Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MODERN ETIQUETTE:  Ken Tremendous tweeted a question two nights ago:
Crowd source, please: when you get take-out, do you tip on credit card receipt, and if so how much?  Scenario: you order from a mid-range sit-down restaurant. Bill is $36.22. How much do you tip on the credit card receipt? I need to make this clear: I'm picking up the food at the restaurant. They're not delivering it.
So I asked Inq restaurant critic Craig LaBan yesterday in his chat, and he responded:
You do leave a tip, Adam, because someone has to coordinate, package and organize that order, which is at least as involved as walking it from the kitchen to your table. However you choose to do that - cash or credit - is up to you. But I always leave a tip on take out or delivery, 15% minimum...
Thoughts? (Ken had settled on "I'm going to say that you leave 7.5-10%. Because it's nice to tip, and working in a restaurant is hard. Can I get an amen?") I'll be honest: I hadn't been tipping before on takeout-from-non-takeout-restaurants. But I will start.


  1. Tosy and Cosh9:53 AM

    I never do, under the same rationale that I don't tip on counter service in general, and certainly not 15%. If I walk into a deli and order food someone has to "coordinate, package and organize that order" too. But I guess my question is if the restaurants where we typically order pick-up from that aren't counter places--that is, that are places with wait staff--use the wait staff to process my order. My sense is that they aren't typically being used (they don't answer the phone, I pick up the food at the bar, etc.). But I could be wrong.

  2. I likewise don't tip in this circumstance--I do pickup service of this variety about once a week or so (often, calling when I get off the subway, running a quick errand, and then picking up food on my way home), and have never ever tipped.  Similarly, when I pick up food from prepared foods at Whole Foods in my neighborhood, sometimes the food is cooked to order (they just created a burger stand), but I don't tip there.

    I do tip for delivery, and fairly generously--I live at the end of a hall in my apartment building, about as far from the elevator as you can be, so that is a few extra points, and will increase my tip when it's particularly nasty outside.

  3. Eric J.10:12 AM

    Agreed - it seems to me that all of that is done by the Hostess/Matire d', bar staff and kitchen staff/expiditers.

  4. Carmichael Harold10:17 AM

    I always thought the question regarding tips has little to do with the work done, and everything to do with how the person doing the work is compensated.  When I worked as a waiter (and I assume still), the minimum wage for waiters was significantly lower than for non-tipped employees.  For credit card payments, if, at a restaurant, the person ringing up the take-out order was a waiter, they received the tip.  If it was someone other than a waiter, then the restaurant would keep the tip.  If the tip was given in cash, whoever rang up the sale would usually pocket it.

    For all I know, the places I worked were outliers, or the practice has since changed, but my general approach has usually been I tip for take-out if it's a waiter ringing it up, but not otherwise.

  5. They should tip me for coming and picking it up.

  6. Adam C.10:29 AM

    I don't think I've ever tipped for takeout/pickup, and I'll always tip for delivery unless there's been a major cock-up. Matt raises a good point for the inevitable line-drawing question -- would you ever tip at a grocery store's prepared-food counter? I confess that the thought never occurred to me before, but then again I've also never seen a tip jar there to prompt the behavior.

  7. christy in nyc10:36 AM

    I do. When I was a waiter I did handle take-out orders, and it also affected my work in another way: my other customers had to wait longer for their orders. It always hurt when an order would come in, I'd put it through, my other customers' orders would get in line behind it, I'd pack up the take-out order, I'd bring out the take-out order, and then I'd get nothing but less-well-served dining room customers in return.

    I don't tip as high--20% is my absolute minimum for table service. I go more for 15% for take-out. Sometimes it even feels a bit awkward in the moment, but I'd rather not think back on it and wish I'd tipped.

  8. sconstant10:37 AM

    In my mind, I am a pretty generous tipper (for a number of reasons: (1) generally a water drinker, (2) omg that's a hard and underpaid job, (3) I am not Sally but do have specific requests and appreciate when they are listened to and acted on) but I do not tip for takeout. 

