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Mar 25, 2012 11:07 PM

Tips on tipping - pleeease [moved from Manhattan board}

Now it drives me nuts, just because at the end of a meal and some wine (ok, and some more wine) I find tipping a hassle - having to do maths and what hour and after.... Down under (NZ, Aussie etc) wait staff get salaries and then tips are the 'bonus', not the wage. Anyway, my questions are:
- what is the standard % to tip in NY for food
- does one tip other people like cab drivers
- if two of you spend say $800 or so (on a big night out e.g. 20th anniversary) for 2 then is the tip % the same as for smaller meals? Sorry, just asking as that would mean that at these places (we are booking 4 or so for an 18 night holiday) the staff would be paid...$$$$$$$

Not wanting to be cheap - just clear and appropriate in my behaviour:)

Thanks in advance. Cheers, Stu

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  1. " what is the standard % to tip in NY for food"

    20%. Should include food and beverages. We don't tip on the tax (nearly 9%) though some people do.

    "does one tip other people like cab drivers"


    "if two of you spend say $800 or so (on a big night out e.g. 20th anniversary) for 2 then is the tip % the same as for smaller mYes.


    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      This is (as expected from RGR) the right advice.

      One additional thing to look out for is places that include gratuity in the bill. Some more touristy places do (and should tell you, but it is worth looking at the bill to be sure) as does Per Se. In that instance, no additional tip is required, but you can leave more if you think it appropriate (or, if something truly terrible happened, speak to a manager about leaving less).

      1. re: nmprisons

        I agree that if the service is terrible, the tip should be decreased. How much depends on how bad the problems were. Speaking to the manager about the situation is a good idea, but one certainly doesn't need anyone's permission to do so (your phrasing made it sound as if one does).

        1. re: RGR

          Fair enough. Typically they will have already added the gratuity to the bill and I imagine that, if the service was bad enough to dock the server, you would probably want to mention something to the manager anyway. Since the manager is likely needed to reduce the amount charged to your card, it might make sense to do the thing in one fell swoop, but I agree that this is not something that has to be approved by the house.

    2. Tipping in New York restaurants is very simple. 20% on the total pre-tax amount, unless you are merely drinking at the bar, in which case $1 a drink is common. Also, if you just sit down at a place and order coffee from a waiter (someone who gives you table service, not simply a counterman), still tip at least $1, even if that's more than 20% of the pre-tax amount.

      If you aren't willing to tip 20% on an expensive meal, go to a less expensive restaurant or order less expensive items.

      Tipping in any other setting is off-topic for this forum, and there are other many other more general forums where you can check on tipping in the US in general.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Pan

        Many people still use the "easy method" of doubling the tax. I don't feel that is enough of a tip. I tip 20 % on the whole bill ( with the tax included). If the service is not good, I reduce the tip down to about 15%. If my beverages are over $300 ( for 2 people) I don't give 20% on the beverage portion. i.e. If i buy $1000 Chateau Latour, the waiter did nothing more than he would have done if I ordered a $40 bottle, they should not get 20% on expensive beverages. Many people take out all beverages and tax and then tip 18-20%. That said, if I get exceptional service I give 25% on the whole bill. It seems very much appreciated, especially places that I frequent. Tips are shared with busboys, servers, etc so it is not all going to the waiter. They do appreciate cash tips in many restaurants, as stated in other posts, charged tips get taxed. In smaller places, sometimes charged tips do not get paid to waiters immediately. To sum up 20% on the whole bill is a very nice tip.

        1. re: foodwhisperer

          I really disagree with you on beverages. If you have table service, you tip 20% on beverages, too. Otherwise, don't get that $1,000 wine; buy it at a wine store for less and have it at home.

          And my solution is that I would never even think of paying that much for any meal. The most expensive wine I've ever ordered was $92.

          1. re: Pan

            But my meal is at Restaurant Daniel, and having the ultimate wine, back in my hotel, is not the same.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Right. So tip 20% on the wine then. If you can afford $1,000 for wine, you can afford $1,200 for wine plus tip. Otherwise, get an $800 wine.

              1. re: Pan

                Whatever floats your boat.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  I agree with Bill.

                  No need to tip 20% on any alcohol. It is a drink brought to my table just like a tea, coffee, or soft drink. It's just a lot more expensive. If you have a sommelier involved then you can add a little extra but whether I order a $30 bottle of wine or a $1000 bottle of champagne, 20% is not appropriate on that item. Tip on the service, not the food. Use the cost of the meal as your baseline. If I'm at the bar, I tip $1 per drink no matter the cost.

