HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Takeout tipping

Drew Brees, the excellent NO Saints QB and poster boy for Nice Guy/Good Guy just got ripped by some waitperson's posting of a photo of his $3 tip on a $77 order; he has replied via Twitter that the order was takeout. I am always made uncomfortable by that damned tip jar at the register, or the tip line on the bill when I am taking out. If I'm sitting there for an hour being "waited on", I cheerfully tip 20%. But what's a tip got to do with some gal handing me the sack of food? Is there a Hound Rule Of Thumb?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. first bad form on the wait staff..this whole public tipshamming leaves abad taste in my mouth..sort of like a if shop keeper blabbed a stars size all over town... disrection and privacy and class people...

    Second a food truck owner just fired a worker for tipshaming a customer... I think more managers should do the same

    Third... No one is entitled to a "tip" it is something extra provided for excellent service... annnnnny tip should be apprciated and no tip should ever be expected.

    1. I'm always conscious that tipping cultures differ between nationalities. It would never occur to me to tip on take-away - not even at Christmas which is about the only time I see a tip jar. Even then, I regard it as taking the piss.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        Tipping in the US is not a cultural thing, it's part of the economics of restaurant dining. Waitpersons do not have to be paid minimum wage. So if you use my state (Illinois) as an example then minimum wage is $7.25 but minimum wage for tip-eligible persons is $4.95.

        At this very moment there are protests in Downtown Chicago for the "Fight for $15" movement to set a $15 minimum for fast-food workers. While this is unrealistic and unlikely to cause any meaningful change in pay it does reflect how low the pay scale is for foodservice workers in the US. At $4.95 an hour, that works out to about $10,000 a year, so without tips it's barely enough to cover transportation costs and a little more.

        Contrast that to many European countries where restaurant staff are paid a living wage and you'll start to understand the role tips play in the equation here.

        1. re: ferret

          Nobody is only making $4.95/hr. If you don't receive enough tips to bring you up to $7.25, your employer is required to make up the difference. Obviously, you would rather receive the full $7.25/hr from your employer in the first place, and receive tips on top of that, but this doesn't change the fact that no one is only earning $4.95/hr in Illinois.

          Which is not to say that $7.25/hr is such a great living, so by all means, tip appropriately, or even excessively, if it makes you feel good.

          1. re: DeppityDawg

            I didn't mean to imply that they were only taking home $4.95, obviously the remainder (and excess) will eventually be earned. But if your boss said "I'm only paying 60% of what I think you should be earning, make up the rest yourself" I'm pretty sure you'd be doing your best to angle for tips any way you can. Again, contrast that to workers in countries like Sweden where you're paid enough not to need tips to make a living wage. As for the minimum wage, as Chris Rock said, "when your boss is paying you minimum wage he's saying 'I'd pay you less but the law won't let me.'"

          2. re: ferret

            I believe I understand American law that minimum wage is not minium wage when it is applied to staff who get tips. That is certainly a cultural matter, IMO. I may find it difficult to understand but, hey, folk in countries foreign to me have their own ways of doing things.

            I also understand, therefore, the related cultural matter that customers are generally obligated (or feel obligated) to tip serving staff.

            However, this thread is about tipping for take-away, not tipping for table service. There are, clearly, cultural matters relevent here - otherwise the OP would not be posing the question. Even with my accepted limited understanding of American culture, I fail to see why a customer would feel obligated to tip for take-away.

            1. re: Harters

              There's take-away and then there's take-away and differentiating between the two certainly requires the exercise of a little common sense. If I walk into a shop that's essentially a take-away business then tipping is certainly not an obligation and I don't tip counter staff. On the other hand, I occasionally place a to-go order at my local sushi restaurant. It's a sit-down place that does not offer delivery. When I get my to-go order it's generally prepared for transport by one of the waitstaff who then transfers it into to-go containers, makes sure the box is packed well and properly balanced (the order easily tops $100 on the average) and also makes sure that the necessary add-ons are in the box. I never have a problem giving them a $10 for the courtesy.

              1. re: ferret

                I bristle at tipping 20% for takeaway at a dine-in restaurant, but have thought that 10% was fair. Is that your assessment as well ?

        2. "Some gal" made sure the order was right, put in the appropriate condiments, possibly packaged the food up...

          I would have tipped $10 on an order that size.