    My assumption is that waitstaff, bartenders, and  busboys are the ones who the tip goes to (either directly, through a pool, by tipping out, or whatever).  When the kitchen doesn't plate my order, but instead puts it into a box and then into a bag, then the waitstaff etc. is not involved.  I assume that the front-desk person who runs the phones and runs my credit card is not tip-compensated, so I don't tip.

    I love Craig and will eat wherever he tells me to, and I'm assuming he means that he tips 15% whether or not he's paying for it (as opposed to the newspaper paying for it) but until I hear I'm wrong about The Way The World Works, I'm not likely to put anything on the gratuity line (which I always just assumed was an artifact of the 'restaurant runs a credit card' option) unless something amazing or unusual is happening to my takeout order.

  9. See, that's what I had been thinking -- that the tip line was just an artifact -- and I recognize that Craig may have institutional reasons to promote more tipping -- but I am thinking about it. Hence, this post.

  10. Midwest Andrew10:47 AM

    I don't tip for buffets, either. Is that wrong? I mean, I'm getting the food and delivering it to my table.

    Also, it seems to me that tipping used to be 10 percent, then magically turned to 15 percent, and now I'm hearing people talk about it jumping to 20 percent. Tip inflation must end!

  11. ChinMusic10:50 AM

    I don't think it is a coincidence that tipping at least 15% for carryout is foreign to anyone whose livelihood is not tied to the restauant industry.  Tipping on takeout is unnecessary and tipping for carryout anywhere near what would be tipped on a delivery or dining-in experience is insane.  A few bucks (maybe round KT's bill up to $40) might be fine if you are a regular or they are speedy or it is a complicated order.  But, as a general rule, the point of carry-out is that they are providing you the food without serving you and service is the essence of the tip.     

  12. isaac_spaceman11:03 AM

    At Las Vegas buffets, either the union or the liquor laws (or maybe both, I don't know) requires that drinks be served by waiters, whose compensation depends in part on tips.  So you should tip commensurate with the amount you drink. 

  13. isaac_spaceman11:12 AM

    I always tip $5 on carry-out, no matter how much I order.  The Spacefolk tend to be regulars at the places where we do take-out, and I have always figured that that even if $5 is not enough to convey to them my sincere gratitude for their having delicious food within a short drive of my house, it is an adequate price to pay for not spitting in my food.

    There are also a few sandwich/Thai food restaurants near my office that I visit all the time.  I try to tip a buck every few times I go there, not because I feel like tipping is necessary at a sandwich/Thai food to-go shop, but because it feels like the thing to do when you're a regular.  And I always give a few bucks when I use the freebie on a frequent-flyer punch card. 

  14. Having worked in restaurants, I tip if the takeout is coordinated by the bartender or I see a waiter/waitress involved.  I generally don't tip if the whole business is takeout or the food comes directly from the kitchen to the hostess (see all Thai restaurants).

    I don't really do takeout or delivery very often, which makes me the joke of my building in Brooklyn/takeout land.  In two years, I've ordered delivery twice - the day I moved in and a day I was sick.  I can't rationalize the money or having a person bring me food when I'm perfectly able to get it.

    I do believe in tipping generously at local establishments where I am likely to make additional appearances (this has given me an excellent advantage at my brunch spot). 

  15. Daniel Fienberg12:15 PM

    If I'm at a buffet for a prolonged period of time -- and why the heck else would I be at a buffet? -- I'm eating steadily and drinking many beverages and I'm loading up on the plates of food. if my glass is regularly refilled and my used plates are regularly bussed away from me, I tip the same way I would tip at any restaurant. They're not bringing me food, but they're crucial to my ability to enjoy my buffet experience. Obviously if the plates pile up around me and my glass goes unfilled, I don't tip at a buffet.


  16. Nigel from Cameroon12:19 PM

    I tip full-service restaraunt take out 10-15% (20% is standard for me at sit-down meals). I think anyone who does not tip is, frankly, rationalizing or just being cheap.

