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tip on top of catering service charge...how much?

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we are hosting a small party which will be catered, with one chef & one server.
our estimate already includes a service charge but if all goes well, we would probably like to tip a little extra.
questions: should we tip the chef & server the same amount, or does/should one generally get more?
without sounding chintzy, how much is too little? is something like $20 insulting or appreciated?
is there a percentage of the bill that we could use to figure out an appropriate amount?
TIA for your input!

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  1. Some questions for you...

    * How many people are in the small party
    * How many hours will this pair be working
    * Is the Chef the owner of the business
    * Is cleaning expected of either the chef or server
    * Is there a separate Labor charge for either the chef or server
    * What is the service charge already contracted for and what is the percentage
    * Anything above what has been agreed upon should be appreciated in theory
    * The appropriate amount is what you can comfortably afford to give, if you so wish to be so generous above and beyond what you have agreed to on the contract.

    5 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      "Anything above what has been agreed upon should be appreciated in theory"

      Bingo! The chef and server know exactly how much they're getting for the party on the way in. Technically, there's no need to add an additional gratuity. However, I can assure you (industry experience) that even the finest catering chefs/servers aren't paid much, so every bit helps.

      Start by examining your invoice. See what's been charged for the services of each helper. Find out whether the service charge is split between the two, or only given to the server (in lieu of wages).

      Without knowing the details, if the chef and server were over-the-top superb and made for a memorable evening, it goes without saying that you're going to want them back. Tip generously -- 20% over and above what the "service charge" is on invoice.

      If you weren't dazzled by their work, but they did their jobs up to your expectations, then $1 per guest, no less than $20, and rounded up to the $5, is what *I* would give. But I've been in the service business and am accused by spouse and friends of over-tipping.

      And by all means tip them if for some reason more people show up for the party than you estimate.

      If the chef is an owner, he/she should not receive a gratuity.

      1. re: shaogo

        But I've been in the service business and am accused by spouse and friends of over-tipping.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        What goes around comes around my friend......

        Her's my scale.....

        $10.........Have a drink/beer on me

        $20.........Put some gas in your car on me

        $50+.......Thank you very much.....I really appreciated your efforts.

        s,

        btw........Asumming the party goes well, even if the chef was the owner, I would still give a gratuity....also, I would give the same amount to both, the chef and the server......if the chef is the owner, hopefully he would have enough class to give his share to his employee.......

        1. re: fourunder

          "But I've been in the service business and am accused by spouse and friends of over-tipping."

          But did you ever when you were in the service business consider yourself over-tipped? ;-) yeah....yeah few tip getters can honestly say they were over tipped, but alot of people claim they "over-tipped"

          shaogo's advice, while, strict in MHO, is a good place to start Tho' I would disagree about the owner thing. In today's ecomony, one bids and prices extremely close, and consider, a good business owner with a good staff knows that it;s better to take from one's own pocket to give to a good staff member who might have been ummm stiffed.

          1. re: Quine

            >>"did you ever when you were in the service business consider yourself over-tipped?"<<

            Not to speak for shaogo, and it's been a few decades since I was in the restaurant business, but, to answer your question - yes.

            Not that any extra money isn't welcome, but a disproportionately large tip is a little awkward. I mean, you hope that the person has only good intentions, but it's a little weird. Have they made a mistake? Are they clueless? Do they expect something other than having their meal served?

            Overtipping is bad from, as is undertipping. Much less resented, but still not within the social norm.

      2. re: fourunder

        *8 people in the party
        *approx 6 hours of work
        *chef is NOT the owner
        *they are cleaning up afterwards (we are using our own china, which has to be handwashed)
        *there is a separate labor charge which is not split out, so i can't tell who is making what
        *the service charge is $150 on a total bill of about $1400 after tax (600 for food, 570 for service charge)

        --fourunder, i tried to place this underneath your answer but it doesn't want to go. thanks.

      3. Back when I used to do a lot of catering, tips ranged from $20-$100, with most being in the lower range. And most people didn't tip, which was perfectly fine, since the service charge paid us pretty well. But I never considered $20 at the end of the night cheap, it was always nice to get a little bonus.