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Tipping the owner of a restaurant

This post is not related to food, but would like some opinions on it.
Should an owner be tipped by the customer? and Should the owner accept tips from it's staff at the end of their shifts?

Any comments welcomed.

Thank you.

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  1. No and no. A doctor wouldn't accept tips from patients (well, maybe stock tips) and a doctor wouldn't take back part of his employees paycheck, would she?

    7 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Thank you! I know of a restaurant where the owner does take tips from their wait staff at the end of the shift and see's nothing wrong with it. Plus, takes shifts from the employee's when they are off without asking another employee.

      1. re: BRI328

        The owner should not take tips from his staff.....however, if the restaurant is small, I find no problem with owners accepting gratuities from patrons......in most cases, the volume is small and all the owner did was buy himself a job. Let's say an owner owns a pub and sells a burger for $5 and a beer for $2. How much do you really think he is making on the check?

        As for taking shifts, or more appropriately, covering them.....he's the owner. If he wants to serve his customers in the bar or in the dining room......it called service. Whether this practice works or not is his decision to make. As long as his present staff does not complain, why should it be a concern of yours. If an employee needs a day off unexpectedly, I'm sure they would appreciate the owner filling in, in a pinch. Maybe there are no other employees he feels is qualified to fill in the shifts of others. I actually admire an owner who is hands on.

        1. re: BRI328

          in this state (mass.) it is illegal for owners or managers to take tips from FOH employees.

          many owners will politely refuse tips from patrons, but not all. personally, i find it tacky to tip, or attempt to, an owner. even more crass to accept. but by this i mean, simply cash in hand. if the owner is waiting tables or behind the bar because it's a start-up or small, then yes, by all means tip.

          1. re: BRI328

            I recently discovered that a local owner was doing this, and a lion's share from what I gathered. They no longer have my business.

            1. re: BRI328

              Assigning shifts is the owner's prerogative. If the owner wants to assign another employee to the shift because someone will be absent, that is his/her choice. If he/she fails to, it doesn't mean he/she "took the shift away". This is a business, not a birthday party.

              1. re: Full tummy

                Actually in this case, the one owner tells the manager they will cover the shift before asking another employee if they are available to cover the shift.

                1. re: BRI328

                  Yes, but it's his/her business, and a business owner has a right to cover as many shifts as he/she wants, whenever he/she wants. The business owner is responsible for whether that business survives, meets payroll, makes a profit. He/she can lay off people, send people home from their shifts, and do all kinds of things to stay in business, as long as no laws/employment standards are being broken. Running a business isn't easy, but sometimes that's hard to see when you're an employee.

          2. I tip the person that serves me, regardless of whether they are the owner or not. Why wouldn't you unless you were trying to get out of tipping? The argument about doctors not taking tips has nothing to do with anything, since doctors don't take tips under any circumstances, whether they own or not.

            1 Reply
            1. re: purple bot

              I agree. I'd tip the owner if he was waiting on me. I'd also tip the salon owner, if he was the one doing my hair.

              I do believe it's completely wrong for owners/managers to take tips from employees. It's almost shameful.

            2. Absolutely not on both accounts.

              1 Reply
              1. re: SusieS

                Thanks to everyone for their replies so far. I greatly appreciate the feed back.

                1. One doesn't necessarily know that the person serving you is, in fact ,the owner. If you didn't know he was the owner you would tip him. Does having the knowledge change the service that was provided? I'll answer "no" and proceed to tip in that situation.

                  (forgive the gender-bias pronouns)

                  I do believe though that, even if working shifts as a server, the owner should not share in any tip pooling and certainly should never demand a % of others' tips.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: HDinCentralME

                    I completely agree with you. I currently work at a restaurant where the owner does takes a percentage of our tips even when he does not serve. The owners idea is "if im here, i receive"

                    1. re: george.morales

                      You may want to contact a wage-and-hour attorney. That practice is blatantly illegal in California, and I believe it's illegal in most other states, too.

                  2. Second part first: an owner should *never* participate in any tip pool, individual tip, or banquet service charge or gratuity revenue. Never.

                    Now, some of my customers will ply me with money for a good seat on a night when we're having live music or a special gourmet meal. It's funny, the ones who do it with loud words and a flourish are usually brandishing a $10 bill -- the ones who palm me a bill usually do so with $50. I don't allow a "bribe" of any sort to compromise the wishes of customers who've reserved with us in advance. I will admit that I'll reward the effort. In any case, I give the entire amount to the staff who serve that customer's table.

                    In good times and in bad, a restaurant owner is typically a lot better off (financially, health insurance, etc.) than his staff. That's why I'll never "participate" in any of the gratuities that belong, by all rights, to them and them alone.

                    By the way, I'm tired of serving people in my bar who justify not tipping me because I'm the owner. But it would a breach of etiquette to even *discuss* *anything* to do with a gratuity; so I don't tell them that I forward my gratuities -- in all cases -- to the staff that's backing me up and helping me make money.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: shaogo

                      "in good times and in bad, a restaurant owner is typically a lot better off...than his staff."

                      If a restaurant/business is doing well because it's got great employees, you're right that it's important for the employees to feel they are doing well and being appreciated, too... if the owner wants to keep things looking good.

