questionshow do you tip at restaurants, and why do you tip…


I agree with your approach. I've had servers that were at the mercy of their kitchens running slow but the difference made is when they keep you in the loop of why service is slow. If they mix up the orders and admit and fix it, all is good, if they let you know the food is backed up and keep your bread/drinks filled, also good, if they just don't give you any warning that things are awry I would deduct from tip for lack of service.


Having been a server for many years, I never tip less than 20% unless I feel the individual should be discouraged from continuing in that line of work. In other words, rude or unhelpful. I always try to remember the bad nights I had due to dumb luck or a preexisting bad mood or a personal issue and give servers the benefit of the doubt at first. Really great service means 25 or 30% (especially if it's a place I go to regularly -- a good server will repay you). Consistently bad or indifferent service, and i have no problem giving 10% or less, but that is a pretty rare occasion.

Personally, I hate being bugged too much (especially if they are just covering their own butt) much more than too little.


@erinaine: This is spot-on my approach as well. I also feel that, if you survey people who either work in food service currently or have in the past, you will find this to be the trend.


i tip 15% plus whatever it takes to make the check total a nice even $5 number, so sometimes it ends up like a 25% tip, sometimes just 15%

if service was particlarly good il start at 20%
and bad.. well it depends how bad..


I just got back from eating out. I tipped about 15% which is standard for me, unless the service is exceptional, then the sky is the limit. I was always in the 10% range until I dated a waitress, she explained how she got paid a little over $2 an hour and that tips were how she made anything, ever since then I can't bear to give someone less unless they truely earned less.


I usually tip 15% for bad service, 18 percent for decent service, and 20+% for good service.
My brother gave me a good thought when he said this to me: "What does it hurt you to give the server one extra dollar for their service? One extra dollar on their end can mean a lot if we all do it"

Last year I had a lot of bad servers and was tipping just 15%. This year I have already started out tipping the normal and adding an extra buck. I have actually had good servers so far this year and this is before they even see my tip. So I am really glad when I can give them a bigger tip.

Go the extra mile... give an extra dollar!


That's a great point, about not attributing the wait in your meal to the server... often time it's all rolled into one. Also great insight into the need to be informed if the meal is taking longer than expected. I do agree with the earlier post that there is a fine line in keeping you in the loop and bugging the shi- out of you. I'd say once every 10/15 minutes. Which should be fair because I'd be pretty pissed if my meal took over an hour from ordering... Good question... just remember... most of the service staff earn less than $2 an hour... which has always pissed me off. To me, tips are just that. The ser er should earn at LEAST minimum wage, and whatever they do above and beyond is just a reward for doing an awesome job. I think the consumer would get way better service!


i tip according to service, bad service is a low tip, good service means a nice tip. a tip is defined as "A sum of money given to someone as a way of rewarding them for their services." reward for their services, not paying them to leave my glass empty!


Just out of curiosity, what's the avg. cost of a meal you tip on?
I only ask, because we can't all be having meals that cost the same.

And would you tip the same percentage on a $30 meal as you would a $300 meal?

Just a thought :D


My tip starts at 20%. If you do poorly, it goes down. If you do something extra good... it goes up. But, generally it's at 20%.


For friendly, attentive service, I've been tipping 20% rounded to nearest dollar since mid-to-late 2008 (before that it was 15%-18%).

I tip higher for service at the places I frequent (it really does get you better service).

When the service is bad (and it isn't the kitchen's fault), I will cut the tip down, but things have to be quite bad for me to go below 15%.


I generally baseline at 20%, and only dip below to 15% for really bad service, which I don't see often. I never worked in a restaurant, but I've worked retail for years, and have had friends who were waiters or waitresses. Talking to them about helped me recognize signs of outstanding service, like keeping the drinks filled, but I don't normally mind if that's not done.

If a meal was under $10, I'm more likely to drift into the %30-50 range, but only because it's such a small difference. I rarely eat out for even over $70 or $80 for two(The most expensive I've ever eaten was $100 on the money, with tip) but it generally pulls the percentage closer to 20% even for good service. I am by nature a cheapskate, but I try to be considerate. Still, people who work in places that routinely have $100 checks are not generally hurting so much as the people working at Waffle House.


I've also eaten with people who left no tip before for service that they considered awful, but was really just the low end of mediocre, and I felt embarrassed enough about it that I left a tip for the table. Luckily on one occasion, I had just won $100 from a lottery ticket, so I left a $20 tip once they left and felt I had karmically balanced out the entirety of that day.


