., a $50 here, a $20 there and a $10 there and etc. for example.

                The host tips a percentage off the bill and the terms of contract. A typical contract will call for:
                1. suggested staff gratuities
                2. Labor.

                In my past at an premiere Country Club Caterer, the suggested staff gratuities were 8-10% and the labor charge was 18%. We're talking large parties here, so it may be a little extreme tho compare this situation exactly, but in actual reality, the staff gratuities were the commissions and the labor was the gratuity. The owner gave the commissions to the manager and never took them for himself if he booked the job personally...even without any assistance from the manager. The labor charges were paid directly to the staff in predetermined wages based on *a job total of four hours*.

                In this case where you mention multiple staff, I would say the owner collects the total gratuity given by the host/hostess and disperses an equal or appropriate amount/share to the workers depending on the level of service they preformed. The owner in this case should not take a share in my opinion.....as my old boss never did and I would follow his example.

                In other words...if the event was for $1000, then assuming the host tips 20%, he would disperse the tip in equal/appropriate shares between the number of employees wiorking the event, e.g., four workers....$200 > $50 to each employee....Owner $0. This would be the classy way for the owner of the company to act, but if he took an equal cut I would not brand him a pig......I would just disagree with his action.

                1. re: fourunder

                  I'm not saying the host should have to tip 'every individual participat in the support of a function'.
                  I'm just saying I do.

                  1. re: latindancer


                    I'm not trying to pick a fight with you on any of this....but I just comment on what I read in real time. I am more like yourself than you realize when it comes to the tipping department. I tip everyone I can think of...but by your comments of:

                    Not only should the chef, who owns the company, be tipped but all the chef's assistants should be tipped. If there is cleanup after and during they all should be tipped.
                    It's just the way it is.


                    This suggested to me it was proper to tip all..... Again, like yourself, my comments reflect what I do or would do in this case.,,,,,and I have also clearly stated I do not feel it's proper for me to decide how others should spend their money. my disagreement in this case was I do not mind tipping all....just that I feel the owner should decline the tip himself and disperse it to his/her staff instead


                    1. re: fourunder

                      I didn't think you were 'trying to pick a fight with' me, at all :).
                      I lvalue your information, your experience and your overall knowledge of the practice.
                      I agree with everything you're saying, actually.
                      Peace to you!

                      1. re: latindancer


                        Thanks for the kind words.....I'm adding you to my reading list........;)

                  2. re: fourunder

                    You make very valid and thoughtful points.
                    If a caterer or chef does an exemplary job for me, above and beyond my expectations, I'll continue to tip the way I've always done it.
                    I live in a city where there is so much competition that I've never had any other type of experience with help, no matter what kind it is.
                    It might be why my tipping is beyond what is customary, I don't know.
                    My expectations are high.

              2. I used to teach classes, my business, me the owner and me the personal cook or chef. I didn't ask for a tip, but I don't think I ever left without a tip. 15-20 was usually what I received. And one time much more. The person was so happy she asked me back for 10 more lessons for her and her friends. Now the tip wasn't that much each time but always very substantial and much appreciated. They were a great group, easy to please, great learners and tons of fun.

                Tip, yes. But if they didn't I understand, but it is nice when they do.

                1. Thank you to those who have answered the question that I asked. As someone who has never utilized the services of a private chef, I was inquiring as to whether it is customary to tip. I did not ever say that I was unwilling to tip or give any indication that I would not tip if it is customary. I don't deserve a lecture. 20% of $600 still feels steep but we are happy to pay what is customary and appropriate.

                  As to the question of "did I consider the chef taking time away from her holiday?" I asked her if she wanted to work. She had the option not to. She will be well-compensated for her time. I don't think there's any other consideration, is there?

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: amyvc

                    I for one didn't lecture you and hope I didn't sound that way, tip I would, but I have clients who didn't and those who did. I still had other classes with the ones that didn't tip and they got the same service. Do what you do and what you can afford and feel comfortable with. And the chef should realize that and be just fine with that.

                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      Kchurchill, you did not lecture in any way and I'm sorry if it seemed I was implying that you did. your reply was gracious and met the intended mark. Educate me about using the services of a private chef. You were one that I was thanking.... :)

                      I did not want to come off rude, but I was, frankly, pissed to be lectured when I simply asked a question. Thanks again for your helpful advice (and to the others who did the same).

