Last week, we ate at a nice restaurant that I’d never been to before, and had exceptionally great service. It caused me to reflect back on my 6 years of waiting tables, and I had some thoughts that I felt are worth sharing, and may or may not be commonly well known.
- Always go in to the meal planning on tipping 20%. That is the minimum base rate for acceptable service.
- The tip will be adjusted based on the service throughout the course of the meal. If my water glass is left empty for too long, or if they are absent often, or he’s being too conversational when we are on a date, or a myriad of other reasons, I will mentally start subtracting from the base tip. (I heard of a guy who goes to a restaurant and sets a stack of 20 one dollar bills on the table, then tells the server “That’s your tip. Bills will start leaving the stack if your service is bad.” Okay, so literally doing that is kind of…rough…but I basically do the same thing in my head).
- Never blame kitchen issues on the server. The chef overcooked your steak, not the server. Don’t take it out on him by lessening the tip. Chances are, he’s trying hard to make it right and he’s mad at the chef too.
- Busyness of the restaurant must factor in to the tip subtraction. You can’t expect the same attention on a Friday at 7p that you’d get on a Tuesday during lunchtime.
- Never tip below 10%, even if it’s the worst service you ever had. Unless they peed in your drink or something, they still deserve some payment. Servers only make $2.13 an hour in their checks, which quickly disappears to Uncle Sam, so literally every penny they earn is from your tips.
- Sunday lunches after church – ALWAYS tip well. I change my base tip rate to 30% on Sundays, because every server knows it’s the Christians coming to eat after church. Sadly, many servers have a very low view of Sunday Christians because we often fail to tip, are rude, or let our kids run amuck in the restaurant after loading up on goldfish and kool-aid at church.
- Your server is reciting through the script of welcome and daily specials because he has to, not because he wants to. Don’t be rude or interrupt.
To all my current and former server friends – what do you guys think? Anything missing from my list? Anything on there you would challenge or change?