  17. If I drive to pick it up, I'm not tipping.  The end.  The only exception is if it's a significant order (like getting dozens of wings for the Super Bowl or a giant party platter) or if it's a place where you're a regular.

    And it's not cheap, it's called setting boundaries for the insanity that has become the expected tip.  And I used to work in a restaurant, so I know if you've earned it.  Start at 15% for normal service, and go up or down from there (auto-tipping 20% is crazy for half assed service).

  18. It was interesting when it popped up on Twitter because I had never once thought about tipping when I pick up my food. Like other people here, I thought the tip line on the credit card receipt was just because the card was running through the regular card reader. However, I do tip generously for delivery, particularly during extreme Chicago weather. I also tip my regular Starbucks and Subway spots but only really whatever loose change is coming back from the bill.

    Can we open up a new thread for how much to tip the housekeeping staff at a hotel? I feel awful that I gypped housekeeping at my last hotel stay. I overslept and had to pack while the cab was waiting. Totally forgot to leave any cash. D'oh!

  19. Jim Bell12:34 PM

    "It's not tipping I believe in, It's over tipping."

  20. Rebecca12:35 PM

    Context: I make most of my living as a bartender, I do not expect 20% on to-go order's (when I've worked @ restaurants they've been buzzed-about places in NYC where you would never leave less than that for table service). I tip $5-$10 cash when I order takeout.

    First, allow me to disabuse you of the notion that the kitchen is boxing up your food. I have never seen a chef put food in a box. I might even pay to see a chef put food in a box. I have seen a chef complain to me that I am putting food in a box (compromises the integrity of the dish), swear at me for not knowing where the boxes are (stop moving the boxes!), tell me I can't have a box and ask me and my box to get out of his way. My barback had to see these things much more often than I did. Boxing up food in a busy kitchen when you're front of house staff is not fun. I used to work at a super-hot NYT two star that did a lot of "comfort food", at that place I would soooooooo much rather have a half hour conversation with you about the wines of Alsace than place a to-go order for you.

    In my experience, in New York, more and more places are pooled houses, in which case the host/maitre d'/reservationist is probably getting between one and three points in the pool. If it's not a pooled house, and all take out is run through the host stand, the CC Grat line probably *is* a relic and a tip left on the line doesn't even get put in. Nobody is going to run an extra report to give a hostess the $6 Craig LaBan left her.

    Basically, there are a million ways the system could work, so if you've got some cash to spare, slide it to the person who hands you the slip to sign. If it's the hostess, even if she's putting it in the pool, that's the kind of stuff that gets you a table next time.

  21. Marsha12:35 PM

    I've never tipepd on carry out. Like others above, I believe that the cost of packing my order up is part of overhead - I don't tip for the guy who brought the ingredients to the restaurant, nor for the chef. That's the cost of the meal. Tipping is an artifact of the weird way waiters are paid  - we tip on service. If I go get the meal from the restaurant, there's been no "service" beyond what is incuded in overhead.If someone did something extra special for me, I'd tip - there's service there. Otherwise, no.

    I am not cheap, and I very much value the hard work done in restaurants. I consider myself a good tipper - I usually assume that the extra dollar or two it will take me to bring that tip up to a generous percentage (I don't eat at fancy places often) is going to mean a whole lot more to the person who receives it than it does to me. And if my kids make a mess, I've been known to tip outrageously high. But the cost of my meal includes the restaurant's overhead. We have a norm of tipping on service when we go and sit down at a table. The stuff that happens in the kitchen is not service, and that's what the money I paid for the food is for.

  22. This whole topic has Mr. Pink rolling over in his grave.

  23. Genevieve12:46 PM

    But don't they have to run the card for the amount you signed it for?  Why is there an extra report to run? (or is that to add it to the pool?)

  24. Genevieve12:47 PM

    I'd also be interested in hearing how much people tip cab drivers.

  25. First off, let me say - it's not the customer's responsibility to understand how an establishment pays its employees.