                      1. re: amyvc

                        No worries, just wanted to make sure. You have every right to tip or not. I have some do and don't, grateful for those who do, but understand if you don't. I am just happy to put on a service that hopefully inspires others to cook.

                        As a private cook/chef, whatever you call me since I am not culinary trained I cook for only 1 lady right now, but used to involved working in restaurants, from waitress, to salad girl to chef to bartender to co owner of a restaurant to caterer and now work full time and cater part time and also cook for a lady part time, she pays me weekly, but it is a set price. Just did a class but just for friends. They paid me for food and my time and several tipped extra. When I taught classes I did a base fee that covered my time, food etc, Gratuity is not required or something like that, I can't remember now. But some did tip and most did, a little or a lot. But I would do it with no tip. I was compensated enough to make it worth it and had fun. Maybe I didn't over price my service so the tip was a nice way to compensate. So many caterers so overprice their services I can't stand it. I try do offer affordable catering not one that will break the bank so maybe compared to others my price was lower and the tip was to say thanks. Not sure.

                        I think that catering and food services including restaurants these days just charge way too much. The restaurant I was co owner with we made every day food with an upscale twist, it was a diner, but all fresh food, well as fresh as fresh can be. No canned salsas, sauces, gravys, fresh grilled, fresh pasta and breads, etc. and offered a good meal with a drink for under 10 every day, many around 8 and it was packed. Now just smaller town but still, great business. It shows that you don't have to gouge people to make a profit. Same with private chefs. They do fine on their own but sometimes they want too much. Sometimes the quality is valued more than just the price.

                    2. re: amyvc

                      I'm in the no tip camp. The owner knows exactly how many hours s/he will be at an event and knows all the fixed cost and should build all time and materials into their bill so that they make an acceptable profit. Do you tip your mechanic or plumber? I wouldn't because once again the time and materials are all built into the bill.

                      1. re: amyvc

                        As to the question of "did I consider the chef taking time away from her holiday?" I asked her if she wanted to work. She had the option not to. She will be well-compensated for her time. I don't think there's any other consideration, is there?

                        Actually, there is. It's one thing to contract someone for their services. It's another evaluate their performance and overall satisfaction than just merely showing up for the work. You posed a question with a simple premise. Now after a few more contributions have been made to the topic, more details are known and possibly could affect your decision or people opinions. It's your opinion she is being well compensated for her time, but without knowing the extent of her involvement in time and whether or not she is also providing material and food for the instruction demonstration.....it's really not possible to make that determination at this time. If you were to say it was for 2 hours time, you would probably be correct to most opinions.....but if it were for 4-6 hours time, I would say you were incorrect.......extra materials and food notwithstanding.

                        btw....as I mentioned in my prior post, whether or not you decide to give a gratuity should be based on if you want to show your appreciation, or not. Yes, she decided to accept the work.....she takes the work as she is offered.....but are you truly thankful she said yes to your offer so you would be able to give this gift to your MIL on a holiday is a more appropriate question.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          Ok, then put it this way. She will be paid the rate that she indicated when we contracted for her services. She will also receive as tip, as is customary. You are correct that it is my opinion that she is being well-compensated. Well-compensated is a subjective term. The simple answer to the question remains: she was asked to work with the option to not work. She chose to work on a holiday. For all I know, it's possible she has built extra cost into the bill for the fact that it is a holiday.

                          1. re: amyvc

                            I don't understand why you are tipping. The rate has already been set by the proprietor of the business if they want more they should ask for more. If you aren't satisfied with the service can you deduct from the original contracted price? No.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              I'm tipping because it appears to be customary to do so. I am ok with it. I know that food-related services tend to cost a bit more as there is a gratuity involved. See kchurchill's reply above. She hit the mark.

                              I worked as a server for many years and I'm aware that I should do what's customary.

                            2. re: amyvc


                              the replies so far....nays(2)....yeahs(6) including your decision as indicated.

                              She may have built in extra costs for the bill to reflect the holiday....and for prep, travel, wear and tear and any other expenses normally one should for proper business plans.......but she may also have low balled her offer in the hopes of securing future business too.

                              The responses given thus far reflect what the posters feel is appropriate and which is what they are comfortable with with regards to their personal views. It's not proper for me to spend your money.....I originally expressed my opinion and then offered a few explanations. Based on everything said thus far, I myself, would still give a gratuity.