                  For a meal, look at your food cost and if you had fantastic service, tip 20%. Good service but not outstanding, tip 15-18%. If you had horrible service, let the manager know and tip less than 15%. This is very fair and most waitstaff will agree. Nobody can correct actions or behavior unless you tell them about it. Good or bad, I usually speak to a manager and tell them about my meal and service. My dad was in the restaurant business for 40 years, this is what we learned to do.

                  I usually tip 15-20% on food and 10% on high cost alcohol. Leave the tax out of it and watch out for large groups where the tip is automatically added.

                  If you can't afford to tip or think it is not needed, don't eat out in the US.

                  1. re: blueclaw666

                    For my 20% wine tip, a lot goes into it. It is not just fill a glass from an open bottle.

                    I will not argue that there is probably no need, but when the wine service is worth it, I never hesitate. Some do, and they have their personal reasons for it. I have mine.



            2. re: Pan

              "you tip @0% on beverages, too"

              No, I don't think so. You tip 20% on the service.

        2. Also remember tipping on your credit card gets taxed so the server probably gets 30% less than they would if you tip in cash. This should not impact the amount you tip just an FYI

          15 Replies
          1. re: princeofpork3

            How does it reduce tip 30%, shouldn't it be 3% credit card charge? Arn't cash tips taxed?

            1. re: phantomdoc

              Either they put the $50 tip in their pocket if cash, or it goes on the CC gets put on their paycheck and is taxed @ 30%. The $50 tip just became $35
              I am making the assumption that the standard server will not report tips as taxable income at the end of the year.

              1. re: princeofpork3

                A server reports tips as taxable income, by law, but I like the idea of giving her/him cash so they have that tip immediately.

                1. re: latindancer

                  Do you really think servers report all of their cash tips?

                    1. re: MVNYC

                      I couldn't say...however I do believe it's the law, isn't it?

                      1. re: latindancer

                        When you tip on the credit card it automatically gets reported. Cash tips have too be manually reported. If you think 100% of cash tips are reported then I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

                    2. re: latindancer

                      I would estimate less than 20% of servers report their tips as taxable income.

                      1. re: princeofpork3

                        I believe the ln NJ, is that minimum wage for servers is $2.13, with the remaining $5.12 (to reach the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25) expected to be made in tips. If the tips do not cover that amount, the employer is required to make up the difference. So if I only make $3.oo in tips per hour, the employer must pay me the $2.12 to make my total of $7.25 per hour. So you betcha tips are reported. At least the amount needed for the employer to show minimum wage requirements have been met.

                        1. re: princeofpork3

                          A but the IRS has caught on, and estimates cash tips based on credit card tips. If they don't report a very similar amount, they can very easily get dinged for an audit.

                          1. re: tzurriz

                            You are correct...thus my point , the entire "tipping" gratuity system was completely manipulated by our government for the purpose of making sure workers and owners pay taxes!

                            1. re: PHREDDY

                              If that were so, then wouldn't a better solution be to eliminate tipping and pay servers a regular wage? The "government" would be better served by eliminating tipping.

                            2. re: tzurriz

                              Only 1% of taxpayers earning less than $200,000 annually are audited (which covers virtually all servers), so the odds of a server being audited are very, very small.

                      2. re: phantomdoc

                        I think pop3 was implying that 30% of whatever tip you leave will be going to the IRS rather than the server...

                    3. For standard service, we do 20% on the pre-tax amount. For better service, 20% on the complete amount - doesn't come out to much difference (20% of 9% is only an additional 1.8%). For above and beyond, I'll round it up even further, to 25% or so

                      That said, I know we tip higher than average. Most people it's 20% on pre-tax, and that's that.

                      Also, I make an attempt to tip in cash when possible. At some restaurants the tips are pooled and wind up getting taxed anyway, but if there's a chance the waitstaff doesn't need to report cash... I try to do them that favor.

                      Also, if just having drinks at a bar - $1 per drink is fine for beers, glasses of wine, simple drinks - when getting into fancy cocktails that require a bit of work (i.e. when they start costing $15+), I like to tip a little more - the standard 20%, rounded to the nearest dollar.

                      1. As long as we are on the topic of tipping I usually give $2 per coat at the coat check and have never found a reason to tip the Matre D, or hostess. $2-3 to the valet parker as well.

                        11 Replies
                          1. re: princeofpork3

                            That is about what we tip.