          5 Replies
          1. re: LeoLioness

            So far, you'all have made my point: three replies, three completely unlike approaches to Takeout Tipping: 1) Nahh, phooey; 2) a tip is for "excellent service" and is entirely voluntary and should be gratefully, not resentfully, accepted; 3) I would have tipped Ten Bucks (15%!) I wonder what LL would tip if that $77 bill had been dine-in, representing about ten trips to her table! As vs a glance into the bag to see if the croissants were included and hand it to me. PS: We don't want no hurt feelings here at the Hound Compound, so if the quotes around "some gal" is an expression of feminist grievance, pls know that I intended no disparagement of the counter-person, but only signaled that this was not a person, male or female, whom I knew personally and who regularly took good care of me, admonishing the chef to replace those dried-out looking ribs with some coming off the broiler just now....

            1. re: dickgrub

              Dickgrub - I'd just like to point out that the poster who answered "Nahh, phooey" does not live in the USA, and thus has a very different cultural and practical view of tipping.

            2. re: LeoLioness

              $10 for 2 minutes of work? Maybe 5 minutes?

              1. re: DeppityDawg

                Yes. And I tip a dollar for the bartender who takes the cap off my beer. I'm mad, I tell you, mad!

                1. re: LeoLioness

                  I'd be mad, too. ;) Seriously, bar tips are another matter entirely, and I often find myself cheerfully tipping my barman, who has a day job that pays more than my job, for pouring me a shot with an 800% markup. Madness, indeed…

            3. I've got to say I'm probably closer to Drew Brees, both in my athletic ability, good looks and charm as well my tipping habits. In a scenario like this I probably would have paid with 4 $20's and said "Keep the change". If I paid by debit/credit I would have probably just made it an even $5.

              I can't see tipping 15% for the level of service being provided.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jrvedivici

                "both in my athletic ability, good looks and charm."

                <snort laugh>

                Will you marry me, then?

              2. I tip about 10% on a carry out order at a sit down place. Somewhere where carry out is the only offering? Nope.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Hobbert

                  Same here. Around 10% tip on take-out at sit down place where the waitstaff are organizing the order. Fully take-out place or takeout counter with dedicated staff, no tip.

                  1. re: Hobbert

                    It occurred to me that I pretty much only get takeout from "real" sit-down restaurants, not strictly takeout places (I have that delivered). So maybe that colors my practice on tipping, the fact that I know it's a regular server who is packaging up my food, along with performing his/her regular serving duties.

                    1. re: LeoLioness

                      Yep, that's my outlook. It's not their main business and, as far as I can tell, a server is handling the carry out. So, yeah, I'm going to tip someone who made sure my order was correct, gave me the right utensils, packed it up so that it was secure, and, sometimes, even delivered it to my car. That takes time and while I don't think it deserves a 20% tip, I wouldn't skate off without tipping anything.

                  2. Unless the person handing me the takeout bag at the pickup counter performs an extra task I request at pickup time (could you get me some paper plates and plastic utensils, we're going to eat in the park) I do not tip for takeout orders.

                    This is NOT the same as when dsining in, I ask the server to put in an additional to go order. Then I tip on that as well as the dine in food. That server is doing extra work and may be paid the legal subminimum wage.

                    As an example, inj our area it is quite common for pizza/Italian restaurants to ahve a separate area for pick up. The employees working the pick up register and counter are not employees exempt from full minimum wage, they get at least $8.25 per hour. I would no more tip them than the cashier in a suoermarket.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: bagelman01

                      That's a good point. The places from which I regularly get carry out use the same wait staff to wait tables and handle carry out orders. Some places seem to dedicate a waiter to only handle carry out each shift. Are they paid more then? I have no idea but have always assumed they were not.

                      1. re: Hobbert

                        They may be paid more by the employer, but if no one tips them, then they earn less…

                        In reality, it doesn't take a lot of tips (averaged out over several shifts) for the employer to be able to claim the maximum tip credit, so I think that in places with a separate take-out area, servers probably get rotated periodically to that station, and they can be paid below-minimum across the board.

                      2. re: bagelman01

                        I rarely get take out. When I do, it is a "take out place".

                        I only tip if there is a tip jar on the counter.

                      3. How could anyone possibly pay their bills on $7.25/hour?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: lemarais

                          They're not meant to. Minimum wage jobs are intended for some kid to save up for their first car and to take his girlfriend to the prom. Anyone over the age of 21 who is still working for minimum wage is too lazy to earn more and should be glad they have the job they do.

                          1. re: PotatoHouse

                            That's a naive point of view. Plenty of adults with minimum wage jobs work a hell of a lot harder than me. "Lazy" is not a word I would use to describe them. There are many reasons adults wind up with low paying jobs and labeling them lazy is simplistic.

                            1. re: Hobbert

                              I dug out sewer ditches for $3.35 an hour when I was a teenager and I have worked hard all my life to fight my way up the pay scale. Some 30-something trying to raise 3 kids by flipping burgers at Mcd's and then complaining that he should get $15 an hour is lazy and wants everything handed to him.