                              A question for you? How did you come to select this person or her company to provide this service. Did you simply research on the internet or yellow pages....or did this come through a recommendation of a friend who may have used her services in the past....or know this person on a more personal/intimate level?

                              1. re: fourunder

                                Good questions as to how you selected the person. Most of my business is referrals, not many just random. And a lot of repeat business, but still overall, it comes down to how you felt and what you got out of his or hers class and what you felt it was worth. Nothing more.

                                Very true fourunder

                                1. re: kchurchill5


                                  Thanks for the kind words too......I'm adding you to my reading list as well.......;)

                                2. re: fourunder

                                  Found her through an internet search. So no, I don't know her personally. I plan to give a gratuity. Thanks all for all your help.

                                  1. re: amyvc

                                    For the record.....Assuming $600 is the price for the cooking lesson/class/demonstration is correct from your earlier post....

                                    Coming from an owner, previous manager and previous staff member through the ages, a $50 gratuity is more than adequate in my opinion to cover expenses and show appreciation. Anything above I would consider thoughtful and generous on your part. Your original thought of 20% being a bit much is correct in this case/instance.

                          2. I'm in the no tip camp in this circumstance.

                            It seems to me you are hiring a teacher. A food tutor. You pay them for the services rendered.

                            Tipping has gotten out of hand. In a situation where the base salary does not cover the work done, I understand. Restaurants, delivery people, bell people at hotels... But this person is setting a price for their service. You pay the price. Job done.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jennalynn

                              I'm in 100% agreement with you Jennalynn. Tipping has become a nightmare. I can't imagine why you would tip the owner of a business, or a teacher. Give them an apple.
                              Oops! That sounds like a tip to me.

                            2. Do you tip a drivers' ed instructor, ceramics teacher, karate teacher? I don't, and I wouldn't tip a cooking teacher, either. They set their rates in order to make a reasonable profit

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Update: We had the party/cooking demo last night. The chef was very flexible with the cooking class and picked up the slack when we decided we wanted to sit and drink instead of cook. She also set up, plated all the dinners, served us, packed up leftovers and left the kitchen spotless. So, for this reason, we gave her about a %17 tip. We felt comfortable with it, as the food and the experience were excellent. For the record, she had a printed statement on the invoice which sounded much like what kchurchill above said "gratuities not necessary but appreciated".

                                Forunder, thanks for your comments. I still felt like 20% was high. She did not have any servers with her. not sure why, but we compromised with 17% ($100) which was a nice round number.

                                1. re: amyvc

                                  Thanks for the update. If you guys enjoyed and had a nice time and he or she did a good job, anything you gave should of been appreciated. I am sure they were grateful and as long as you were comfortable about it as well.

                              2. Why would you be automatically expected to tip them at all? They're not serving you in a restaurant and earning minimum wage... they're coming to the house to hold a class for a pre-negotiated fee which presumably covers all their expenses and salary. It's not a tipping situation unless they do something absolutely extraordinary for you while they're there. If they're bringing along waitstaff, then the waiters would get a tip.

                                1. I might always give the chef a very nice bottle or two of wine. At our country club we typically tip 20% but we also give chef a nice bottle once in awhile throughout the year, I know it is appreciated and we do get payback.

                                  I sometimes tip the pump guy that shows up and fixes a problem in good order and does extra in teaching me things about my equipment, also the HVAC guy that does extra, the pool guy owns his own business and gets a nice present around the holidays, if I get my house painted and they do a extra good job I usually tip the workers and make them a great bbq lunch on the last day (even if I can not understand their language). I believe that everyone enjoys a thankyou and a little token of the customers appreciation.

                                  We have a CPA firm and special clients will send in some platters of sandwiches or sparkling wine after a busy season, it is appreciated and I know staff goes out of their way to take extra special care of them.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: duck833

                                    This is exactly how I feel, duck.

                                    1. re: duck833

                                      I might always give the chef a very nice bottle or two of wine. At our country club we typically tip 20% but we also give chef a nice bottle once in awhile throughout the year, I know it is appreciated and we do get payback.

                                      Coming from a previous Country Club background from my prior history....I thank you for your generosity for on behalf of all CC employees. It's very thoughtful of you to consider the chef, as he is not a tipped employee.

