10 March 2011

Good, Great, Super

I've always been a little jealous of those places that put tip percentages on the bottom of their checks.  You know, the little helpful math part that lays out what 15, 18, and 20% would be for example.  For some reason I think that this would entice people to leave more at the end of their meal.  Mostly I think this because I have a feeling that there is a pretty good portion of the population that really can't do simple math or are too lazy to even attempt it at all.  These are the same type of people that tip calculators were invented for.

For non-mathaletes.  CREDIT.
Now you can go ahead and tell me that I'm over generalizing the American public, but I'm a server and I know what the hell I'm talking about.  But that's really not the point of this post.

The point is that as much as I love those tip percentages - and dearly wish we had them - I love what the restaurant at Chico Hot Springs had at the bottom of their checks even more.  Rather than the typical percentages, the Chico receipt looked like this:

Good = 15%      Great = 18%      Super = 20%

That, my friends, is pure and simple genius.  Rather than have percentages at all, they simple equated the percentages to level of service.  And if my hypothesis about the arithmetic abilities of the average American hold true, this would probably make all of us servers more money.  I mean it has to be pretty hard to leave a shitty tip when you're leaving a word with your money.  That would make you look like a real douche bag.

I would do anything to write that on the bottom of every ticket I dropped on a table.  Of course I would make it even better and do something like this:

Fuck Off = 0%                     Super Douche = 5%                        Cheap Ass = 10%
Good = 15%                        Great = 18%                                    Super = 20%
Ecstasy = 25%                    Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious = >25%

Yeah, that looks about right.


  1. I also WISH we had the percentages on our checks....but I think I like your rendition better!!

  2. Hey Sauce... I'm a regular reader of your blog and am very intrigued by the tipping culture you talk about. I wonder if it's the same across the world, or just the case in US. I live in India, and conventionally about 5% is considered a pretty good tip here. The assumption is that the salary/wage of the waiter is sufficient that tipping is not required.

    Could you explain why anything less than, say a 10% tip is considered rude, over there? It would also help if you could give some figures for what percentage of your earnings come from the fixed wage, vis-a-vis tips.

  3. I like that idea. Math hurts my old, tired brain. Though even I can usually figure out 20% of a tab--which, considering how much my math sucks, makes those who can't kinda pathetic.

  4. Sivaramakrishnan, tipping is an accepted practice in the United States and anywhere between 15-20% is usually considered the norm.

    Most servers make less than the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Often their wage is far less at around $2.13 an hour. Obviously there is a big discrepancy here and tips are meant to make up this difference. When all is said an done, most servers "wages" go to taxes and tips make up their actual salary.

    In addition to the lower wage, most servers are also required to "tip out" other people in the restaurant such as bussers, bartenders, and hostesses. This means that when you're tipping the server, a percentage of that is also going to the other people who contributed to your experience. So while you may tip a server 10% for example they'll probably only see 7% or less.

    So why don't owners have to pay more? This has to do with the extreme cost of running a restaurant - specifically food costs. In paying tipped employees less, they improve their bottom line.

    While I don't totally agree with the tipping culture - I feel restaurant owners should appreciate and reward their employees more - it is accepted in the US as the norm.

  5. I completely empathize with the tipping (waited tables at night while working a social work job during the day to save up for graduate school). This is my trick: whenever I'm out to eat with someone I know is tight fisted with tipping (we all know who those people are in our lives), I say (even though I know)as though I'm thinking out loud: "So now what's customary now? Oh that's right, 15 or 20%. So glad they make tip calculators on the phones now! Does anybody want to use mine?" ;)

  6. This is a question about tipping in general. What is an appropriate tip when you're eating at a buffet restaurant? After all, you are the one getting the food.

  7. @Lisa - that is brilliant. We usually offer to pick up the tip if we are out with those type of tight fisted people.

    Sauce I don't buy into people not knowing basic math - having waitressed for a long time - it is just an excuse for being cheap, especially when there are easy ways to understand how to get to a decent tip [including the ever present cellphone tip calculator]. I don't like the checks that have suggested gratuity on them, but yours was funny. It would make me laugh.

  8. We actually tried that at my restaurant for a couple of weeks but took it off at the request of the servers. Turns out, their tips went DOWN. The reason being that A. The presented suggestion does not include the tax, and while it's not necessary to tip on the total with tax, most people do because that's the big number at the bottom and that's what people go off of. B. We noticed that people were leaving EXACTLY 15, 18, or 20 percent as opposed to just rounding up. So while it could be a good thing at some places, it wasn't for us. The servers and bartenders where I work tend to do pretty well, and it just hurt them.

  9. I disagree that figuring the percentage is simple math. I have no idea what to put in the freaking calculator to figure it out either, so I usually let my friends (who are much, much better at math) figure it out and leave the tip while I pay the rest of the check.

  10. Yeah I think your better off leaving it off. In fine dinning people are a bit insulted and 20% lets face you would have to be an idiot not to be able the figure. But maybe in other types of restaurants it works. As a patron I don't really care I can do the math and tend to over tip.

  11. @Janus: 10% or higher is customary at a buffet restaurant or a "Drive-In" (where a carhop brings your food, not to be confused with a "Drive-thru", where you just pull up to a window).

  12. @Laura Elizabeth: to figure out the tip using a calculator, you have 2 options- you can put in the total x 1.__, which will give you the new total including tip. Or you can put in the total x 0.__, for just the tip amount.

    Example: your total is $23.99 and you want to leave a 15% tip. You pull out your cell phone, and punch in
    23.99 x 1.15
    which gives you a new total of 27.59 (which I would round up to $28.00, because it's easier to deal with)



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