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Mar 4, 2012 04:10 PM

Tipping at places with counter service

I'm sure this question, or a variation of it, comes up a lot, but I've been on the Manhattan board for a while and haven't seen it, and I tried several different searches and couldn't find anything on point.

I know that there's some debate about whether it's necessary to tip on take-out, but believe that the general consensus is "no." If you accept that as a given, what about those places (like a number of hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants with big photographs of the food on the walls with captions in cheesy yellow lettering) that are primarily take-out places but have some tables and chairs set up? If you go up to the counter, place your order, pay, wait, pick up your food at the counter, bring it to a table, sit down, and eat, do you need to tip?

What about places that seem to have a reasonable number of people eat in, but that give you your food at the counter, make you pay when you order, and don't actually wait on you? My theory has generally been that I don't need to tip even if I sit down and eat at such places, but I'm starting to go to a couple of them once every week or two and am starting to worry that I'm being cheap or a freeloader. On the other hand...if I don't tip at Chipotle, why would I have to tip at the Turkish place down the street that serves its food the same way?

And if you do tip at places like that, how much?


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  1. I agree that I generally don't feel the need to tip, but at some places (Katz's, for example) I usually do. At Katz's, I leave $5 on the table.

    Katz's Delicatessen
    205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

    1. This topic is not Manhattan specific. As such it has been covered AD NAUSEUM on the Not About Food board.

      Seriously, there are dozens of posts on this with dozens of responses.

      Search for TIPPING on that board and you'll get more opinions on that topic than you thought possible.

      7 Replies
      1. re: thegforceny

        Word. Here are five posts on the same tired topic. There are more. A lot more. A whole lot more. Anything you want to know about this subject has already been asked and answered. Over and over and over.

        1. re: small h

          Four of the five threads you linked to address tipping on take-out, which is explicitly not what I asked about and potentially quite different from the situation I described, in which I pay at the counter and then sit down for 20-30 minutes and eat 10 feet away from the guy I just declined to tip.

          The thread on tip jars was marginally on point, so thanks for that.

          1. re: Garlic Guy

            Fair enough. But your question was whether you "need" to tip. That's between you and you. A lightning bolt will not strike you dead if you don't tip. The staff of the restaurant won't surround you and pelt you with rotten fruit if you don't tip. Nor will a contingent of law enforcement officers swoop in and cart you off to Riker's if you don't tip. So tip if you want, or don't tip if you don't want, and feel free to peruse the 8,000,000 extant tipping threads for posts in support of either position.

            1. re: small h

              Sorry about the mini-rant. I guess I've reached my tipping thread tipping point.

              1. re: small h

                I know tipping threads annoy me as well. You so seldom see ones that say" Opps, I under tipped, how can I fix it?"

          2. re: small h

            I really think we need a "Non-tippers Anonymous" Or A "tightwads are us".

          3. re: thegforceny

            YES! Many, Many topics, posts and comments all on the same theme: "please help me justify why I don't tip?"

            Face it, it's one of the most popular "Not About Food" topics. So, you don't tip, why should anyone besides you justify that to you? Accept that you find excuses not to tip. Move on.

            The only topic I ever read here after years on that was more miserly and self centered, was someone who wanted CHers to help him justify "selling tickets" to his annual (some holiday) group gathering. This person felt that since food costs had gone up, to make "his standards" more than he wanted to spend, should be paid for by his guests.

          4. Would it really kill you to leave a buck.....especially if at a place on your regular rotation.?

            1. If you feel cheap/really like the place etc. then tip... It is generally not considered compulsory, but if I pay cash and there is a tip jar out I at least throw in any coins I receive as change. If I get what I deem to be good service I throw in a dollar or two. If food is delivered or drinks refilled I tip a bit more.

              1. If I have a simple and inexpensive order (drip coffee to-go, for example) I probably won't tip, but for things that are more complex (a dozen customized meals/latte orders for the office) I usually will, especially if the order is accurate and/or completely ready at the agreed upon pick-up time.

                If it's a place where you order at the counter, then take your food and sit down I'll usually throw a couple of bucks in the tip jar on my way out if I was satisfied with the food, service, and general appearance or cleanliness of the area. I NEVER fill out the tip portion of the receipt before I've had a chance to experience the place.

                I could be off-base, but if I were an employee I would feel more proud if a customer tipped on their way out and said a polite "thanks, it was great!" rather than someone impulsively tossing whatever change they received from the transaction into the jar.

                1 Reply
                1. re: d8200

                  Thanks, d8200, for that very helpful response. I don't think the various places I've been going to have a tip jar, just the "tip" line on the credit card statement, but I'll pay more attention in the future.

                  Maybe I should just tip generously every few visits instead of a little at a time. I don't know, it just feels more natural that way.