Take Some Tips from a Waitress About Leaving Tips

Valerie Poettgen

It is a safe bet to assume that if you are reading this, you are either a college student, a restaurant server, or you have eaten at a restaurant at least once in your life- or perhaps any combination of the three. Having extensive history in all three categories, there are a few ways to go about the sport of tipping.
Firstly, make sure you can afford to go out to eat. If you cannot afford to manage to tip your server decently, rethink your plans and stay home. Problem solved! But if you have been scrimping and saving for a meal out, continue to the next step.
Evaluate your service carefully. Were you a rude customer? Did you demand four sides of barbecue sauce and eighteen soda refills within three minutes? As these are standard tasks, it should be understood that your server is there indeed to serve you- but not to be your personal slave.
Your server has likely six or seven tables just like yours, and please be aware that the restaurant does not revolve around you. But if your service is extremely slow or snotty, mentally consider that in the finals stages of tipping.
When it comes time to sign the dotted line, also ensure that your server has not left you with a pen that shocks you upon impact- which constitutes immediate grounds for a big, fat ‘zero’ tip.
Sixty-seven cents on a fifty-five dollar check is not acceptable, unless you had the world’s worst service.
If you happened to manage immediate food poisoning, or your server has stolen your date, then by all means- do not even bother to leave anything. Stiffing your server, or in other words- leaving no tip- should be left for the rare instance where something has gone horribly awry and calls for managerial assistance. Though servers do receive a paycheck, the standard of tipping is 15-20%.
If your service was standard and you had few to no complaints, lean toward the 15%. If your service was excellent or beyond, start at 20% and perhaps even go higher.
Also, be wary of the hidden gratuity that many restaurants are now adopting as a policy. In the smallest print legible, search the back or bottom of the menu to see if this applies to your case.
If you are with a group of six or more, you might be at risk. Generally, gratuity is a tax that is built into the check at a certain percentage, often 15-20%.
Many times restaurant patrons are not aware of the gratuity which is printed almost illegibly at the bottom of the check- and then tip more money on top of that, thus essentially doubling the bottom-line that the server receives.
That might be a nice surprise for your server- and it happens frequently- but as a restaurant-goer, it is important become as savvy as possible.
Honestly evaluate your behavior as a customer, as well as reflect on the performance of your server.
The relationship between customer and server can blossom beautifully given the proper amount of mutual respect.
Try not to throw a temper tantrum on either side, and in the end, remember… it’s all about the food anyway.