If your food takes awhile to get to you and is HOT, It means the kitchen is understaffed and/or behind in orders. If your food comes "luke warm", it means your server is not keeping up.

I have had bad experiences at restaurants but still tipped my waiter/waitress well as it had nothing to do with their performance. I did still have a word with the manager and made sure to let them know what went wrong and that it was not my waiters fault, but that they should get more help in the kitchen. but just the same..

I tip %15 for an average performance.

If the waiter/waitress impresses me (no mistakes/not writing our order down but getting it right just the same/keeps the glasses full at all times/makes their rounds to the table in a timely manner) then I will tip on the upwards of %20-%25.

If I have terrible service, I will leave a tip of 0.01 on the credit card to let them know that I did NOT forget to leave a tip, but that I was displeased with the service.


I start my tips out at 20% and deduct for every few minutes my drink is empty. There are only a couple times when I have tipped low (5%) and I graded them on their performance and write a report card on the back of the customer copy of the receipt (I'm not even kidding) Just so they know how they could improve. Only once has service been so incredibly terrible that i left a 2 cent tip and an upside down glass of water, but the guy was such an asshole and the restaurant was incredibly terrible. It was just an absolutely miserable experience.

There are a few servers I really like... Especially Chris from Fenton's Creamery in Oakland (Sunday mornings always). I have started asking for him by name and wait patiently for a table he's serving at. He gets 25% minimum because he's always so friendly and keeps my drinks full. Last time I was up there I ended up giving him a 10 dollar tip on a 22 dollar bill because of good service and the fact it was xmas/new years time.


My standard tip for good service is 30%. When the service has been really rotten, and I mean inattentive, sloppy, slow, I tip lower, and if it is abominable, I leave nothing. In addition to the amount of the tip, I do if I am carrying cash pay the tip in cash, as the server gets it right away. Otherwise, as I understand it, when the gratutity is added to a credit card (my normal way of paying when dining out), sometimes that money is paid out once a month with tax withheld. I feel that the servers probably need the money NOW instead of later, and it is then up to them to handle their tax/social security, etc. Very often too, the waitstaff has to tip out the bartenders, bussers etc. They don't always get to keep what you give them just for themselves.


I am a hospitality manager and have been working in the food and hotel industry all my life. I have served, been served, and managed servers in a lot of places and I can honestly say that the most important question I always have to ask myself is, "am I being realistic about my expectations for this restaurant?"

My basic model for tipping is this: I start at 20-25% depending on the venue. Higher percentage for a more complex restaurant, because it takes more skill to work at those venues. For truly excellent service, that percentage can skyrocket. For poor service, it tends to drop slowly and incrementally based upon the server's lack of knowledge of the menu, general attitude, and service skills. I can't expect stellar service from every server, because there are too many restaurants in the US (especially casual chains) and way too few good servers. Factor in the poor hiring practices of many businesses (particularly chains with high turnover) and limited labor pools, and... well.


I don't usually tip by percentage, but I don't go below 20%. I usually tip around $5 for meals $10-$30, and then $6+ depending on the price from there.

I've worked in the restaurant business for several years now, and if there's one thing I've learned it's that low tipping NEVER has a positive effect on servers. If they're having a bad day, it becomes worse. If they're just beginning, they become discouraged and do poorly. It's a lose-lose situation. I'm not a wealthy person myself, but I'd much rather invest in someone else's day than a single meal.


I typically do a minimum of 15% unless the service was really bad. I tend to just go with an even-ish number, relative to the pretip amount that's between 15 and 20%. If the service was really good or the person gave a lot of attention or had a good attitude/ sense of humor/ ect, I'll lean towards the higher end. If I felt they went above and beyond (and the bills not TOO high, I am an unemployed student after all) I might go above 20.

I cant think of too many instances where I've had absolutely terrible service, so I don't have much of an answer to the low end. The most recent instances I could think of where the service was bad the server was CLEARLY new to the job, so I would feel bad about giving them a crappy tip for something they're still learning to do.


As long as my drink is refilled, I tend to leave a good tip. I don't leave a percentage of the check because the server did nothing but carry it, and I already paid for the food. $5 is enough for walking back and forth giving me water. I leave between $5 and $15 for the tip, unless annoyed.

Worst I ever had I left a penny, and if it wasn't illegal I would have taken money from her wallet directly. That person, however, shouldn't have been discouraged from that line of work, but dealing with humanity in general.