    When I was a waitress at a big chain restaurant (think SchmoFarley's) on Friday and Saturday nights, one unlucky member of waitstaff would be pulled to work ENTIRELY on carryout orders.  You had no tables to wait on, but were still paid the half-minimun wage (at that time $2.13/hr) as if you were receiving tips from customers.  So when people didn't tip (which was the case more often than not) that waiter/waitress was lucky to make minimum wage.  Now, the takeout person was included in that night's tipshare with the busboys/bartenders/hostess/etc, but that was a pittance by the time it was divided so many ways. If you got a takeout shift, you were unlikely to make minimum wage that night and had to hope the next shift would be a big earner.

    So, my general rule of thumb: if my order is brought to me by someone who looks like a waiter/waitress, I tip something, maybe 10-15%, because, yeah, they didn't have to wait on me for the hour or so I take to eat a regular meal, but they are probably reliant on the tips to make up their salary that night.  If the order is handled by a bartender at the bar, I throw a buck or two - they had to take time out from making drinks (serving people who are going to tip and tip well, most likely) to deal with my order. But then again, they've got lots of other tippers to make their night.

  26. Matt B1:00 PM

    Do we really believe that the work in packaging and organizing a take-out order is as involved as waiting on a table?

  27. Shani1:03 PM

    I am a generous tipper for both table service and home delivery, but picking up takeout means that I am doing the work I'd tip for.

    I'll sometimes round up, but only if I want to show appreciation for something special - a complicated order, really fast service, etc.  (this is why I tip for my decaf 2% no-whip two-pump mocha lattes).

  28. Watts1:10 PM

    Of course it's not - that's why you don't tip as much.

    But when I was the takeout person, here's what I had to do:
    1. Take your phone call and get your order over the background noise of the kitchen, hoping I got everything right on the first go because you probably didn't want me calling you back to check on something.
    2. Put that order into the kitchen, with whatever special requests or particular were required.
    3. Package it the best way possible, making sure that you got all appropriate sauces, condiments, toppings, utensils, napkins, straws, etc.  If your dish is supposed to be served with a garnish of some sort, it wasn't the kitchen that would put that on. If you had a salad, it was me, the waitress who got that salad together and packaged up the requested dressing. I made sure you got your beloved yeast rolls. I made sure you got the bacon bits in your potato soup.  That was all me, not the "kitchen."  And I was paid $2.13/hr (half the minimum wage) to do it.

  29. So do delivery people share their tips with the rest of the restaurant staff?  If so, that is kind of annoying because I tend to tip extra for bad weather and expected that to go to the person actually braving the weather.  If not, then why would I pay the restaurant staff more when I pick it up then when the delivery guy does?  Is there really a difference between them boxing the meal for me to carry away rather than the delivery guy?

  30. For cabs:

    1.  If paying credit card, they typically get 20%, because that's the cheapest automatic option on NYC taxi payment screens.  It's a little higher than I'd tip paying cash, but beceause they get hit by the processing fees on the fare, I don't feel as bad.
    2.  If paying cash, a "keep the change" tactic is customary, though there are awkward decisions there--if you have a $7.20 cab fare, for instance, $8 seems too low, but $9 seems too high.  Extra tipping if I'm dealing with bags or a complicated multi-passenger thing.

  31. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Las Vegas is one thing. But say you're at a pizza buffet, where you get your own drinks and food. The only task of the wait staff is to remove plates, which I don't really mind if they stack up (2-3 is usually all I get anyway). I'm not tipping for that. That's not the same experience as going to a sit-down restaurant, which I will absolutely tip for.

  32. Midwest Andrew1:34 PM

    Oops, that was me.

  33. Rebecca1:37 PM

    The card is already run at the time you put the tip in, we have to go back and adjust it (which is why your tip might show up on your statement at a later date if you close your tab around midnight). I've decided to not put a tip in after men have aggressively hit on me and over-tipped me just because it makes me feel dirty. You're probably not supposed to do that, but I've never had a guest call back because I didn't charge them enough (the time my former coworker accidentally gave herself a $400 tip because she put in an extra zero? That one they called back on).The place where I hostessed in high school wasn't pooled and ran takeout through us, we gave the credit card to the manager, they ran it under their number so there wasn't a server report to run, and when somebody tipped on the car we just thought, "aww, that's nice."