                      Unfortunately, not all restaurants/businesses are "doing well', and business owners are oftentimes a lot worse off in bad times. Here in Canada, employees who lose their job can collect Employment Insurance, whereas the owner whose business has failed has nothing, except perhaps huge debts. It's important to remember, too, that many restaurants never generate the kind of revenue needed to pay anyone more experienced than young people. Young people finish university and move on to better jobs, but the restaurant owner who is scraping by moves on to retirement...

                      1. re: Full tummy

                        Thanks for speaking out for the small business owners!

                        It's the same in the U.S., the employees are entitled to Unemployment Insurance but the owner's not. Sure, the owner may be stuck with debts, but that's his/her fault.

                        I've been in the restaurant business for a long time. It's a huge risk. You're at the mercy of the fickle customer -- and the weather. It is essential that a restaurant be sufficiently capitalized to weather the storms. Fail to have that capital -- or worse, a dependency upon debt -- and one business "hiccup" could be enough to run the business under.

                        On the other side of the coin, a very busy restaurant with a good control on expenses is in a position to make an awful lot of money. The return is commensurate with the amount of initial risk.

                        Of course I feel bad for the business owner who loses and is faced with having nothing; or worse, faced with a lot of debt. Such is the cost, however, of having a risky opportunity to make money on an initial investment, and falling off-track somewhere along the way.

                        1. re: shaogo

                          I read something years ago that sticks: (I'm paraphrasing) Like natural childbirth, owning your own business is vastly overrated.

                          1. re: shaogo

                            Shago:" in the U.S., the employees are entitled to Unemployment Insurance but the owner's not. "
                            This is NOT a universal truth. The owner's salary (if he or she draws a paycheck) is subject to the federal unemployment tax, and the state tax in some states (Connecticut for example). If the restaurant folds, the former owner CAN collect unemployment benefits.

                            Unemployment varies from state to state. In Connecticut, the employee NEVER contributes a penny to the system, it is all a tax on the employer. In New York, the employee pays an unemployment tax on his/her earnings.

                            I have spent almost my entire life in small and medium sized family businesses (from 1 store to a chain of 15, volume from 250,000 to 20Million) when business is good, there's nothing better than being the owner, but when it turns, the employee has the advantage.
                            The owner skips paychecks and works more hours, he/she is tied to the establishment and can't just walk away. The employee can find another job, and often leaves you in a lurch.

                            1. re: shaogo

                              another outlook, perhaps -- an owner is also at the mercy of the honesty of the employees when no one's looking. i've seen lots of dollars of food given away, wasted, and food and tableware walked out the back door. i've seen alcohol given away when there's a stiff legal penalty for getting caught. i've seen drugs on premises too much, and i've seen lots of time wasted. the risk is the owner's and perhaps, 'responsibility' for incurring debt and losing a business' is better said than the idea of 'fault' as mentioned earlier. yes, i do agree an owner should never accept tips from employees nor participate in a tip pool situation. however, the risk and reward in the venture are the owner's sole responsibility. a good boss will appreciate good employees, but the jobs won't be there if the owner doesn't also manage well. it's a very risky business. one compressor goes out in the middle of the night, and who gets called? it could means thousands of dollars of loss if it's the walk-in.

                        2. The easy answer first. To your second question...NEVER (caps intended for emphasis).

                          On the first one. Jfood is not inclined to tip the owner of the business. But here is the dilemma from jfood's perspective. There might be more than the owner serving the table. If you do not tip then their share of the tips gets a big zero from the table. How that might be handled will probably get some input from people but how about handing the runner and the busbiy some money as their share of the anticipated tip pool. Jfood would look to others to give insight in how tips are shared in the FOH.


                          1. In this day and age where it seems like we're supposed to tip just about everyone for everything, and increasing %ages to boot ... maybe it's a good idea. The employees should consider tipping the employer for giving them the privilege of slaving away for him. Hopefully they're generous tippers or people here on CH will look down on them ... people don't appreciate how hard it is to be an owner!

                            1. In some Toronto restaurants, owners do take a share of the tips, even though they aren't doing any of the service. Don't know if it's legal, though, and I wonder if this happens more commonly in the restaurants that have students employed (who don't know better), or have foreigners employed, whose English is not good and who are unlikely to be able to get a better job and who don't know the labour laws. I have had a number of young people stay with me who were on some sort of travel/work arrangement. Their English was poor, and they typically worked for people who were originally from the same home country. They were often paid cash, less than minimum wage, and they received little, if any, of their tips. When I tried to tell one of these young people this wasn't right, he told me his boss was a good person... I avoid all such places.

                              That said, if the owner is serving me, I will tip him/her just as I would another server. (Why should I get a freebee just because it's the owner?) And I don't expect him/her to share.

                              Edit: I just want to say that if the owner turns down the tip, that would be considered very gracious...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Full tummy

                                Currently working as a waiter, I believe you should tip whoever is serving you, however, when it comes to the owner serving you, I believe the correct thing for HIM/HER to do is to forward that tip to the bar and bussers..

                              2. 1. No. You tip the owner by repeating business.