                                      FYI for anyone else who is ever a guest at a Country Club....etiquette wisdom dictates as a guest, you do not tip employees in the clubhouse or on the course.....but if you are a familiar face, I say that is also an antiquated rule....even if it is a non-tipping club. A five, ten or twenty directly in the hand of an employee does wonders. At my brother's old club there was a steam room in the men's locker room...which apparently was seldom used and thus, never turned on unless requested. One day while changing my shoes .....and on request by myself for the attendant to turn it on for after my round of golf....the attendant said he would and I explained I would be grateful if he could turn it on at least an hour before my round ended so the walls could get hot. I gave him a (20) for his efforts(two pairs of shoes). It was at least two months later until I returned to my brother's club.....but upon arrival, I ran into the same attendant before I made it to the locker room in the lobby....he welcomed me to the club, we exchanged pleasantries and then told me he was going to turn the steam room on for me immediately......now that's service and deserves a show of gratitude regardless of what etiquette or club rules dictate. If you give a tip discreetly, you are hurting no one and the recipient is always grateful.

                                      btw.....I'm pretty sure your host will not be offended if you break etiquette.

                                    2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                                      Miss Manners has a letter on tipping owners this week. She's against it.

                                      18 Replies
                                      1. re: mbfant

                                        According to whom?

                                        Those of us who actually know etiquette can tell you authoritatively that it is improper to tip the owner of a business. Tipping is done to supplement the inadequate wages of service employees, and should be considered insulting by entrepreneurs...........Miss Manners.
                                        Who exactly is Miss Manners...the absolute definitive final answer?

                                        mbfant, these comments are not directed at you.....but my opinion on etiquette and Miss Manners only.

                                        With regards to etiquette, like the rule of law, it is my opinion it is in a state constant evolution to reflect the times. You can state your position as a for a man, one should practice chivalry when it comes to women, but what exactly does that have to do with qualities of Knight/hood in today's world. Yes, I do open doors for women and let them enter buildings or the automobile, but if you apply the equal rights and opportunity law.....does etiquette still apply....does the woman wait at the door to let the male have the opportunity to open it, or does she open the door for the man......in the scheme of life, I will still open the door for all women when I have a chance, but who really gives a hoot about that...and I can tell you a simple *thank you* is seldom heard in return . Many are in such a rush today, the last thing they think about is etiquette.

                                        Here's something for the non-tipping camp to consider with regards to a catered event/home instruction.

                                        Company A: is privately owned, sends a chef, supplies the food, equipment and paper necessary to fulfill the terms of the contract for the event. Everything is considered a success and the party hosts are extremely happy and satisfied. The fee was a total of $600 for the event.

                                        Company B: is privately owned, sends a chef, him/herself, supplies the food, equipment and paper necessary to fulfill the terms of the contract for the event. Everything is considered a success and the party hosts are extremely happy and satisfied. The fee was a total of $600 for the event.

                                        The reputation of both companies are excellent, the menu was identical for both examples and the food prepared was exactly the same for purposes of this argument. What's really different about either except the fact one sent a chef and the other, the owner sent herself. If we look deeper, Company A is a large Small Business with 50 employees. Company B is a Small Business with only 2 employees. With these facts known, Company A's chef is an employee with a job.....Company B's chef is an owner who bought herself a job.

                                        With regards to the gratuity...do you decide to book the job with the larger company and give a $100 tip.....or do you book with Company B, knowing you do not have to tip the owner of the company? If you choose B.......you are just plain cheap.

                                        Getting back to Miss Manners......I practice etiquette as best I can with the knowledge I have learned over the years......however, as most in the restaurant industry, we believe what goes around comes around......if we are wrong, so be it and we are perfectly happy to be wrong.....We are not sheep, does anyone have a problem with that?

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                          Nobody gets a tip in your examples because everything should be included in the contracted price of the job. The reason I tip waiters, coat checkers, etc. is because their wages are based on tips.

                                          Fourunder, do you tip contractors, mechanics, plumbers, etc? They are exactly the same as the chefs you describe in your examples. They get paid x per hour and the cost of materials/parts are paid by you the consumer.