  34. sconstant1:51 PM

    Rebecca: Possibly the distinction here is that most (all) of the places I'm carrying out from, here in random suburbia, are not places where "that's the kind of stuff that gets you a table next time" makes sense as words put together in that order.  And "compromises the integrity of the dish" would mostly be an odd word combination as well. 

    I take out from places that generally answer their phones "is this pickup or delivery" - when/if I take out from places of the fancypantsier variety (where the phone greeting includes the name of the restaurant and not so much a list of options for the transport of your food) I will keep what you said in mind, but until then, still thinking that it's not really tippable.

  35. all of the above, and (when I was a bartender) your order was rung up on my drawer and added to my total sales for the night which meant that I tipped out the bussers and hostesses on an inflated number, whether the takeout customer tipped or not. also, in this restaurant, the servers/bartenders paid the credit card fees, which was a few more pennies that I paid for your takeout. granted, none of this is the customer's problem, it's just a screwy system.

  36. sconstant1:57 PM

    If you want to tip someone specifically, one way to do that is to make sure there's cash involved that's separate from the "usual" tip or delivery fee. 

    Sometimes at a restaurant, I will tip 15% on the credit card slip and put the "overtip" that I want to give the server in the foldy thing in cash.  That way the person (hopefully) understands that I think they went above and beyond.  They can then make the decision as to whether to put the cash in their pocket or in the kitty, if there is one. 

  37. bristlesage1:59 PM

    This is pretty much my method, although sometimes it's a little less than $5 on carryout, sometimes a bit more.  Basically, it's tied to how fast I can get in and out.  If my order comes to $36.22, I just hand over/sign for $40 and walk away.  If my order comes to $34.22, I hand over $40 and walk away.  Round up to the nearest round number or nearest $5, if going to the round number makes it feel like too much. 

    And yeah, a buck when I think of it at Starbucks (which is pooled tips based on hours worked), a few bucks at quick-service if my stuff was free.

  38. janet2:11 PM

    I can't believe I've read this far down without finding mention of curb service. If I walk in to pick up the order, I don't leave a tip. If they bring it to my car, I tip about 10%.

  39. Tosy and Cosh2:13 PM

    Nothing new to add except that this is the most fascinating comments section I've seen in a while.

  40. Rebecca2:18 PM

    Are you talking about the Pizza Hut pizza buffet?! I love the Pizza Hut pizza buffet! But I feel like there was always somebody bringing me diet Coke refills. Whatever, I just want Pizza Hut buffet now! I think my parents always tipped 20% when they took us to that, but that was their standard and I could be okay with someone leaving 10% (which is what? $4 on a four top?). At the end of the day, buffet customers probably stay *at least* 1.4 times as long as a table splitting a pie, even if they have salad and breadsticks, so while your server/busser does do things other than clear plates (take your order and present/cash out your bill, fill straws and napkins, change the syrup in the soda machine, wipe down menus, set-up sanitizer buckets (you want there to be sanitizer buckets), possibly even fill the buffet, sweep the sidewalk...especially when you consider bus staff) to me, leaving absolutely nothing is particularly rough because you're taking away the opportunity to make tips off that table. Also, many restaurants will automatically report to the IRS, that a server made an amount equal to 10% of his credit card sales as tips, in order to avoid being audited. As I understand, the employees in cafeterias, Whole Foods, Chipotle and the like, are not tipped workers and are paid an hourly wage that meets or exceeds the state and federal minimum. Those are environments in which it is appropriate not to tip. 

  41. christy in nyc2:29 PM

    <p>But the scenario is that you're getting take-out from a sit-down restaurant. I interpret that as a place whose primary business is sit-down dining. I'd think anywhere that answers the phone "pickup or delivery" (even here in the big city, that covers plenty of places that also have tables) is treating the two functions at least equally, if not leaning toward being primarily take-out.
    </p><p>ps. I <3 Rebecca's paragraph about chefs and boxes.

