Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Foodie Tip: Tipping

Leif and I have had an on going argument for several years on that taboo and tread lightly subject...tipping.

After surviving one semester waiting tables in culinary school, my place was cemented in the kitchen and my undying respect for those who serve crabby, manipulative, high maintenance diners was born. Both Leif and I are and always will be thoughtful and generous tippers, but our controversy has been about food delivery.

Let me put it gently...delivery drivers would be much happier to have Leif open the door than me...unless we ordered one egg roll.

Leif tips according to the amount of the bill; he gives the driver a percentage just as if we were eating in a restaurant. Okay consider this... a driver brings a single bag of delivery food containing two cheeseburgers, an order of fries and future heart attack that has a value of $6.20; according to Leif the driver should be tipped $1.00. Now the same driver travels the same distance to the same location schlepping the same size bag only this time to drop off a gorgeous seared ahi tuna Nicoise salad, a crusty demi baguette, and a side of snobbery valued at $32.65. According to Leif's tipping matrix this same driver would now receive a $5.00 tip. This makes no sense to me at all. It makes me think I should tip a flower delivery driver more if she brings calla lilies and roses than a bunch of lame ass carnations. I sit firmly in the camp that delivery tips (unless you've ordered so much food that more than on trip to the car is required) should hover in the $3-$5 range irrespective of the order.

This how my mind works, but guess what...I AM TOTALLY WRONG.

Appalling, but true. There I was reading my trusted BA Foodist column when he lowered the boom...no need to tip for take out, but 15-20% of the total check before tax is merely human when it comes to delivery. Congrats Leif. I drop my sword at your feet and more cash at the door.
Just in case, like me, you are now doubting everything you thought you knew was true about tipping...here are some tips from tipguide.org to keep you straight.
  • If you get awful service, talk to the manager. The manager cannot correct the situation if he doesn't know about it. Skipping the tip will not accomplish anything, and the next poor customer who gets that server will get the same service you did.
  • If you are buying the meal and someone offers to get the tip, tell them they can buy next time, and you pay the whole thing. This prevents any uneasiness about them seeing the amount of the bill or worrying that they will be stingy on the tip.
  • Restaurants report a percentage (around 12%) of the gross sales for food and beverage to the IRS for their staff. This means that if you have a $200 food bill and $200 wine bill, the restaurant will report 12% of $400 or $48 as income to the server. In other words, the server has to pay tax on it whether you tip it or not. If the restaurants do not report it accurately, the restaurant and the wait staff get audited by the IRS.
  • Please don't get hung up on the 12%. It is just a reasonable example. Tip 10-15% on the alcohol and 15-20% on the food. 10% on the wine is perfectly acceptable. Whether to tip 10 or 15 percent would depend in large part on how helpful the server was in choosing the wine and serving it.
  • Food server - 15-20%.
  • Self-service restaurant or buffet - Nothing unless there is some service. Tip 10% if the server delivers all or part of your meal or keeps your drinks refilled.
  • Takeout - If you get good service, in other words, the waiter gets and packages the food, then at your choice you can tip $1-2 or up to 10%. Nothing is really necessary.
  • Drive through - Nothing.
  • When breakfast is included in the price of the hotel room - Estimate the value of the meal by looking at a menu. If there is no breakfast menu, consider the quality of the hotel and the price of an evening meal, then make your best estimate. Your tip is 15-20% of your estimate.
  • Counter service - 15-20%.
  • Cocktail server - 15-20%. For free drinks in Vegas, tip $1-2 per round.
  • Bartender - 15-20% or $1 per drink. If at the bar before a meal, settle up with the bartender before you go to your table.
  • Wine steward or sommelier - 10% of wine bill.
  • If a bar has a cover charge, you do not tip on it.
  • Busboys - Nothing, unless he did something extra special like cleaning up a huge mess. Then give him $1-2.
  • Maitre d' - Nothing, unless he gets you a special table or the restaurant is full and you had no reservation. Then give $5-10 or more.
  • Coat check - $1
  • Restroom attendant - $1
  • Separate checks - If you want separate checks, ask the server to go ahead and add 18% gratuity to each check.
  • Musician that visits table - $2-3 if you make a special request. Optional if he just stops by and plays.
  • Musician in lounge - $1-5

And I looked it up...you don't even have to tip a carnation or rose toting flower delivery driver at all!


Mary said...

hmmmmmm...i tip every food delivery guy $3
flat rate. i don't tip flower people...it's a gift for me. In restaurants I always tip min 20%

Penny said...

Wow!! I'm impressed. Nonetheless, I am still a firm believer in your original thoughts on delivery tipping so $3 bucks it is from me. Sorry to all of you delivery guys out there.

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