                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            To me a personal chef or hosting a cooking party is a somewhat form of entertainment. They are not just cooking and putting it on the table and leaving. I work for a lady and cook 4 times a week. I do not get a tip. I get paid hourly, although she tries to tip. A plumber the same way, he does his job and leaves. A cooking host or cooking demonstration or class is completely different. How could you relate the two. I just can't see it. My class is based on connection with the clients having fun, teaching, interacting, learning and talking, not fixing a leaking pipe. We talk and learn about one another and enjoy the time spent. I'm not in, cook and just leave, I love to make sure I taught them something and make sure they enjoyed the time

                                            I taught a 6 hour class for free for 12 people, just because they asked. No reason, we all pitched in on food and I did it because they honestly wanted to learn, they loved the class, we had a ball. Now here is the best part. They were all battered wives which I didn't know when I took the job. They spent every sent on this class and then tipped me 50 and felt so bad they couldn't tip more. They learned a ton, we had fun and it was worth every minutes of my time and I donated all the money I spent on food. They simply wanted to learn to cook healthier for their kids but they were too proud to tell me that when they hired me.

                                            Makes you take a good look at life doesn't it. That was the best class I ever taught and would do it over and over if I could. That 50 dollars was probably all those girls had between them all, but yet they wanted me to take it. The following week I gave it back plus some to the safe house as an annoymous donation.

                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                              Nobody gets a tip in your examples because everything should be included in the contracted price of the job.....

                                              With due respect KT, that's your credo, not mine........(should be)

                                              Fourunder, do you tip contractors, mechanics, plumbers, etc?


                                              Actually, I do...whether they are the owners of the company or not. You may or may not be in the same position as myself, but through the years I have met a lot of people through business, family and friends. Relationships have been established and if they are in some type of service industry, I utilize their professional efforts whenever I can and it has become mutually beneficial for both of us. More often than not, these people, who are now considered friends.......reduce their fees or labor charges to me. They charge for parts and a nominal fee above that. I appreciate it, but I also realize they do it out of kindness and it's not necessary. I am happy to utilize their services because of the trust factor for which I do not have with a strange business.

                                              The contractor does his work promptly with no worries. He takes care of everything such as the permits and the clean-up afterwards. In the past. I've had a hard time tracking down the contractor and he leaves the finished job a mess...this after he says he will be back to clean up the job, but does not.

                                              The mechanics.....for routine maintenance, I have a guy who comes to my house on his day off to change the oil or do a tune-up. I have even had him do my brakes in the past. When he comes to my home I'll tip him according to the difficulty of the job at hand or I will take him out(on another night) for a dinner of his choice with beverages, his decision based on his circumstances at the time. Whenever I have had a major job when one of my commercial vehicles were down, the auto shop doesn't make me wait a day or two to, but fixes the problem as soon as possible and it's usually on the same day.....limited down time and I do not have o rent any vehicle for the next day to continue doing business. In this case, a simple $20 is a lot less than a rental vehicle.

                                              As for the plumber(or electrician).....again, like the contractor the job is done well and no worries. I'm sure it's the same for you in NYC, but for those who live in the other parts of the country....Here in NJ, an unfamiliar plumber or electrician usually charges a minimum of one hour's labor for travel time and estimate just to evaluate what needs to be done. This fee may or may not be taken off a final bill if you ultimately use them for their service. I do not have to deal with such issues or terms for service.

                                              Just like latindancer, Bill Hunt, duck833 and amyvc......I tip everyone who I feel is deserving.....and I am happy to do it.

                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                At least you are consistent. We'll have to agree to disagree.

                                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                                  As the one who started this whole debate (sorry....but it always becomes a debate when you talk about tipping!)...for the record, I don't usually tip contractors or plumbers, though I might for service over and above that which is expected. So, as I write this, I'm more like forunder and the others listed above than I thought....anyway...

                                                  I know it's inconsistent, but I tip in a food/entertainment/hospitality situation because it's expected and customary. I don't usually tip other types of service providers (except hairdressers) in general, simply because it's not what we usually do. Just my 2 cents...ALSO, I'm 100% against tip jars in all manner of fast food restaurants and coffee places. I'm most ok with it in a coffee place if the coffee maker goes above and beyond for you. But a tip for putting cheeseburger in a bag or pouring coffee for me? no, sorry!

