Restaurant Tipping Etiquette

By Jared Shurtz
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Tipping can be baffling. After all, different types of restaurants with different levels of service mandate different tipping amounts. To add to the confusion, tipping etiquette has changed dramatically over the past several years and there is a lot of debate regarding what is (and is not) considered proper tipping.

Though the exact origin of tipping is unknown, there is evidence that the practice dates back to ancient Rome. It was – and to an extent, still is – a method of coaxing stellar service from otherwise listless, uninterested attendants. These days, those “attendants” are mainly comprised of wait staff, many of whom rely on tips to supplement their income. Not sure what constitutes a “proper” tip? Here’s everything you need to know about tipping in restaurants.

Sit-Down Restaurants

  • Standard tipping at restaurants with wait staff (both casual and fine dining) is approximately 15 to 20 percent of the total bill before taxes.
  • Some restaurants may suggest tipping after taxes if the servers tip out on the total amount after taxes.
  • If wine or alcohol was served with dinner, you should still tip 15 to 20 percent on the total bill, even for expensive bottles of wine.
  • Many fine dining establishments will incur a gratuity charge for parties of 8 or more. This can range anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the total bill.

Bars

  • Patrons should tip bartenders 15 to 20 percent of the bar tab or one dollar for beer and wine and two dollars for cocktails and mixed drinks.
  • If you’re having drinks at a restaurant before dinner, make sure to resolve your bar tab before being seated at your table.

Cafes/Casual Restaurants

  • If you order at the front of a restaurant and the food is delivered to your table, tipping is optional. In many such restaurants, the food is brought to your table as a convenience and tipping is not obligatory.
  • Similarly, tip jars are also optional; however, a 5 to 10 percent tip is appropriate for complicated orders and/or exceptional service.
  • Tipping is not necessary or generally practiced at fast-food restaurants.
  • At buffet-style restaurants (much like those found in casinos), if you have a server who takes drink orders and checks on you periodically, leaving a tip of $2 to $3 is appropriate.

Non-Wait Staff

  • If the restaurant has a parking attendant or valet service, tip between $1 and $3.
  • Coatroom attendants are generally tipped $1 per coat they check.
  • An appropriate tip for a restroom attendant is between 50 cents and $1.
  • If the restaurant has a wine steward, tip 10 percent of the total wine bill.

When it comes to tipping, the best rule of thumb to follow is to leave a tip that reflects your satisfaction as a customer. If you do not feel that the service was up to par, you should not feel obligated to leave stellar tip. On the contrary, exceptional service deserves a corresponding gratuity.

Make sure to visit our Restaurant Website reviews site to find out the best restaurants to practice your new tipping techniques.

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