                                2. It's deeply illegal in some US jurisdictions for the house to skim tips - in Massachusetts, they regularly bust restaurants that pull that stunt.

                                95 Replies
                                1. re: Karl S

                                  So if the owner is my server, I shouldn't leave him/her a cent? He still has to tip out the bar and bussers. They should receive nothing as well?

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                    This tipping out is a matter of policy of the individual restaurant.
                                    I worked at a stekhouse in the early 90s. When the owner waited a station on the weekend, he did not expect tips and often refused them. He did not tip out the bar staff or bus staff (his own children).

                                    Also in that establishment, tipping out was done from tips actually received, not a percentage of the checks sold. A waiter who did not serve alcohol to a table would not have to tip out x% to the bar staff that was not received.

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      That completely depends on the restaurant. I've worked at numerous resturants and only at one did you tip-out on tips recieved and not total sales.

                                    2. re: invinotheresverde

                                      As jfood asked above since he does not know the percentages.

                                      If the tip-out is 50% and the normal tip is 20%, would it be OK to tip 10%? This is a real question as jfood is trying to understand all of the behind the scens things in a restaurant. For example, one time his server was non-existent, but the runner and busser did their jobs well. On the way out he gave the MOD a cash tip and told her to give to the runner/busser for their efforts, but the server was not due a tip for his contribution.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        "If the tip-out is 50% and the normal tip is 20%, would it be OK to tip 10%?"

                                        I tip for the service I receive. If it's good, that means 20% or more, which is broken up between the support staff. Some restaurants allow waiters to tip-out on tips received, but I've only worked at one such place. More (IME) restaurants tip-out based on total sales. 2% to the bussers, 1.5% to the bar, 1.5% to the food runners is that percentage that's used in my resturant.

                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                          i've experienced the opposite and actually worked more places where tip-outs are based on total tips, not sales.

                                          some fine dining restaurants tip-out from waiters' pockets can be as high as 40%, depending on how much service staff is on.

                                          one place i worked, servers tipped the bar only on liquor and beer, because they tipped the sommelier (me, lol) on their wine sales. (actually my sales, on their behalf, so, ya know...)

                                          where i am now, servers tip out 10% to bussers, 5% to bar and minimum of $5 to expediter.

                                          as a patron, there is no way to know what house policy is, whether tips are pooled, or what happens at the end of the night.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            Yep, it varies from joint to joint. That's another reason I wouldn't stiff the owner. Other people depend on his tips.


                                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                                        What's the withholding on the owner's assumed tip income (that is, is the owner treating him or herself as a server for tax purposes - is there automatically withholiding on tips not in fact received)?

                                        Tipping is a matter of social custom, and part of the longstanding custom of tipping is that tipping the owner is not only not called for, but insulting to the owner - something that an owner should politely refuse as a matter of pride. Many many people still operate under that understanding. Custom changes rather slowly, and owners had best learn not to resent that fact.

                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          if the owner is not on the payroll as a tipped employee, which he most likely is not, the irs and local tax authorities do not assume he receives tips. he is on salary.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            So the owner would be getting a better deal than a real server if he or she were tipped, because they don't have tipped income imputed to them automatically that is subject to withholding.

                                            1. re: Karl S

                                              other than the obvious crapshoot of running a successful and profitable restaurant. depending on the start-up cost and pool of investors, it can sometimes take a couple years for a place to start running in the black and the owner to make money.

                                              he could also lose his shirt if he goes under.

                                              if he *is* keeping tips and not reporting the income, he could get badly dinged by the irs. if he *is* keeping tips, that is against the law in many states and the fines + payback are dire.

                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                Plenty of servers receive much more in tips than they claim. That is a fact.

                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                  i have worked in bars and restaurants all my adult life -- nearly 20 years now.

                                                  your assertion used to be truer than today. for one thing, in the late 80s, the irs and local tax authorities started really cracking on down on tipped employees, specifically targeting restaurant staff and hairdressers. this also affected owners, because it meant they hadn't been paying enough into unemployment, fica, etc. , so were dinged with heavy penalties. most have become far more stringent in what employees claim because they have a vested interest in that.

                                                  second, a huge percentage of restaurant transactions are now electronic. a paper trail leaves no room for lying to the tax man about your income.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    I live in Canada. Just the other day, I read an article about how a government investigation showed huge tax revenue lost because owners have software that deletes cash transactions so it looks like they never had the customer in the first place. But yes, it was easier then. It's still very much happening, though.

                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                      who knew canadians were so duplicitous? you have that such a nice guy rep the world over! lol. ;)

                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                        Haha, we probably learned it from someone down there!!! ;-) If it's happening here, for sure it's happening in the U.S. too.

                                                    2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      Not that I disbelieve you, but if this is the case then why is it that everyone gets so uppity about tips being in cash? IMO the only reason one would prefer the tip in cash instead of on a credit card is to avoid the paper trail involved. I always get in arguments w/ the gf when we pay w/ CC as she always wants to put the tip in cash, I'd rather put it on the CC for various reasons but among them to prevent the server from evading their taxes

                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                        Putting the tip on a credit card means that either the restaurant or the server loses a percentage of the tip amount to transaction fees.

