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Jun 16, 2011 09:13 AM

Do I tip the caterer?

We recently had a BBQ catered event. $25pp. They smoked the meats and put them on warmers. No need to take orders or clean up the tables. Supplied the plates/condiments/stuff. When all is said and done, the bill was $1150. We gave them $100 more and two bottle of wine. It's killing me! Did I tip enough? Do you tip caterers? Is the tip included in the per person price? Do I have to call them with my tail between my legs? FYI, they had the most incredible food and the "service" was stellar.

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  1. Was there a labor charge on the contract? If so, this is often the way tips/pay are disguised for the staff..

    1. If the people who came were the owners of the catering company, and not just paid employees, I think your tip was generous. I think it is analogous to going to a salon and having your hair done. I was taught that if the owner does your hair, no tip since they get to keep all the money paid for the work, whereas you would tip an employee of the salon because a good percentage of what you paid goes to the salon owner. Will be interested in other answers on this.

      1 Reply
      1. re: escondido123

        I think exactly the way you do. This is how I was taught the way it works. I own my business and have never been tipped, but I know my employees have received tips. It's the proper way to me.

      2. Generally, the tip is included, listed as fourunder stated.When l catered, the contract specifically said tips not included, thus no confusion.

        1. You did fIne. Was anything about this mentioned in the agreement between you and the caterer, written or oral?

          4 Replies
          1. re: DPGood

            The caterer is the owner of the company and his 'hired help' was his fiance. They own quite the smoker - surely made me say "Holy Crap!" when I saw them pull that thing into the parking area! He only mentioned that it was $25pp and nothing about gratuity. I just don't want to screw them over because they did such a great job. If you are ever in CT and want incredible BBQ (with this contraption) for your party , the Old Well Tavern in Simsbury surely is the place to go.
            So DPGOOD, I done good ok?

              1. re: birdy30

                I used to work for a private caterer--we had about 10 hired staff. He paid us a flat rate for the night and we got tipped separately about half the time, depending on the crowd. Obviously we appreciated it, though our flat rates were incredibly high for what we were doing (usually worked out to $40-$50 per hour). But I had a roommate years ago who worked for a large catering company and made minimum wage ($6/hour) so she relied on tips.

                Anyway since it was just the owner and his fiance, I think you did just fine. If you were super happy with their service, you could always send a follow-up "Thank You" card. No need for an extra gift or $$$. I would adore getting a thank you days or weeks after the event. It shows they made a lasting impression with their good food and service.

                1. re: birdy30

                  I think you did fine.

                  As other people have said, the owner of the catering company shouldn't be tipped -- of course you can give a "bonus" for a job well done, which is what you did, but the cost of the service should be included in the price they quote you. Sounds like you were dealing with someone who was catering informally, but a catering contract should have a line item for service or state "service included." When you sign the contract you should also clarify with the owner whether the servers will expect to be tipped separately.