                              1. re: PotatoHouse

                                Yep, I've worked hard too for the majority of my life. Along the way, I've learned that making generalizations about huge groups of people is a quick way to sound silly.

                        2. If I made $20 million a year I'd be one VERY generous tipper!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: carolinadawg

                            And I wouldn't bother eating anything that only cost $77. Plus I have to go pick it up myself? No no. I'd have people for that.

                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                              And this is why about 75% of retired football players go bankrupt once retired !

                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                Very few NFL players get contracts like Brees'.

                          2. My rule on tipping is that it never hurts to be generous--to the mail carrier at Christmas, the paper delivery dude, the hair stylist, and yes, to people who package up your Chinese takeout and hand it to you. Once I start worrying about every little dollar, then living and eating just aren't fun anymore.

                            And I also find that tipping regularly can grease an otherwise squeaky wheel. The grumpy people I sometimes order my pizza from always have a smile for me and the paper dude always lands the paper right at the front door.

                            21 Replies
                            1. re: Isolda

                              While I don't feel it is required to tip on take-out, I agree with Isolda.

                              At my favorite Chinese take out - I have always tipped. And - they now know my voice when I call in. And they alert me to new dishes that are not on the menu.

                              1. re: Isolda

                                It never hurts to be generous, except that tip to the US mail carrier is ILLEGAL. Every December our area postmaster sends out a reminder card to postal patrons that tipping postal employees is ILLEGAL, if caught accepoting your tip the letter carrier could lose his/her job or worse.

                                I agree about the hair stylist, just as I would agree about any service personnel who provodes a direct service to me. BUT the kid at the pickup counter at the pizza place only hands , he isn't paid subminimum wage, no call for a tip.me my food and takes payment. He doesn't make the food, he doesn't box the food

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  When did that start? My 1st job when I moved to CA back in '61 was with the Beverly Hills Post Office. We all looked forward to getting Christmas gifts (tips?) from patrons on our route. There was never any indication of it being illegal.

                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                    Employee Tipping and Gift-Receiving Policy

                                    All postal employees, including carriers, must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Exec­utive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. Furthermore, no employee may accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in any one calendar year period.

                                    1. re: ferret

                                      So, it's not exactly illegal, as BM says; it's fine as long as the restrictions are adhered to.

                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                        Right. Cash tips are fine, as long as you adhere to the restriction that cash tips are illegal, in any amount.

                                          1. re: mucho gordo

                                            OK, gordo, but whatever you did in the 60s stays in the 60s.

                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                              Read what I wrote. Restrictions were adhered to; there was NO CASH, just gifts.

                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                Read what I wrote: gifts that you received in the 60s as a postal worker are your business. I have no idea what regulations applied back then (if anyone does, it should be you…). bagelman01 and ferret were talking about _cash tips_ for mail carriers _today_, which was vaguely on-topic for this thread, which is about tipping for take-out. Not playing games with you. Just saying.

                                          2. re: DeppityDawg

                                            This issue has been a bone of contention in our family for years. SIL's brother and father were letter carriers and looked forward to major tip money at Xmas. SIL married my brother. Xmas apoproaches and she asked how much are we giving the mailman, brother replied, nothing, it's illegal. SIL went bonkers. Brother showed SIl the letter that is sent out each year to all postal patrons by the New Haven postmaster reminding patrons it is illegal for employees to accept tips. SIL pouts and buys the letter carrier a bottle.

                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                              Let's face it, BM. I don't think many people are aware that it is illegal to give cash and I don't think many carriers would turn it down or report it. They'd just put it in their pocket go on their merry way. Although I never received cash, just gifts, not thinking about it, we have given carriers a check or cash over the years.

                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                Heck after we have a party my dad tapes an envlope to the top of our trash can.. sometimes it is gift cards to the hot bbq place sometimes it is cash... if it was a crawfish boil the amount is usally higher

                                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                                  And when I go on vacation I leave an empty envelope for them to give me some money back, since I'm not using their services that week.

                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                    ya we tried that it that way...they didnt seem to get it

                                                2. re: mucho gordo

                                                  Overall, I agree that most US residents don't know that it is illegal to tip (cash/check) the mail carrier, but at least 1/4 million addressees in the New Haven area have gotten the notice every year for more than 20 years (that I recall).

                                                  A few yuears back our letter carrier (who gives terrible service on our street (delivery after 6 pm most days) kept hinting about a Xmas tip. He kept leaving holiday cards for us in the mail box. Finally, I took an envelope and stick the notice from the postmaster in it. End of hints for a tip.