                                                        1. re: k.strang

                                                          Then don't accept credit cards. Problem solved.

                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                            That works in some areas, but by and large, a business is dead if it does not accept plastic. I am fairly certain that most chains do not take the surcharge out of tips, but smaller businesses may feel forced to do so. I think that people who want to support small businesses can do better by also paying in cash, or at least leaving the tip in cash. I am not saying that anyone has to do this, but I am just providing the reason why one might prefer to do so.

                                                            All things being equal, I want my favorite restaurant owner to get that money rather than the card companies. Of course, I also appreciate being able to use my debit card everywhere, for all of the reasons that have been advertised at me since birth. Odd how that works.

                                                            1. re: k.strang

                                                              A place can choose to accept plastic or not. If they're "dead" without it, then clearly it is in their best interest to accept it.

                                                              1. re: k.strang

                                                                Here's one that has survived for a bit


                                                                Note the "ATM on premises" comment.

                                                                Some do and some do not

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  I thought k strang's statement was quite broad. I've eaten at plenty of restaurants all over the country, urban and not, high and low end and some don't take credit cards nor have an ATM on site.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    agrred, many take cards and fail, many do not take crads and fail and then success with both as well.

                                                                    Love the ATM just sitting there inthe middle of a 20 x 20 foot storefront in Philly.

                                                            2. re: k.strang

                                                              Eating a meal in a restaurant requires that the restaurant buy food. Like food costs, credit card transaction fees are part of the cost of doing business.

                                                    3. re: Karl S

                                                      It is up to each person to claim his/her earnings and that isn't something I worry about when I decide about tip. The restaurant I mentioned in response to you below that I frequent doesn't have any servers on staff, just the two male owners doing everything. In this case, I'm assuming the government will easily determine one (or both) of them must be receiving tips.

                                                      Whatever the case, I just can't see any of you who stand by the position of not tipping the owner believing that when one eats in their little restaurant one shouldn't tip them. They are two older fellows and have been doing this a long time, perhaps more than 20 years, and I have never seen them turn down a tip. They are the service. And, in many other restaurants an owner may see him/herself this way, despite the fact that he/she owns all/part of the shares.

                                                  2. re: Karl S

                                                    Perhaps that was true fifty years ago, but I completely disagree.

                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                      I learned this in the 1980s, and still know young people who have learned this too. It's quite quite alive as social custom.

                                                      Amy Vanderbilt's 1995 edition still has the customary injunction against tipping owners.

                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                        I AM a young person with many, many friends and acquaintences. I've never once heard mention of not tipping the owner and would be mortified not to.

                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                          Fine. Just realize that people who don't tip owners aren't necessarily merely being cheap, but probably following what they understand the custom to be. Really simple.

                                                          A good friend of mine owns a hair salon. There are still people who don't tip him when he cuts their hair - he gets tipped by some but other still adhere to the longstanding custom.

                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                            We're roughly the same age, and I've always been told that the owner of any establishment (food or otherwise) is not tipped. I usually still do, but only because everyone wants a freaking tip these days and I'd rather not come off as a complete miser, but FWIW ....

                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                              I'm in my mid 50s, I was brought up being told that one does not tip owners. The owners get the profit and proceeds of the sales, the workers get low pay and tips.
                                                              The one exception of a worker not to be tipped was not in food, but one never tipped the barber in the first chair of a multi-barber barber shop. Traditionally the first chair was either occupied by the owner, or in his absence a barber manager who got a hefty percentage of all the other barbers' fees. He assigned waiting customers to the barbers and made sure he got the most business and no down time.

                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                that is how jfood was taught as well. Except if the first chair was a car or locomotive for the kids haircut. :-)

                                                                1. re: bagelman01

                                                                  I am a generation younger than you, and the convention of not tipping an owner is something I certainly was never taught. What I have learned from daily experience is that in many cases the owner of the business is also getting low pay...

                                                                  Being a woman, the barber shop experience is something I have no experience. So, I did an Internet search about tips and the barber at the first chair, and one of the first results I got was a recommendation for a barbershop in Indianapolis, in which the poster recommends the owner, who has the first chair, and advises to tip AT LEAST 15% because the cut deserves it. Are times changing?



                                                                  1. re: Full tummy


                                                                    Do the links you posted mean something other than an advertisement and a nice story? Just curious, the second was nice.

                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                      Just that others grew up/are growing up with a different convention, that's all. That some barbershop owners are expecting tips, and that some customers are expecting to tip them. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                        No, after a couple of cups of coffee, your post was more clear than jfood's focus.

                                                                        An owner receives a cut of everyone's new-doo as well as 100% of his/her cuts. Tipping just seems wrong here as well as with the owner of a restaurant.

                                                              2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                Thank you. My husband decided to do some research into this last night and learned that in the past Karl S would be very right. Times have changed, though, and now tipping the owner is no longer considered an affront. With all due respect to people of different ages, I think that some of the divide is a result of this.

                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                  has your husband found the same level of information that times have changed as he did when he told you that "in the past" or is this just an opinion.