I never understood % based tips though, as the company is already getting profit from the food, and unless my server also made the food, they weren't involved in any part that matters to my wallet. I also understand tip sharing, but again they are sharing with the owner who already has money, the chef who already gets paid, and the (usually) under paid serving staff... I get all that, but my point remains. Btw, yes, if my bill is $10, I might still leave $5 as tip.


Local sales tax is 8.25%, so my base tip is usually double the sales tax. The exception is when I use a coupon: then I'll estimate the tip based on the cost of the food before the discount. For good service I'll go up to 25%, bad service will go down as low as whatever loose change is in my pocket.


I usually tip about 20%, but I do have a question. It used to be a standard tip was 15%. I'm speaking of the '60s, '70s, '80s. Food prices continually went up, thus 15% was more. How or why did it change to 20%?

One other thing, I really, really hate it when a waiter asks me if I want change. Tell me you'll bring my change and that gives me the opportunity to say it's fine.


@wingnutzero: Oh shoot you reminded me, Whenever I use a coupon I tip 15% + the entire coupon. That works out really well for the waiter when it's bogo and the bill comes out to 16 dollars and they just got a 7 dollar tip.


My baseline tip is 15% and can go up to 25% + rounding up to the next dollar. If the service is horrendous, it goes down appropriately.

The most frustrating thing to me is when we have a great experience, top notch service; then the server takes 30 minutes to get you the check, or get it back to you. That's when the baseline dollar amount starts to go down. Just let me pay you and get out the way. =)

I also make it a habit to track down store managers if we've had a great experience.


my standard tip is 20% my holiday or excellent service tip is normally like 20% on my CC with like 5 or 10 additional dollars in cash but I normally tip no less then 10% even when service sucks. for example, a 10% day was no refill on drinks the entire time, and even after they picked up the last plates it took them 25 minutes to pick up the check, was going to order dessert, but never was asked.

I eat out on coupons ALOT and I always make sure to tip off the original amount and not the discounted amount. although some coupons force a certain percentage gratuity, and because I was forced for a specific gratuity I wont add to it.


My standard tip used to be $15 (higher or lower depending on whether the server was attentive) but now that we have a toddler our tips start out at 20%. We do not eat out at fine restaurants (I would have to tip 50% or more for a long sit down meal to compensate for bringing my child, even though he's usually very good) and pretty much have 3 favorite places we go to every 1-2 weeks. I try to keep our table cleaned up, orders uncomplicated and be nice to the staff so they don't cringe when they see us coming. I've seen some horrid families in restaurants and I don't want to be one of them! If we're with a friend who makes a lot of changes to their order or we need some other extra service, I add to the tip. And I always tip based on the price before a coupon.


@pooflady: For some reason, I can't find full historical information on minimum wage for tipped employees, only information for non-exempt workers. In 2001, the minimum wage for regular workers was $5.75, and the minimum wage for tipped workers was $2.13. As of today, the minimum wage for regular workers is $7.50, and the minimum wage or tipped workers is... $2.13. I can't seem to find when that was established, but it seems to have remained constant since before 1996. In 1996, President Clinton actually raised the regular minimum wage from $4.25 to $4.75. So in 15 years, normal workers are making almost double what they were making(although, adjusted for inflation, only a few cents more), and your waiters and waitresses are making exactly the same wage.

You should really start tipping 30% minimum.


Some very reasonable responses so far.

Most of the time, my tips will fall in between 20-30%. 10% is the bare minimum I will tip, but service has to be so insurmountably horrible that lesser men would have left before the check came. Incorrect order, a bad attitude (the server's) and malicious intent (also the server's) have to all be present in order for the 10%. Let me put it this way, if I only see the server three times (take order, drop off food and then the check) the entire night, they will get 15%. So, why 10%? This amount will generally cover however much the server has to pay for getting the table (if the restaurant does that).

The most I have tipped (on a check that was above $100) was 35%, but this was a very friendly and personable server who was slammed on a Saturday night that somehow showed up at our table to help us right when we needed it. Anything under $50, I have tipped up to 40%.

What do you tip a chambermaid?


I usually tip 20-25% for good service. 10-15% if they were noticeably lacking. And of course I have to work it out to be an even dollar amount because I'm weird like that. :)


I am a manager at a major casual dining chain. At this particular establishment, the servers are paid $2.13 per hour and their paychecks average $45 every 2 weeks for full time. They are required to pay in 3% of their net sales (after coupons, voids, discounts, and comps) that are then forwarded to the bartender and host staff. They have to pay this 3% whether they are tipped out by their guests or not. Before they pay out this 3%, they are legally required to claim 10% or more of their net sales as tipped income, even if they didn't make it. The IRS will not believe that they made less and they will end up audited. As managers, we can override the system for them and let them claim what they really made, but then like I said, the IRS will not believe it. This being said, I tip at least 50% for excellent service, 25-30% for great service, 20-25% for good service, 15% for ok service, 10% for poor service and will leave nothing when treated with hostility or rudeness (very rare!).


