Tipping at a Restaurant

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Alex Parker

Whether you’re out on a date or just out to eat with a few friends, the bill always comes at some point. But what is the right amount to tip your server? It’s different for everyone. Most likely it depends on how your parents tipped when you were a kid. However, most etiquette guides will tell you that there are a few things to take into consideration while you are figuring it out.

The standard tip percentage is between 15 and 20 percent. The monetary differences between tipping before or after tax is added is pretty small so don’t fuss over it. If something goes wrong, it is customary for people to blame their server, now that’s just not fair. If you have ever worked in a restaurant you know this, a million things could go wrong with a person’s order that you have absolutely no control over. The kitchen staff could read the order wrong or just make a simple mistake. Don’t forget we are all human.

Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest shifts for a server. It doesn’t matter how many tables they have or what you order, your server is going to be running around like a madman regardless. So, expect to have to wait a little longer for everything. Also, keep in mind that food takes time to cook and your order is only one of many that the kitchen staff is cooking. Asking where your food is or giving your server a hard time is not going to make your food get to the table any faster.

Nine times out of ten, if your server makes a mistake on your order, they will apologize one hundred times and work as quickly as possible to correct it. I’m a server, I know because I’ve done it, even if the mistake wasn’t mine.

So you have to ask yourself a few questions when you are calculating a tip. How was your overall service? Was your server friendly and accommodating? Keep these other factors I mentioned earlier in mind and give your server the benefit of the doubt. Also remember that your server is most likely being paid less than minimum wage because servers make their money in tips. Plus, they have to tip out the bus boys and the bar at the end of their shift.

If you have a good dining experience make sure the tip you leave reflects that. Servers usually remember their customers, if you leave a less than satisfactory tip for good service, they probably won’t be so accommodating the second time around. 18-20 percent is completely fair unless you had terrible service, then leaving a lower tip is entirely acceptable.

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