                                                                2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                  Well, you've heard of it now. As I noted below, Miss Manners still says it's improper. And per Karl S, Amy Vanderbilt agrees with her.

                                                                  Do I agree with them? No, I think that in this day and age you should leave a tip. I don't know of any business owner who would be offended, even though I know a few who will politely decline.

                                                                  But you can't claim that those on the other side of this issue are acting incorrectly. 50 years ago they would have been indisputably right and you would have been indisputably wrong. In 50 years maybe they will be wrong and you will be right. But currently the custom is going through a transitional phase, and nobody is clearly right or wrong.

                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                    I would say that this transition is muddied somewhat by the shifting justifications for the custom of tipping. This shift started when the IRS started imputed income to servers so that, if servers were not tipped enough, they'd have to withholding based on income they did not receive (owners were responsible under fair labor laws for making up some difference, but not all owners were conscientious in this regard) - so the one justification for tipping that has since become popular might be called the we're-taxed-as-if-you-tipped-us-right-so-we're-doubly-screwed-if-you-don't argument - but the problem with the tipping-the-owner scenario is that it does not partake of this shift in justification. So it's in something of a no-mans-land in that regard.

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      I said I tip on service received.
                                                                      I said I would be mortified. As in me, myself.

                                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                        I'm in total agreement with you that tipping based on service received is appropriate. But you said that you'd "never once heard mention of not tipping the owner." In fact, it's only fairly recently that tipping the owner has become acceptable, and there are places where it still isn't. Not that that fact should change your behavior at all, but it might influence the way you look at others' decisions.

                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes


                                                                          The problem with tipping as a social custom is that (1) it's a custom and shifts in the custom are slow and uneven and not necessarily protected from reversal, and (2) people who might not be fully aware of the landscape of the custom sometimes, directly or indirectly, deem other people as cheap or unthinking when they've not placed themselves far enough along the curve of a shifting shift, as it were. It behooves people who might be expecting tips to understand that receiving less than what they've come to expect might not mean the same thing from the other side's perspective or understanding. That way, unnecessary resentment and self-righteousness can be avoided.

                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                            I had an adult student from Korea stay with me for some time. He went to a restaurant and came home flustered after getting a lecture from the waitress about his tip...he hadn't left one. Apparently, according to him, they don't tip in Korea.

                                                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                                                              When you visit other cultures you are suppose to learn the customs. The student was wrong for not tipping.

                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                In all fairness, I don't think this is a matter of right and wrong, KT... Surely it is not possible to learn all such things before arriving in a country. Anyway, I was not posting in order to set him up to be judged right or wrong...Just to say that whether from another country, another generation, whatever, there are sometimes things we see differently than others. That was my point.

                                                                                The experience the student had was part of learning the customs, and his lesson was very effective, as much as he resented it. I had to explain to him that when he looked at a menu and saw $10.00, he needed to not read that as $10.00, but $10.00 plus tax and tip, or $13.00 approximately. Taxes are also different in Korea.

                                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                  When I go to other countries I read up on the country I'm going to be visiting and just about any guide will list certain customs to adhere. Tipping is a big one and is always listed. I'm not trying to be harsh but it doesn't take very much to learn the basics so as not to insult (or in this case stiff) your host country.

                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                    The fellow could barely speak English, let alone read an English guide. I am not sure what types of guides they have in Korea for travel, and unless you have read such a Korean guide, I don't think you can say for sure just what information they provide. One would think he should know, but we don't need to play the blame game.

                                                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                      I's be shocked if Korean travel guides don't have a list of customs and etiquette but it's possible they don't. Any Korean's or readers of Korean care to chime in?

                                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                        Wow, I guess it's really important to determine whether he was at fault...

                                                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                          Well, I know who was at fault. That's not a question in my mind. My question is about Korean guide books.

                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                            But my post wasn't even about fault in the first place. Just differences. Why turn it into a topic about fault?

                                                                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                              I take it that your point was that tipping or not is cultural. My point is that one conforms to the culture that they find themselves.

                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                Yup, I fully agree. Our whole system is founded upon the idea that servers will be tipped. So, one must tip, unless one is seriously dissatisfied with one's server.

                                                                                    2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                      What guides often fail to do is convey (or convey well) the seriousness of a particular custom, and the reactions one might get if one fails to observe it. Many Americans have likewise learned this the hard way, even trying to learn the customs of other places.

                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                        Agreed. Also, the restaurant this man was eating in was a Korean restaurant. And the waitress was Korean, so I think he was doubly surprised, thinking he's eating with people of similar customs.

                                                                                        I remember when traveling in various countries in Europe there were definitely places where tipping was not expected (according to the Guide) as it is here. However, because I was eating in restaurants that largely catered to tourists, in some cases, they clearly were receiving and expecting tips as they do here.

                                                                                    3. re: Full tummy

                                                                                      Going back to the early 1970s, Miami Beach had a great influx of South American tourists during our summer, their winter.
                                                                                      In South America it was common for the service to be included in the price and tipping beyond leaving the odd coins of the change did not exist.
                                                                                      Miami area restaurants started printing 'Service Not Included' in English and Spanish on their menus.

                                                                                      However, tipping is a local custom.

