Happening:

Some things you might not know about tipping

Ar 160809940
Illustration by David Holub/DGO
Ar 160809940
Illustration by David Holub/DGO

Lets face it, tipping can be a hassle sometimes, a strain on the bank account. Especially when the social norm is to leave a $40 tip on a $200 dinner bill for average service. Working at a restaurant where the cost of dinner and drinks for two is often more than $100, I think about the tipping customs a lot. Was my errand-running and food delivery really worth $20? If I were dining out, would I want to leave a 20 percent tip after receiving this service? These are all questions that keep me motivated to provide my best hospitality.

Tipping was introduced to America in the early 1900s, and over time has evolved and become ingrained in our culture. Here’s some up-to-date knowledge on the various customs and suggested rules for tipping – in the restaurant world at least.

How much is gratuity again?The average tip should be 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, including alcohol. The general rule is to tip according to the service received. The way I like to think of it when I am eating out is that I am renting the booth or table in the server’s section. I am going to tip them 10 percent for the booth and 10 percent for the service.

It’s also important to remember that a portion of each tip will be given to the bartender and the busser; when you tip, you are not just tipping your server. On the server’s part it takes a lot of memory games, paying attention to detail and engaging with customers. When multiplied by five tables all hoping for fast and efficient service, things start to become hectic. From the time the hostess seats the guests to the time I drop off a fresh slice of key lime pie and coffee at the table with the check, I do my best to remain attentive without being an overbearing, helicopter server. For the most part, people tip accordingly.

Waitstaff wageIn Colorado, and many other states, “tip credit” counts toward part of the minimum wage. The tip credit allows employers to pay waitstaff and tipped employees a minimum of $2.13 an hour, plus tips. The idea behind this is that, on average, when adding tips, waiters and tipped employees are making an hourly amount equal to or greater than the minimum wage. The U.S. Department of Labor defines a “tipped employee” as someone who regularly receives more than $30 per month in tips. In the restaurant world, these employees normally include bartenders, servers and bussers.

Tipping and credit cardsIt’s common for a table to leave a cash tip after paying their bill with a credit card. In this case, it is best if the customer writes “0” in the tip line on the receipt instead of “cash.” Why? If the tip on the credit card is zero, the server does not have to claim the tip at the end of the night. If “cash” was written in the tip line, the server has to claim a portion of the tip that was left. It all boils down to taxable income. If the income was not reported or claimed, it is not taxable. Another thing to keep in mind is that some restaurants pay credit card tips in the employee’s paycheck. Leaving a cash tip allows the server to collect the tip at the end of the night rather than at the end of the pay period.

Tipping on to-go orders and buffets When placing a to-go order its important to leave a couple of dollars (generally 10 percent of the bill) toward the tip. Although you didn’t sit down at a table or receive service, staff still took the time to prepare your food to-go. The suggested tip for buffet style eating is similar. You are “renting” a table in the server’s section and they are taking the time to refill drinks and clear empty plates – 10 percent should be the minimum tip left.

It should go without saying that if the service provided is considered bad or unacceptable, the customer does not have to tip the suggested 20 percent, but in my 23 years of eating out, I’ve never had a waiter who didn’t deserve a $4 tip on a $20 check. Though tipping is not required, it is part of the dining experience and is greatly appreciated.

Taylor Ferraro provides five-star service and entertainment at the Red Snapper. She is also a massage therapist and KDUR DJ. Contact her at tferr8@hotmail.com.