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Are Tips Required for Takeout?

Here's an issue that I wanted to get some opinions on from Hounds. You go to pick up a pizza or a Chinese food order at your favorite local place. You pay with a credit card. You receive the same paperwork as those who are eating at a table in the restaurant. There is a space for a tip. I personally never tip when I'm just picking up an order. But a hostess said to a friend of mine she should get a tip because she placed the order with the kitchen and went and got it from the kitchen when it was ready. Some people have told me they give a smaller tip for takeout. Am I wrong not tipping at all for takeout?

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  1. There was just a recent "Ask Amy" column about this very question and I too do not tip for take out. Delivery....absolutely but not take out.

    1. I always skip right past the tip line and put in just the amount for the food.

      3 Replies
        1. re: MattInNJ

          When you do that, make sure you either cross out the tip line or write 0.00 in it! I have heard of staff (not many, but there are always a few who ruin it for everyone) adding in their own (sometimes substantial) tip.

      1. I think this is tricky. If a host/hostess puts in your order and fetches/readies your food that arguably part of her job, which she is paid at least minimum wage to do.
        However, at one of the restaurants I worked at, wait staff were expected to answer the phone and handle takeout orders as well as look after our tables. This meant that the time I spent putting in a takeout order and specifying special requests when necessary, fetching the food from the kitchen, picking it up when it was read and, making sure the order was correct and complete, packaging it in takeaway bags with utensils and condiments, and handling the payment/making change with the customer, was all time that took away from the time and attention that I could have giving my tables, who I *knew* would be giving me a tip. So yeah, when the takeaway customers gave me no tip, I was annoyed.

        Of course I didn't expect 15-20%, but not to give a dollar or two seemed to say "I am absolutely oblivious to the fact that you spent time and attention on making sure that I have a complete, fresh, and enjoyable meal, so there's no reason for you to do that again next time I'm here."

        For context, this was a very casual bistro-type place on Manhattan's Upper East Side. It was actually rare that I did not get a tip for preparing a takeaway order, because one thing you can say for UES-ers is that they are accustomed to tipping somebody every time they turn around, and it doesn't seem to trouble them much. In other parts of the country, I can imagine tips-for-takeaway being more of an uphill battle for servers, no matter how deserved.

        1. There are many many threads you can find over the years on this very topic, so search to your heart's content if you want to get detailed variations on heated opinions.

          Bottom line: if the person taking care of your takeout order is a server being paid the below-minimum wage wage of servers, having your sale recorded as a sale for the purposes of their withholding, and relying on tip income to make up the difference, you tip. This is normally only true for finer dining establishments that don't have a cashier or other similar person dealing with takeout orders. Otherwise, the only other reason to tip is if you a regular and the practice garners you better service.

          1. I do not tip at certain take out restaurants. Let me explain. There is one restaurant I go to all the time and only get take out. It is a local family owned, operated and they also serve. There are only 4 tables and the majority of the customers are take out. Since the owners prepare are pack the meal up at a counter service restaurant I do not tip. However, if I go to a restaurant to get take out where the waitress has to leave her tables and package the meal I will tip. It all depends on the circumstances...