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Mar 3, 2013 11:58 AM

Tipping on counter/number service?

I went to a restaurant yesterday in LA (Take A Bao, Studio City....pretty tasty, fyi) ordered at the counter, they gave you your drinks and a magnetized number which you then put on a post at your table (self-seating). The bus boy would then bring your food.

I've been to other restaurants with service like this (getty museum in malibu, for example) and never know what and if I should tip. Standard 18-20 seems too much, but nothing seems wrong too. And just leaving a few bucks seems cheap.

I'm confused.


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  1. i always leave something (usually about 15%).
    since my normal is somewhere over 20%, this seems about fair to me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      There have been a bazillion threads on this topic, but here's my take on it. For me it comes down to the following questions to determine how much tip:
      -Are there clean tables for me to sit at or do I need to take care of that too?
      -Is my number ungraciously shouted out, or are my plates brought to me?
      -Do they clear my plates as I finish them, or am I expected to bus my own?
      In any case I tip when leaving, not when giving my order, just as I'd do at a conventional sit-down restaurant. Why should I tip in advance when I've no idea how good service will be?

      1. re: Leonardo

        For my local spot:
        -the table is clean (see the thread on spraying tables)
        -the food is brought to me; no shouting required
        -I bus my own table
        -I tip at the end of the meal. We order, the food is delivered, we pay before we leave

    2. A local pizza place that we hit for lunch about once a week has this setup (though the food is brought by the person who made it). Literally, all they do is drop the food. We do our own drink refills, bus our own table, etc. So 10% goes into the tip jar they keep on the counter by the cashier. (I'm usually a 20% gal in full-service restaurants.)

      However, some coworkers see no need to tip at all.

      2 Replies
      1. re: gaffk

        << some coworkers see no need to tip at all>>

        one of the reasons i try to err on the side of generosity is because i see that sort of stuff so often.