                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                    I have given my letter carrier a cash tip every year. I followed my parents' example.

                                                    My dad was in USPS management--he did not accept "chrissos," as he called them--but he bestowed them. Every year I get a thank you card from the carrier. And yes, "chrissos" go to trash men, paper deliverers and whomever delivers to my door on a daily basis.

                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                      I am not telling you NOT to tip your letter carrier, you didn't seek me out for counsel. I merely stated the facts and put them out for others to see.

                                                      I am an attorney (not in public practice), and as a sworn officer of the court have to uphold the law. I cannot in good faith encourage anyone to tip a letter carrier, violating Federal Regulations.

                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                          Offering a tip is not a violation, for the customer, is it? Unless it counts as some kind of bribe? But soliciting or accepting a tip _is_ a violation, for the postal employee.


                                                          See also:
                                                          Click on: "About USPS" > "Policies and Procedures" > "Donations & Gifts"

                                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                            Hi folks. We have quite a long off topic digression about tipping postal workers. Please return to the topic about tipping for takeout. Thanks so much!

                                    2. The restaurant responded at length:

                                      They do not accept responsibility for leaking the receipt, and they won't even say if it's a real receipt. But they do say that $3 is generous compared to the tip that they normally receive for take-out, which is $0.

                                      And they posted a receipt of their own indicating a donation of $888.88 to Brees's charitable foundation.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                        Is there some significance of all the 8s?

                                        1. re: dmjordan

                                          i wondered that..but thought I was being pernoid triple 8s are a white supremeset code... brees jersy number is 9

                                          1. re: dmjordan

                                            Yes! The number "8" is auspicious, supposedly because its pronunciation, "bā", rhymes with "fā" 發/发, which sort of means "get rich" or "prosper", as in "gong hee _fat_ choy" (Cantonese pronunciation).

                                            I thought the white supremacists used "88", for "H(eil) H(itler)"? I guess it would make sense for them to like the number 8 in general. They should probably consider joining forces with the Chinese.

                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                ....and I thought they were just upside down snowmen.....

                                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                  Was the take out from a Chinese restaurant? I'll have to investigate.

                                                  ETA: DeppityDawg, I think you are right. It was a Chinese restaurant.

                                                  1. re: dmjordan

                                                    Yes, Chinese, but you'd never know it from the strange name. "Rendezvous"?? Why can't they call themselves "Golden Dragon Jade Phoenix Dynasty" like everyone else?

                                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                      Good point, Dawg! A bit gran-dee-oze, eh? (It's right down the street from the pizza joint called, The Inn at Huntington Bay.)

                                            1. There have been a lot of discussions on this topic. In the Chow search bar, just type in tipping. Here is one such thread:


                                              1. Doesn't it seem like there are tip jars everywhere it's hard to keep up with knowing how much to give who for what.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: BanjoMan1

                                                  One easy rule could be: If you see a tip jar, don't put anything in it.

                                                  Not that you can't tip someone who gives you great counter service, but I'd give the cash directly to that person. Who knows what happens with the money in the jar.

                                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                                      OK Gang, I think we've covered it.

                                                      Answer # 1 (for me): Ain't no Hound Rule of Thumb.

                                                      Answer # 2 (" "): Tipping for Takeout is a Rorschach Test, a formless blob into which the patron infuses meaning, according to their Type. Feeling Types fork over dough, cuz they painfully empathize with the poor, struggling counterperson; Thinking Types (moi) see Tipping as a rational system relating to Personal Service: the Server suggested an entree, returned to my table ten times, fetched a clean napkin, was my Host and my connection to this restaurant for an hour! Twenty percent. Even 25. But the lady at the dry cleaners who struggles with that conveyer system to find my shirts? Or the person on the counter at the restaurant who hands me my takeout? No. They are employees doing their jobs.

                                                      1. re: dickgrub

                                                        Answer #3 (for all issues involving tipping): No matter how many times the question has been discussed in the past, it will always need to be discussed again in the very near future.

                                                  1. You have NO IDEA how much work goes into preparing food for takeout. Tip big, tip often.

                                                    1. My two cents on this? The only reason that employee tweeted this was because the customer was Drew Brees and he/she figured there was a big payout coming.

                                                      I don't think anyone should feel pressured or obligated to tip when picking up a takeout order. While occasionally a server is putting together these orders..more than likely it is an employee who being paid higher than a service wage.
                                                      I always tip at coffee shops when getting orders to go..and I will usually tip when I stop to pick up food at my local pizza/sub shop..however..I don't feel obligated to leave a percentage tip if I order say $100 worth of takeout.
                                                      What's next? Tipping the cashier at the grocery store because she rang up my order?