  42. spacewoman2:41 PM

    Man, curb service.  I would be so happy just for non-metered parking within a block of the restaurant. 

  43. Rebecca2:51 PM

    My cab fare is always roughly $12, apparently I only go places that cost $12 to get to so my move is generally to take out a twenty and ask for a five back. If it's Saturday night and I've already had three guys refuse to take me to Brooklyn, even though I live four blocks from the bridge, I'll add a little extra. I generally only take cabs to the airport at Christmas and then I tip a little excessively.

  44. Eric J.2:56 PM

    That really sucks - it seems like a manager who wasn't a complete jerk would at least rotate the job around through the night- give people 60-90 minute shifts on carry-out.

  45. sconstant3:07 PM

    All the places I'm talking about are places with tables and waiters, but enough takeout/delivery business so that most of their phone calls are about takeout/delivery orders.  Where I am, only the high-end sit-down places require reservations (and then only for Friday/Saturday crush times).  I guess I don't know if their primary business is sit-down dining, but it's a significant part of their business, even if it's not a significant part of their phone business.

    If I'm fighting the hypothetical I apologize, but I didn't feel I was.

  46. Eric J.3:11 PM

    Another variation I wonder about, and I'd particularly like to hear from the Northern VA. contingent.

    At many Pho joints around here, a waiter will take your order and bring your food, but will never check to see if your drink needs a refill, if you'd like anything else, and you go up to the cash register yourself at the end of the meal to pay. So I typically leave a dollar if the meal is < $10 and about 15% otherwise. (My standard for regular table service is %20)

    Has anyone else noticed this, and does it affect how you tip for your Tai, Gan?

  47. isaac_spaceman3:12 PM

    If you are paying cash and the fare is $7.20, $9 is absolutely not too low.  $10 should be standard.  A cab driver who takes you a very short distance has lost the fare and tip from a longer ride.  Don't quibble over that buck-something.  If you want to save money, take the bus. 

  48. isaac_spaceman3:13 PM

    I read this as "and if my kids make a meal, I've been known to tip outrageously high."  So my first thought was "you tip your kids?  JESUS CHRIST YOU ARE DOING THIS WRONG." 

  49. isaac_spaceman3:20 PM

    To return to my original point, there are many differences between table service and take-out packaging, but you know what is the same?  The service of not spitting in your food.  I'll pay for that, thanks.

  50. isaac_spaceman3:23 PM

    Since I'm pretty much filling up the comments section here, I should mention that the appropriate tip for your copywriter is "everything you have in your pocket." 

  51. Marsha3:25 PM

    If my kids cook for me at this age, what they're getting is not a tip, but serious punishment for having used the stove/oven without an adult supervising.

  52. bristlesage3:32 PM

    Although when I've taken short rides before and apologized, I've often had the cabbie say they prefer it.  That way, they keep getting that flag pull, they say, and the tips add up more quickly.  Also a decreased chance of getting tangled up in traffic, apparently. Whether all that's true for everyone/everywhere, I don't know, but I do see some sense in it.

  53. bristlesage3:32 PM

    Anything less would be uncouth.

  54. Rebecca3:36 PM

    I feel like the distinction here might be, "Is it as nice as Applebees?" If it's as nice as Applebees, I feel you have to tip. But then, I tip at diners too. I feel like if they answer the phone, "pick up or delivery" they have a delivery/cashier person who is probably making minimum wage or off the books and that's a situation in which one has the opportunity but not the imperative to tip. I don't think I've ever been to a place like that, but I don't think I'd go to the trouble of "calculating" a tip there, it'd probably be a keep the change situation.

    Also, let's be real, if it's not that busy and it doesn't inconvenience someone to fill your order, it's not that big a deal.

  55. Marsha3:42 PM

    I have never, that I recall, patronized an establishment that offered curb service. I once got a very nice server from a casual place I go to regularly to bring something out to my car when I first had a kid and couldn't figure out how to manage everything at once, but that's it. And I gave him a huge tip.