Too much stuff to read through so I did a quick search. I'm surprised no one bases it on how the serving staff looks (sometimes I do this). I usually tip at least 15% and tip as much as 30% at times. If the service is bad I'd tip low and if it is really bad I'd make sure to let them know with an insulting tip. I feel it's better to leave something to make them think than to make them think you don't tip.

@wiedenbeck: I am glad that my state does not allow the minimum wage for tipped employees to be below the federal minimum. My state's minimum is actually above the federal so tipped and non-tipped employees make the same minimum wage.


If they take empty glasses as soon as they empty; remove unnecessary items such as bread plates, or empty entre plates without being prompted. Refilling glasses when 3/4 empty and taking the empty one moments later.

Lunch - 15% to 20% depending on how good they are because the total of the meal is much less than dinner, so it's considerate to tip a lunch server better if they were outstanding

Dinner - 20% to 28% if they were good to really good. If bad, 18% or less if situations truly need it to be.

IIf your serve good, is good, people should tip generously since there are so few good serves anymore.


@stark: This lists the minimum wage based on state. In California, where I live, the minimum wage is $8 whether you're tipped or not.


@rabidmonkeyoncrack: Yes, but that doesn't have historical information on tipped employees past 2003. It goes without saying that some states have higher wage standards than the federal minimum. Most servers aren't so lucky.


I don't tip because society says I have to. Alright, I tip when somebody really deserves a tip. If they put forth an effort, I'll give them something extra. But I mean, this tipping automatically, that's for the birds. As far as I'm concerned they're just doing their job. - Mr. Pink


@curtisuxor: I leave $2 a day for the chambermaid. Good question and desserves its own individual one IMO.


I read somewhere that the international symbol for bad service is a 1 penny tip, although as a past server I never saw or heard of anyone getting this...


Tips=To Insure Proper Service. I think the concept originated as being given at the beginning of the serving experience. Novel concept. I think it disappeared with the influx of general untrustability in the Ameican populace.

To the poster saying that the server in the $100 restaurant does better than the one at a cheap chain, maybe not. Maybe the expensive restaurant server only sees 5 tables while the constant turnover at a cheap chain allows that server to see scores of tables.

I sometimes tip well over 100%. I frequent Eat 'n' Park. I don't know if the rest of the country has them or not, but they are basically big chain diners. If my solo lunch meal (I work alone) is $10, I leave $10 or even more. The servers in this place, like many other places, are moms and grandmas really trying to pull things together. I've been blessed with a better than average salary and it is a good and righteous thing to do to try and pass some of it along to someone who truly deserves it.


I have been waiting for 7 days to see if anyone will say never. sigh I always tip excellent but I have dated a few servers and was also one in my past and there are too many cheapskates who never tip anyone at all. Or they say "keep the change" and the bill is 19.82 after tax. Now I always leave a bare minimum of 5.00 and way more if I am extremely pleased ;)


My understanding is 20% is pretty standard these days. I'd go 15% for average service but I'll go as low as 10% if it's awful. Stiffing on a tip is pretty rare for me - twice a decade maybe. It's commonly understood in the restaurant business that a quarter tip is a "F-You" tip, worse than not tipping at all. On the other hand, excellent service leaves it up to you how much you want to lavish upon your humble servers. Ask any long-time server what the biggest tip they've ever received is and you might be floored. I've heard as high as $4000.

Bar tipping:
According to recreational drinking kitsch mainstay Modern Drunkard Magazine, it's minimum $1 a drink, no tip necessary for water or borrowing a pen or matches (it was an older article). If the bartender comps you a free drink, it is somewhat customary to tip close to what it would have been anyway. Personally, I take it as a gift and just double my tip in that case.

PS "Celebrity tipping" is a fun Google search (:


A few points I forgot to mention:
*I kind of feel the waiter is expecting a coupon user to be a cheapskate so I make a point (as wingnutzero mentioned) to ALWAYS tip on what the total WOULD have been pre-coupon.
*I tip on the total before taxes, not after.
*If anybody is a math dum-dum like me, figuring a 20% tip is still easy. Just double the amount and movie the decimal over. $20.00 bill X 2= 40.00 Tip=4.00