                                                2. re: fourunder

                                                  A few nights ago I went to a restaurant in Thai Town.
                                                  Using the valet I asked the man to take care of my car....I tipped him more than the customary tip simply because I knew he'd park my car in view and keep an eye on it.
                                                  There are times when tips can be used to my advantage and I'm willing to go that extra mile.
                                                  At the same time I know if I tip more than the usual amount to a service I frequent I know I'll be given preferential treatment the next time I call.

                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                    As a side note I have tipped valets when I drop the car off to let him know how serious I am and also tipped him when he brings the car to me.
                                                    I don't think there are rules, as Miss Manners suggests. I think it's up to the individual and how much they want to show their appreciation for services well done.

                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                      Let me say first, these following comments are not in opposition to anyone here who is in the non-tipping camp. I just want to address my views on the first words cast on this topic......One does NOT tip owners.......as this is an absolute rule, it's inappropriate to do so and it is insulting to the owner....and any owner who accepts is committing a breach of etiquette......and instead, pose a question to you to see if you still feel the same after a few examples.

                                                      Owners of businesses and service companies can vary greatly in size and circumstances...and to withhold a gratuity based absolutely and solely on the fact the person is the owner of the company is short sighted. As I stated earlier up thread, many owners of companies or business are merely a front for a person who has had to purchase his or her own job.....mostly due to the fact out of necessity because they could not find gainful employment suitable for their needs to provide for themselves or their families.

                                                      Some past and present examples of owners include:

                                                      * The paperboy who owned his own route who delivered the morning paper regardless of the weather
                                                      * The maid/house cleaner who has to clean up after your mess
                                                      * The gardener who makes your property look nice all spring and summer or
                                                      * The person who comes to your house to water your plants or feed your dog and charges you a nominal rate....the reason why you utilize their efforts
                                                      * The food cart vendor who stands on pavement all day in the elements where, or more appropriately, so you can buy your $1 hot dog or $5 plate lunch...or the coffee lady who rolls her cart through your office in hopes you purchase a muffin or doughnut.
                                                      * The valet car parking attendant who works a full daytime job, then goes to his business as a valet(with employees) at a restaurant from 5:00PM to Midnight, to earn extra money to put his kids through college.....where he does not charge a fee for the valet service.

                                                      If after these examples you can still hold your positions absolutely....I'll just say you are some tough cookies to crack.



                                                      your examples of the the valet attendant or the extra tip above and beyond ring very true, reach close to home for me personally and, I too see the benefits the practice returns to me in excellent service received.

                                                      I very rarely dine out on Friday or Saturday evenings, but sometimes I do play golf on a Friday and entertain clients and friends. Once in a while, we will decide to have dinner and have to come up with a place that can accommodate our group without a reservation made.......ultimately, this will be at my favorite restaurant which typically has a 2-3 hour wait for walk-ins during prime dinner hours. I make the call and I have yet to be refused a table a short notice....which directly relates to your last sentence and your experiences(8:28 post).

                                                      Also, the car valet at this restaurant is the best I have ever seen at this position. This guy parks everyone's car throughout the evening without ever issuing anyone any type of ticket or voucher to identify the diner's automobile. When the diner is ready to leave, they exit the front door...and the valet recognizes who they are and immediately produces their auto without the owner ever having to ask or describe his car. Many of the diners are regulars, so in such instances it's might not seem like a big deal, however he does this with new first time patrons as well. Very cool and amazing considering the number of diners on the busy weekend nights.

                                                      With regards to you willing to go the extra mile to protect you investment with incentive, there's a funny story too with this valet. This restaurant will typically have all the expensive German autos and high performance Italian autos on the lot...there are even two regulars who have Maybachs......but this does not guarantee any of them will occupy the front spots to show off their cars as one might assume. Once a regular who has a car in the price range of just under $150,000 asked the valet why he never parked his car upfront, but instead parked it in the rear of the lot. The valet asked the regular if he wanted the truth, and his reply was yes. The valet calmly(arguably politely) explained his method and procedure for placement. He told him....

                                                      You see that car in the first slot? It's a $50. You see that car in the second spot? That's a $20. Your dollar goes to the back of the lot.

                                                      It's now rumored the regular has increased his appreciation to a *saw buck*

                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                        This is an interesting topic. When I look at the examples above, I see them more as people who are self-employed. I would not necessarily consider these people to be "small business owners" per se, and would be more likely to tip those self-employed people than I would be to tip a person who owns a full-scale business. I think it really depends on the situation and there is no uniform rule that you can apply. I'm generally in the camp that business owners should NOT be tipped, but if a chef does a private party and this is not something that is normally part of his job description, then I don't see any problem giving a tip.