    Curb service would be awesome.

  56. Watts3:47 PM

    It was the way of the SchmoFarley's.  You knew they were trying to make someone quit when they got that shift several weekends in a row.

  57. Rebecca - where do you live?  I'm in hipsterville, BK and most of my cabs are $12, which usually end up as $15.

  58. I'll go with a "keep the change" sort of scenario when I'm at a Sonic or similar, which is the closest I get to curb service most of the time.

  59. I just need to know where and how often people are spitting in Isaac's food.

  60. Maret4:57 PM

    I also find this post and comments fascinating. I tip and I overtip. If I'm unsure what to tip, I tip more rather than less. I tip for delivery and for take-out that I pick up, usually about 15%. And I tip 20% when I'm sitting in. 

    Also, different jobs have their own difficulties depending on the place. One place where I hostessed was famous for brunch and had a no reservations policy. The host stand and line were outside, which in the summer in Pasadena is often 90 degrees or higher. And the wait would range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. As hostess, was I taking orders, filling glasses, balancing plates and managing multiple tables? No. But I was gauging the wait time, how fast various tables were eating, helping bus the tables so I could seat people next, keeping the hot waiting crowds at bay, and trying to accurately estimate the wait for everyone as they came up to put their name in. And handing out little samples of iced coffees to keep people calm and happy, so that hopefully, after their wait, they would be happy with their food, would tip their server well, so that my portion of that server's tip would be worthy of the song and dance.

    All of that was my job and that was fine -- and certainly the job responsibilities vary from establishment to establishment. But my attitude now is always that I don't know where the different responsibilities at different places fall, and that no matter what, everyone at the restaurant probably has to deal with hassles that I'm glad are not my own. I remember fondly to this day certain regulars who were appreciative of time and effort and tipped accordingly, even handling me a dollar or two separately from their server as they left, and I equally remember a few people who we all thought of as the cheapest, most unpleasant people ever to eat there. I would like to either not be memorable, or to be memorable for being a pleasant patron and good tipper.

  61. Seriously: he's more worried about people spitting in his food than the Wicked Witch of the West is of water.

  62. GinnaD5:18 PM

    I'm just fascinated by the notion that people go to fancy, sit-down type restaurants and order take-out. That's...something I've never done. Never even contemplated. And when I worked at a fancy restaurant while in school, both as a waitress and bartender, I never encountered it. Take-out boxes were for uneaten food. 

    Learn something new every day!

    Also, when I get take-out, exclusively from take-out or delivery places, I am happy to drop money in the tip jar, but would never tip on a credit card receipt. I don't get delivery because I live in the middle of nowhere, and no one delivers. 

  63. Jenn C5:39 PM

    Not that all Asian restaurants are the same...but we have quite a few family friends who own Chinese or Thai restaurants and tips are always pooled (some just go to the owner!), but I still feel compelled to tip. 

    I don't typically tip at a pho place b/c it's like the Asian McDonald's (I think of it as "quick service" vs table service).

  64. The place I get takeout from most frequently is Parm, which is a very diner-like environment despite having 2 stars from the Times.  They don't offer delivery, don't have a tip jar, and serve at the counter--stuff comes directly off the grill into boxes that's going for takeout, and haven't been tipping.  Nor do I tip when, from time to time, I'll call in (or order online) and pick up a pizza from somewhere that's otherwise exclusively.  If the pizza's being delivered, I'll tip, but not if I'm picking it up.

  65. Andrew5:54 PM

    Always get in the cab first and only then tell the driver that you're going to Brooklyn. The exception, if the driver is Off Duty and trolling for a fare going in a particular direction. Otherwise, the driver has to take you anywhere in the five boroughs. When I go to Brooklyn, I always tip well. (Not extravagantly, but at least a dollar more than I would on a comparable $10-$12 cab ride within Manhattan.)