                                                                                      In 1961, our family vacationed in California. I had lunch with my grandmother in an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. The waitress chased us across the street to hand my grandmother some coins, saying "madam, you forgot your change.' At that time tipping was not common in the area.

                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                        That last part is just plain weird. I've lived in LA since 1959, and my wife was born here (in 1946). Tipping has ALWAYS been common in this area

                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                          "In 1961, our family vacationed in California. I had lunch with my grandmother in an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. The waitress chased us across the street to hand my grandmother some coins, saying "madam, you forgot your change.' At that time tipping was not common in the area."

                                                                                          Are you sure? I suspect it was more like "if you're only going to leave a few coins you need this money more than I do" - I've seen servers do that, although I think it's a little rude. But I was never in California in '61, the first time was '79 and tipping was expected then.

                                                                                          1. re: hsk

                                                                                            Actually, the bill came to 65 cents for grancmother's tea and sandwich, and she left the 35 cents given in change. This happened in Santa Monica, I don't remember the name of the restaurant.

                                                                                            I do remember that tipping at home on the east coast was about 10% in those days.

                                                                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                            I think the waitress was being sarcastic. We always tipped when I grew up in California in the 50s and 60s.

                                                                                        2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                          And a "mentor" can teach the customs. We were in Hawaii many years ago with our daughters. They were old enough to go next door for pizza while we went to the nice seafood place that they didn't want to go to. I talked to them about when and how much to tip.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            More people need to teach their children about tipping. Not too long ago there was a birthday party with a bunch of 21 year olds at a bar I use to work at and not one of them tipped. Zero. All night no tips. AT some point he just upped the price of every drink by a dollar. Ethical or legal? Probably not but it happens and I don't blame him.

                                                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                That is a good one. I wonder how unusual it is. Surely there must have been one at the table who worked/had worked/knew someone who worked as a server/bartender/busser...

                                                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                  These were rich kids. I doubt any of them have ever had a real job. Maybe an internship at one of mommy or daddy's friends firms but they certainly wouldn't have worked at a restaurant. I wouldn't be surprised if their parents weren't great tippers either. As most bartenders will tell you blue collar customers are almost always better tippers then white collar ones.

                                                                                                2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                  when jfood was in college there were some bars where a group to drink all night and receive a $20 bill. They left $150, nice tip. jfood thought that was extremely unethical as well.

                                                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                    years ago i tended bar near a dental school and a law school. groups of guys would come in, act obnoxiously and round after round not tip. after a few rounds of being stiffed, i'd shut them off and have them thrown out. they'd yell "we always get thrown out, every time we come here!!" "yeah, well, if you learned how to tip and behave we might let you stay."

                                                                                                    sometimes i would hear,"i go to a very expensive school. i can't afford to tip." to which i'd reply, "if you can't afford to tip me, that means you can't afford to drink here."

                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                        Lol, I bet you'd have over looked the cheapness if they weren't so obnoxious. I have 2 stories to share.

                                                                                                        Just yesterday a freind told me that on Saturday a guy asked to settle his tab. It came to $38.50. He got the CC reciept and left exactly $1.50 as a tip. When confronted he acted like an obnoxious ass. He was thrown out. As my friend said, "In his mind he thought he was thrown out for being cheap but I was ready to forgive that but his attitude is what got him thrown out."

                                                                                                        Second story. A few months ago I was in the bar of a friend. I'm there most Thursdays and a big group come in afterwork. There is one guy who orders the same drink every week and leaves no tip. After 4 straight weeks my friend took the order, collected the money for the drink and brought back his change and said, "Here's you change and by change I mean the dollar you should be leaving as a tip." The guy look mortified and left the dollar as a tip. The guy tips every time now.

                                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                          If were the owner of either of those restaurants/bars I would have fired the bartenders on the spot for being rude to my customers.

                                                                                                            1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                              One of the bartenders was the owner, lol!

                                                                                                              1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                this was not a fine dining joint. we served jello shots, ok?

                                                                                                                if you had to be on the receiving of very loud inappropriate sexual remarks from these guys, you might feel differently. they acted like total a**holes.

                                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                  h-noodle, I was replying to KTinNYC's post, not yours.

                                                                                                                2. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                  So Mods, what you're saying is that I just can't reply to kmcarr, no matter how much I modify my post to make it on-topic..

                                                                                                                3. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                  To be honest, that second story is similar to how I learned that bartenders were due tips. When I was in college I never saw anyone leave tips at the bar so it just never occurred to me. I moved to Boston and not too long after that I was chastised ... live & learn.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                    did your parents never take you to a restaurant with table service?

                                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                      Yes, but they never took me to a bar. Last time I checked, bartenders aren't involved with "restaurant with table service"

                                                                                                                    2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                      I guess while parents may take kids to restaurants and kids get to learn that tipping happens there, parents never take kids to bars!!! So, kids learn what to do in a bar from the other kids...

