How to Tip Your Server

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Posted Thu, Nov 14, 2013

eating out

There has always been debate about tipping at restaurants.  Customers complain that servers expect too much of a tip, and servers complain that customers don’t tip enough.

ARVADA, Colo.-Eating out is a tradition most people all over the world enjoy.  We go out to eat to celebrate special occasions, catch up with family and friends and to just eat a good meal. The average American eats out four to five times a week.  Restaurants can be costly especially when you have to tip.

In some countries it is considered an insult to tip; the server feels like “you need this more than I do,” and the restaurant will feel like, “you don’t pay your staff properly.” People in the United States have a much different view on tipping.  Restaurants do not pay their servers much (approximately $4.30 an hour) and people don’t understand the kind of work that goes into providing good service at a restaurant.

At most restaurants there are servers, bussers, food-runners and bartenders. Each of these groups is necessary for a customer to enjoy a good meal. These members of a restaurant staff work very hard to make sure you are having a good time. Most people know that servers don’t make more than $4 an hour, yet they don’t feel like they need to tip the average 20 percent.

The tip provided by the customer not only goes to the server waiting on you, but to the bussers, food-runners, and bartenders.  At the end of each night the server will give a percentage of their tips to the other workers and this is called a tip-out.

There has always been debate about tipping at restaurants.  Customers complain that servers expect too much of a tip, and servers complain that customers don’t tip enough.  Where is the line drawn to customers and servers feeling good about their tip?

The answer for most servers would be 20 percent which is a fair tip for both the customer and the server. “All I expect is a 20 percent tip to the price of the bill.  I work very hard, and have found that 20 percent can give me enough to make tip-out and have extra money” says, Daron Plung a server at Malone’s Clubhouse Grill.

Restaurant goers are probably thinking that tipping goes up every year for the same service.  The truth about severing jobs and any other job is that the price of living goes up every year.  Most employees pay will go up as expenses of living go up.  Serving jobs stay at the same base pay, so tipping is their means of living. When servers receive their check it is mostly void because after they claim tips there isn’t anything left over.

Yessen Croddock has worked at Malone’s Clubhouse Grill for five years now, and has experienced first-hand what goes on in the tipping world.  The majority of customers tip fewer than 20 percent because they are still stuck on the 10 or 15 percent rule. “Every shift I have a few tables only tip me 10 percent of the bill, making it hard for me to make any money by the end of the night,” Yessen says after a long shift.

Tipping chart that doesn't show 10% anymore

Tipping chart that doesn’t show 10% anymore

If a bill is $35, a 10 percent tip would be $3.50 which doesn’t even help pay off the crews tip-out for the night. Susan Knight has been a customer at Malone’s for 10 years now and says, “I will tip if I am happy with my service.  If something goes wrong I don’t believe I should have to tip as much. Ten percent was the golden rule in my day so I stick to that.”  Many older customers believe this is the way to tip and don’t realize that times have changed.

Customers should realize that when they go out to eat tipping will be a part of the expense.  If people can’t afford to tip and it has become too expensive then they shouldn’t go out to eat.  There are plenty of fast food places, or other restaurants where tipping isn’t involved and that’s because the employees are getting paid at least three more dollars an hour.

Malon'es Grill in Arvada.

Malon’es Grill in Arvada.

Keep a tipping chart handy and if you enjoyed your service tip the server 20 percent. Ultimately it is up to the customer on how they want to tip their server.  If they had a horrible time and the service was awful, then no the server shouldn’t get a 20 percent tip, but if everything was fine a 20 percent tip isn’t too much to ask for.

  • The nation’s best tippers dine in New Orleans, leaving an average gratuity of 19.7 percent, according to Zagat’s 2012 America’s Top Restaurants Survey
  • Some people believe tipping is aristocratic, undemocratic and un-American — that it promotes the idea of a servant class
  • A travel tip: Don’t leave a gratuity in Japan. It would be considered an insult.
  • In June 2000, a British tourist in Chicago visiting the Leg Room appreciated his waitress so much he left a $10,000 tip for a $9 drink

About Jessica Culey

Jessica Culey is a Denver-area freelance writer.

View all posts by Jessica Culey

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