                            For the valet, if it's wife's car, I tip US$ 5.00 going in, and then US$ 5.00 coming out. If it's a rental, then the fare does often go down a bit.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              WOW that seems excessive unless your wife drives a Ferrari

                                1. re: princeofpork3

                                  No, she drives a Mercedes Benz S AMG Lorinser. So far, all valets have taken great care of her, and especially as the major, local valet service is employed by her. Still, a tip, going in, and coming out is my way of saying "thank you."


                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                  You're paying the $5 going in to insure your wife's car is taken car of.
                                  It sounds like it would be, regardless if you paid or not based on her status, however at places here in parts of LA I pay more than the $5 going in...
                                  It's just one nice car after another so the standard of tip goes up.
                                  $20 will get it insured, hopefully.

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    For me, going in with a US $ 5, and her VIP status with the major valet, has always insured good treatment. The tires are usually not too hot, when the car is delivered.

                                    At most local restaurants, resorts, she is normally parked right in the front, though Phoenix is NOT LA. Sometimes, there are Bentleys and Maybachs,plus an Aston-Martin, a few Ferraris, and who knows what else, that might have a slightly better spot (closer, etc.), but she is always in the "front row." At many establishments, her car is at the door, and waiting, when we arrive with the ticket. That is always nice, especially when there is a queue for 30, waiting to hand off tickets.

                                    It is just my nature to say "Please," and then "Thank you." At the end of the year, it is no big deal, and hopefully, the young folk, who are working valet, will have $ to go to school, next semester.

                                    Now, one thing that I have a bit of an issue with, is a high-end restaurant, where the parking is "in addition" to what we will be spending inside. I am far less comfortable with that, but it's an issue with the restaurant owner, and not with the young folk, parking cars. I try to never ignore them.

                                    Also, at events, etc., the guy/gal parking, will most likely NOT be the one, who brings the car around.

                                    Upon some strong reflection, and research of my Quicken, I do see that with rental vehicles, my normal in/out tips are slightly below, those locally, with wife's car. The average seems to be US$ 4, for both in and out, though there have been some instances, over the years, where it was only US $ 2.00 in and out.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      You are absolutely right about the parking for valet, at a restaurant, in addition to what a customer spends inside.
                                      I know where I live the majority of owners of restaurants must rely on private parking garages, etc. to park the cars.
                                      They pay high monthly leases and the restaurant simply passes that onto the customer. It's become more the norm, than not, and I'm assuming this is the reason why they do it As you said, it's not the fault of the person valeting my car so I don't make it an issue with them and pay both the parking and the tip on top of it.

                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        Yes, much can depend on the "WHERE," as in certain areas of certain cities, parking is something to be passed down, generation to generation.

                                        Now, my reference to charging for valet parking, was from me thinking about three restaurants, that own the parking lots used, and ones that did not charge (directly) in the past.

                                        Still, the valets, themselves, do quite a bit of work. As my wife employees one company for her hospitals, and has their VIP credentials, we seldom are charged anything, but I still tip the drivers.

                                        When we used that company for a personal party at our home, up in the hills, with no easy parking, I tipped the drivers very graciously, as they did a fantastic job. I am still not sure where they put some of those cars. Boggles my mind. Hope that my guests also tipped them well.

                                        I rather use the funds, going in, to the tune of TIPS (To Insure Proper Service), and before a dozen folk chime in that that is NOT where the term "tip" came from, let me state that that is how I use it.

                                        As the driver on my pickup is almost always someone else, I wish to thank them, for delivering my auto, without smoke rising from the tires.

                                        When we valet park, if it will not be the normal duration of the event/meal, we let them know. Just two weeks ago, we attended an event for but the cocktails and silent auction - no meal. We informed the attendants, and they parked the auto in the near-by lot, so that when we left, just as everyone else went into the dining room, they did not have to bring it from the back of the property.

                                        Though I have never done valet work, I try to help, and always respect, the lads and lassies, who do the work. Some of which, involves running up and down hills. Same thing for the driver, if a van is involved in getting me from the parking area to the event. I usually hand them a US $ 5, for their efforts.

                                        Who knows, the valet today, might be my investment banker tomorrow? I might be seated at THEIR desk, asking for a construction loan, or something else?

                                        Besides, I like to say "thank you," since I can.


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          I hate valeting my car. I prefer to park my car in one spot far out of harms way. When that is not an option my sports car stays home in the safety of my garage. We take my wife's car and tip $5 on the way in and a couple of $ on the way out. I always prefer parking my own. Valeting really irks me.

                                          1. re: angelo04

                                            Depending on the venue, and the event, I could not agree more.

                                            We often self-park, and go for the back of the lot, as we do not mind walking. Still, there are times, where valet is the better choice, at least for us.