                                                        If this is his normal business, I would probably be less likely to tip assuming that someone who is in this business probably has a better idea going in what's reasonable to charge. Often times, people who do activities only very occasionally on the side don't really know what it's reasonable to charge and may not really be foresighted enough to make it profitable for them.

                                                        1. re: queencru


                                                          You are a very reasonable person who has opened eyes and mind and can see the disticntions between the two......on behalf of all the self-employed entrepreneurs out there....I thank you in advance of your future generosity.

                                                          1. re: queencru

                                                            queencru and all,

                                                            Let me expand further on another scenario that happened to me many years ago when I worked for my family in the 70's. My father owned a restaurant with a bar that had a strong happy hour crowd. If I remember correctly, drinks were a dollar, with a premium call brand an extra quarter.

                                                            When I turned 18 years of age, my father allowed me to work the bar. He paid me no salary, but I worked for tips alone. There used to be a regular that was always a PIA, but he came in religiously five days a week after work with others and allotted $5 for his stay and consumption of alcohol. His drink of choice was Dewars and water in a tall glass. After working a couple of weeks, this bar patron remarked how he was happy I took over the bar duties......he could now enjoy, or rather have four drinks as opposed to the three previously before I started working. I replied I did not understand what he meant.....he explained to me, before I started working, he could only have three drinks @ $3.75, so he could leave a dollar tip for the then bartender on duty. Now that I was working, he could have four drinks for the whole $5 instead.....still not understanding his reasoning, I asked him to explain further...which he did. He rationale was, that I was an owner, and thus I did not receive a gratuity, so he could apply the extra amount of funds to another drink.......I laughed at him, called him a cheap and stupid bastard for not being able to realize my father was the owner, not I, and I was merely working for the family, and at the same time taking the opportunity of informing him, that for the pleasure of working for my family I was not paid any salary. but only received tips.........he acknowledged my comments without rebuttal......continued to have his four premium Dewars cocktails.......but started to leave me a dollar tip from that day on.

                                                            People can come around......

                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                              I have a friend who owns a bar and tells a similar story. He on occasion worked the bar and there was a girl who came around during his shift and never left a tip. One day he called her on it and her rationale was the same as yours. Bar and restaurant owners who serve get tipped because they are not making a wage. If a plumber came by and charged me nothing except the cost of the materials I'd tip him as well.

                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                KT...in the last story, my position is my father was the owner......not I. I was an indentured servant at best..........but in general as I have indicated before....., if it's a small corner bar and the owners had to work the bar or floor, as many do, I would most certainly tip them. I have known many places where the husband tends bar and the wife is a server in the dining room. These are the true definition of "Mom and Pop" family run businesses.

                                                                btw...are you the girl in the story and is the bar owner still your friend?

                                                                ...only kidding........;-)

                                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                                  I have never not tipped a bartender, ever! That is a mortal sin. Mostly because I've tended bar in the past and still do on occasion.

                                                          2. re: fourunder

                                                            I love the mentality of valets like you're describing. I've known a few in my lifetime and it's remarkable how they operate.
                                                            I would think valets would take some lessons from someone like this but, sadly, we all know they don't.
                                                            BTW....you're suggesting the owner of the Maybach leaves a 'dollar' tip to the valet? Now that's just plain laughable! What a great story.

                                                        2. re: latindancer

                                                          It's been a couple of years since I have been to, but many people do not realize Peter Luger Steakhouse has free parking available. The area of Williamsburg where PL is, may or may not seem questionable to some, so having a private lot helps for those who travel by car. The lot has always been attended by a quaint older gentleman who simply sits on a chair and greets you with a pleasant hello when you exit your auto. he doesn't offer you any tickets and I do not recall seeing any signs for *gratuities appreciated* or such.

                                                          Again, like yourself, I always give the man a a gratuity on the way in.....not on the way out for that little extra special care to hopefully insure I have a ride home.

                                                    2. re: fourunder

                                                      This was a private cooking class. Not a catered event. Totally different.

                                                      When I hire a caterer I expect to tip the wait staff. It is customary in that arena. When I hire a teacher or a tutor I do not tip.