                                                                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                                        Exactly ... it wasn't like I was some bumpkin who wasn't tipping in a sea of ever so generous people. I literally never saw anyone ever tip at a bar ... when I went back the following year people thought I was out of my mind for leaving money. "Why are you doing that? That's crazy"

                                                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                          no, parents don't take kids to bars (i hope), but i remember quite clearly my parents explaining about tipping in restaurants, as well as bars, and bartenders at weddings and such :"all these people work for tips and if you tip them well, they take better care of you." when i did start going to bars, my mother reminded me again.

                                                                                                                          my friends in high school and college apparen;ty also all got the same lesson, and all tipped.

                                                                                                                          the dental school guys who regularly stiffed were the exception not the norm. i certainly couldn't have afforded to live if *nobody* tipped. sometimes i think people are mistaken in what they think they see.

                                                                                                                4. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                  I've always called this adding an A**hole tax ;)

                                                                                                                  1. re: corneygirl

                                                                                                                    Yup, trust me, I know the owners of the other bar and they have no problem with the way their bartenders act. Both the bars I wrote about are very successful bars in Manhattan and have been open for more then 10 years each. They know something about running their business' and I could really care less what others think about the bars.

                                                                                                            2. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                              Yes, in many countries they do not tip, or tips are unusual, or they tip less. Someone from outside the US from such a place who has not consulted manuals on restaurant customs in the US would not know that. Then again, the compensation structure for servers in the US is, well, bizarre to anyone from a more rational land.

                                                                                                              Then the variations on how a tip is given: Americans might find they are considered rude in other lands when they fail to (1) put the tip under a plate or some such, or (2) give the tip by hand to the server. Et cet.

                                                                                                              Of course, Chowhound's most popular non-board would be Etiquette and Tipping. There's a reason they don't have it....

                                                                                              2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                i agree whole heartedly. that said, i feel that if an owner received a tip, it goes into a pool and is distributed somehow so that those relying on tip income are the beneficiaries.

                                                                                              3. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                this is not talking about owners who serve, it it is about owners to take a share of the their employees tips

                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                  Actually, it seems to be about both, which is the way most have responded to it. The OP hasn't corrected anyone yet, but perhaps you know better what the OP is thinking...

                                                                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                    Absolutely! The original post is CLEARLY about both. Unless there's some new custom where you tip the owner for just ........ owning?

                                                                                                    "Should an owner be tipped by the customer?
                                                                                                    and Should the owner accept tips from it's staff at the end of their shifts?"

                                                                                                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                    Currently working as a waiter, I believe you should tip whoever is serving you, however, when it comes to the owner serving you, I believe the correct thing for HIM/HER to do is to forward that tip to the bar and bussers.

                                                                                                  3. re: Karl S

                                                                                                    i am in massachusetts. management cannot skim tips, in other words, can't take the FOH tips, divvy them up, keep some, and then dole out the rest. they cannot take tips and pay the kitchen, host, maitre d', or bookie. that it's illegal doesn't mean it doesn't happen.


                                                                                                    if you know an owner is behind the bar, working a regular shift, do you not tip? in a stand-up establishment, that tip would be split with all FOH staff. so you stiff everybody?

                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                      I go to a little restaurant here in Toronto, owned by two very nice men. One cooks, the other serves. They have no staff. They do the cleaning and prepping themselves. So, I shouldn't tip?

                                                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                        Yes, it is proper to always leave a tip.

                                                                                                    2. What about credit card tips? Aren't restaurants charged a percentage of the total transaction? Shouldn't the owner be able to keep whatever percentage he's being charged by the credit card company?

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: soypower

                                                                                                        NO, the owner should not be able to KEEP the percentage being charged by the credit card company.

                                                                                                        YES, The owner can arrange by prior agreement with the waitstaff to have the establishment reimbursed for the credit card percentage on the tip,

                                                                                                        BUT>>>>the owner who does that is a cheap fool. He will tick off the staff who are there to help him earn profits. The percentage is cheap compared to the cost of unhappy staff.

                                                                                                        I have been to establishments, who do not permit the tip to be added to the credit card. This hurts the waitstaff. It also discourages a return visit. If my dining is to be reimbursed or deducted as a business expense our auditors want it all on the credit card receipt. Some companies will not reimburse cash expenses.

                                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                          YES, The owner can arrange by prior agreement with the waitstaff to have the establishment reimbursed for the credit card percentage on the tip,


                                                                                                          i worked for owners who did this and it was just a small piece of the picture of how miserly and awful they were. the turnover there was astonishing. imagine that.

                                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                            Agree 100%... very cheap to deduct it from the servers tip.... Thank you!

                                                                                                        2. Here's a website with legal information related to servers' tips. It clearly states that the owner is not entitled to any portion of the employees' tips, but that employees may choose to pool and divide tips with other employees, if they so choose. (I gather from further reading that this varies from place to place, so you should check with the government in your area.)


                                                                                                          Here in Ontario, the minimum wage a restaurant can pay to a server who serves alcohol as a routine part of his/her job is about 15% lower than others' minimum wage, specifically because servers are expected to receive tips.

                                                                                                          1. As to whether the owner (or other manager) is entitled to a portion of the servers' tips, just ask Starbucks. Shift supervisors there apparently do double duty as baristas and, until recently, shared in the proceeds from the tip jar. But last year a San Diego County Superior Court judge ordered the company to disgorge more than $100 million to its servers for tips "shared" by shift supervisors. Ouch.