  66. Genevieve5:58 PM

    The cheapest automatic option on DC taxi payment screens is 15%.  I tend to pay 15% unless it was a really good cabbie (knew routes to avoid traffic, stopped for me on a nasty rainy day, knew the way to get me where I'm going once given the address, w/o long quibbling w/me about which way to go, in a way that makes it clear he's not really sure how to get there -- if they ask me once which way and I say "whichever you think will be fastest this time of day," and they keep asking me 4 or 5 different ways, I get annoyed.  I have a negative sense of direction, and can't give directions for anything beyond the very last stretch on my way home or to work).

    I take a lot of cabs at the moment due to injuries (taking the bus therefore not an option), so I run into this a lot.  For $7.20, if I had .20, I'd give him $10.20 and ask for a dollar back.  (Rounding up all the time can really add up for me at this point.)  That's a more than 20% tip so I think it's fine.  Generally, if in doubt, I round up a dollar, but not to the nearest $5.

  67. Genevieve6:03 PM

    I pretty much do pho only as takeout, because eat-in service is as scanty as you mentioned. 

  68. isaac_spaceman6:49 PM

    Sit-down and fancy are not the same thing.  I sit down on the BART train, and, you know, BART train.   

  69. Jim Bell7:46 PM

    No dirty talk s.  

  70. lisased9:04 PM

    It does make you wonder what he's been doing to the wait staff all these years.

  71. lisased9:14 PM

    I spent most of my college years waiting tables and am of the opinion that everyone should wait tables for at least a summer. It's a good skill to learn, it can get you a job in any town, and it teaches you that not every mishap should be blamed on the server. 

    I tip 10% on carry out (mainly sushi), and I tip well when I am served in a sit-down restaurant. I started tipping my sushi people when Tom Sietsema (the Washington Post's food critic) pointed out how packaging the food, pouring the soy sauce, packing the chopsticks, etc. was a form of service. 

    Strangely, I do not tip my Starbucks people. I will start doing that. 

  72. <span>Ah, but what about recognition for your tip? Do you make sure someone notices your goodwill?  </span> (Seinfeld clip of George's calzones for Mr. Steinbrenner)

  73. isaac_spaceman9:42 PM

    Dummy, they're not spitting in my food.  THAT'S WHAT THE MONEY IS FOR.  

  74. Genevieve11:36 AM

    I think Sietsema is what got me started tipping for carryout sushi etc.  Usually 10-15% - at the restaurant near my office where I'm a regular, I tend to tip 20% on takeout too.

  75. Genevieve11:37 AM

    lisased, we frequent an indie coffee shop, where my husband taught our son very young, "Always tip your barista!"  I don't feel as obligated at Starbucks for some reason (those baristas probably are paid the same), but our baristas know us and are very friendly.

  76. They will definitely spit on your food there.

  77. Gleemonex1:01 PM

    This, exactly, Christy. Same here. 

  78. Rebecca2:44 PM

    I know, but between 4-5am in areas that have a lot of nightlife traffic, everyone generally has their doors locked, windows rolled down and asks where you're going before you get in (which is probably illegal as well, yes? but it's my reality)

  79. Rebecca3:27 PM

    This. Particularly where bus staff/barbacks are concerned. If I see you discretely slip cash to my barback, I will treat you like Santa Claus. You will get to order whenever you want. You will get buybacks. You will be taken care of. Those dudes work too hard for not enough money and I already tip them out the most I can afford.

  80. J. Bowman8:21 PM

    I don't tip on takeout, any more than I tip at Chick-Fil-A or the grocery store. I have paid for someone to prepare and package the food for me; that's why they put prices on the menu. The idea that I owe someone else an additional monetary favor for doing the very thing I have just paid for is absurd on its face.

    I think the worst thing about our nation's transition to a service based economy over the last 20-30 years (other than, of course, the increasing spikes in unemployment during downturns) is the proliferation of folks who were long-term waitstaff, and are only too eager to tell me Just How Hard It Really Is if I go one dime under 18%, as if I've never worked in food service. I tip plenty if the service is good, poorly if it's bad. You know who else has a hard job where they're underpaid and have to put up with ungrateful people and take crap for things that aren't their fault? EVERYONE. Nut up.