                                                                                                            Tipping the owner is a more delicate proposition. One school of thought is rooted in the distinction between the merchant class and the service class. Under that school of thought, tipping a business owner is an insult - it implies that you consider him or her a servant. Miss Manners still insists that it is inappropriate for a customer to tip the owner, or for the owner to expect a tip.

                                                                                                            The "don't tip the owner" school of thought makes some economic sense, too. In the first place, an owner who replaces a server sees an increase in income greater than the server's wages, since the owner saves not only those wages, but also their direct and indirect burden (employment taxes, work comp insurance, etc.) And owners have more control over their income levels than servers do; it's the owner, after all, who sets the prices, thus determining the amount of profit they receive from each transaction.

                                                                                                            But nowadays the whole rigid class structure thing seems a little silly. And we all know that many restaurant owners are struggling to survive in this economy. Finally, while the owner of a hair salon may just charge 20+% more than an employee for the same service, food and drink in a restaurant cost the same no matter who serves them. So IMO tipping the owner is appropriate.

                                                                                                            1. The owner should NOT take tips from staff. At the places I work if I work with the boss and they receive tips they either split the tips they receive among the other staff working, or else use the money to by drinks for regular customers.

                                                                                                              1. I think if an owner is serving, they should get tips like any other server. I go to small family-run restaurants all the time and I'm sure if I didn't tip they wouldn't greet me as welcomingly. Accept tips from staff at the end of their shifts? Why would they offer? If you mean requiring a portion of tips, no they shouldn't.

                                                                                                                1. I owned a struggling wine shop/winebar which I finally sold. Most of the time my wife or I worked alone or together. If we got tips, we kept them. Note: it was kindof an eye-opener to me that many people didn't feel tipping was necessary in such a place mostly, I think, because their perception was that we did the tastings and appetizer service to help sell the wine. The truth was that our profit margin was much higher on the tastings and food service than on bottle sales (due to price competition in the market).

                                                                                                                  We never had a problem with people who didn't tip, just with the idea of it. We saw that part of our business as a bar operation and I think many of the customers equated us to a winery tasting room (we're in California, so people ar every familiar with that type of venue). No one tips in a winery tasting room. Then again, the winery is making twice the profit margin on bottle sales than what a retailer makes. But, I digress.

                                                                                                                  On those occasions when we had help for tasting events, I never touched a tip $ on the theory that, if I wasn't there, the staff person would have served everyone and gotten all the tips. We never made a dime of net profit in that store and never took salaries either, so it could be said that tips were our only income. Finally were able to sell the business. But I never felt it was right to behave in any other way that as if we were profitable. It certainly wasn't any fault of the staff that we picked a year before the recession to open our shop.

                                                                                                                  1. I have owned a medium sized bar and worked shifts on occasion. if i stole shifts from employees they would probably have quit and good employees are difficult to find (at best). I did work slow times solo some times and the tips were a nice addition to the the work. I had a few grills behind the bar along with some fryers and did some short orders while bartending.

                                                                                                                    If I were to take tips from employees, not only would I lose them, I would be shot. Often I would help out in busy times when we had patrons three deep wanting drinks at the bar. I suppose if I worked half the night at the bar, and didn't own the place, I might expect a portion of the pooled tips. But a busy night meant more bottom line... for me.

                                                                                                                    1. I know a family that opened a small restaurant just monthes before the recession hit. One runs the kitchen and the others work the bar and floor a couple of the quiter nights. The tips they make are shared equally between 3 maybe 4 of the siblings. They have not been able to draw a salary. I also know when there are other people on the floor or bar they do not take a penny from them. I hope they can stay in business, it's a terrific place to go.

                                                                                                                      1. When a customer tips me while I am working the register I always throw the money into the tip jar that is shared by the employees at the end of the month. Since I have a handful of employees that like to help themselves to packaged goods and drinks (when they think I am not looking) that are not included in the daily meal plan I would be justified if I were to keep a share of the tip jar but I do not.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: foodseller

                                                                                                                          Since I have a handful of employees that like to help themselves to packaged goods and drinks (when they think I am not looking) that are not included in the daily meal plan I would be justified if I were to keep a share of the tip jar but I do not.

                                                                                                                          The price of doing business. I used to operate juice/snack bars in health clubs. I allowed my employees to eat whatever they wished and two bottles of drinks per shift. I had one employee who thought I did not know that he actually had to himself the meal and two drinks per shift....but he would actually pocket the cost of the meal and the two drinks as well. he thought I wouldn't notice it on an inventory check list......but I reasoned it was better to be out a few dollars at cost which extended to less than $10 charged to customer/members....than outright pocketing money.......say $20 or more per shift.

                                                                                                                        2. Near us is a small owner operated donut shop. The wife - husband owners are the only people running the shop. They have no hired help. There is a tip jar on the counter. My wife always leaves a tip. I don't.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                            I once dropped a tip in the bucket when the owner was the only one working. He gave me my money back and that made me realize that tipping the owner might be insulting. Since then, I have decided that if I want to help a small place, I just buy more. I think sometimes Americans forget what business is all about.