06 July 2011

Tipping and To Go

A Hooters Girl will not come with your to go order.
For all you people who like to order food to go from your favorite dine in restaurants, doing so is not an excuse to avoid tipping.  Yes, believe it or not you should tip the waitress/bartender/hostess who gets you all that yummy food no matter where you choose to eat it.  Now before you get all “well you’re a server of course you want to take my effing money at every possible opportunity” let me tell you why you should be tipping on all that to go food.

For starters, what makes you think no work is involved with a to go order?  Like always I take the order and deliver the order to you.  I also make sure to include anything and everything you might need to enjoy all that boxed-up, fried goodness.  I get wet naps and sodas and cutlery and menus and condiments and even a handy reminder on how best to heat all that food up again in case traffic slows you down and it goes all cold.  Then I bag it all up and make sure it’s ready to go for you.  I collect your money and bring you change.  I even wish you a great day as you head out the door.  All of that so I can look down and see that you didn’t tip me a dime.

Now I will state that I certainly am not expecting you to tip as much as if you were dinning in.  Would I like you to tip 20% on your pick-up order?  Hells to the yes I would, but that’s hardly realistic.  What I would like is a nice 10% tip that reflects the fact that I am still giving you a valuable service.  Because lets face it, me giving you trays of fried food to stuff in your face in the comfort of your own home is a damn valuable service if you ask me.

And besides, I still have to tip out on your food whether it’s to go or not.  For those of you unfamiliar with the process of “tipping out,” this is basically the restaurant’s way of compensating other employees who are also vital to your dinning experience.  These include cooks, bartenders, hostesses, dishwashers and the like.  And whether you realize it or not, all these people are generally somewhat involved in your to go order.  And they get their percentage whether you tip or not.  That’s right, you don’t tip and I pay tip out from my own pocket.  Essentially, I get the honor of paying for part of your experience.  Not cool by me.

Then finally there are the people who do what table 81 did last Friday.  They come in and order their meal to go, but get drinks and refills and just generally take up my table while they wait for their food.  Besides the fact that they take their food home, everything else is exactly like they are eating in the restaurant like anybody else.  And then they don’t tip.  Now that is pretty much an ideal way to look like a cheap bastard.  Congratulations on achieving a new level of awful and ending up on the Internet.

So please tip your server SOMETHING when you order to go food.  I promise it will make his or her day.  And make you look quite considerate.  Now lets hold hands and sing campfire songs!  


  1. I'd always wondered about that--I usually tip like I do when I go inside the place, usually 15 to 20 percent. For the reasons you specified.

  2. This is the question I get asked the most often. During my radio appearance today it was the question sent in the most. I still don't have a good answer. Of course I believe in tip karma and tip 20%, but I dont expect others to do the same. I generally say a dollar per entree is fair. No one seems to take offense to that outside the industry.

  3. Thank you! A lot of people are under the impression that they have a specific person handling the to-gos, and maybe some places they do, but I know where I work I'm stuck on the phone, wrapping stuff up, etc etc while taking care of my other tables.
    It's really shitty when my tips are going down in my station because I'm caught up doing a to-go that doesn't tip.

  4. So, you're saying that if I call ahead, place my order, walk in after it's ready and pick up my bag of food, I should throw in an extra 10%? Now, I'm not a cheapskate. When I sit down to eat, I tip 20% or more unless the service is absolutely terrible because I do understand the economics of food service and how little wait staff get paid. But do you tip when you get food from the drive-thru at McDonalds (or even from the counter inside)? If you call ahead and pick up a pizza, do you tip the kid at the register who hands it to you? Most of the time, I'm with you 100% when you blog, but I'm just not here. Sure, if I sit at the bar and have a drink or two while I wait for my food, I'll tip on the drink and maybe an appetizer if I scarf one down while I wait. But if I order ahead of time, you spend two minutes putting them in a bag with some napkins and toss in a handful of wetnaps, and I just walk in to pay and pick them up, I'm supposed to drop an extra 10% for the minute it took you to do that? Sorry, but you lost me on this one Sauce. And while you may go the extra mile to make it a special experience for every one of your to-go customers who comes through the door, I have never, ever gotten or witnessed the kind of service you describe when picking up a to-go order or sitting at the bar watching other people pick up theirs.

  5. I agree with Anon and I am a server myself. Getting stuff to-go is exactly like going through a drive-thru at Burger King or picking up a pizza. When I go to these places...the employees just put stuff in a box or bag and just hand it to me. It is their job and they are getting a wage that is much more then the $2.13 that servers typically get (at least in my restaurant). So no, I don't agree with you Sauce. Servers provide an experience while to-go folks merely put your boxed pasta dish in a bag.

  6. I'm sticking to my guns, because what I'm talking about is a SERVER doing to go orders. That's the way it is at my restaurant - we don't have a specific to go employee. Also, if you get your to go from me, it means that I also took the order and got it ready. I think that must make my restaurant different from many.

    I guess the way I see it if we're really going to simplify it, the only thing I'm not doing is checking back and bringing refills (like I said that's very simplified). That's why I suggested a lower tip; there is still work going on. Especially if you're going to hangout before you order your carry out.

    And, like I mentioned, I still pay my tip out on to go orders.

    On a final note...at Hooters 10% is going to amount to just a few dollars. Really, considering that I suppose it's rather trivial either way. For the record I'm never mad when I don't get tipped on a to go. I am however surprised when I do get one.

    Leaving any kind of tip is up to the discretion of the customer. This is just what my discretion tells me to do personally.

  7. If you don't think the person handling your to-go order provides you with an experience, consider the experience you had last time they forgot to put an item you ordered in the bag.

    Let's look at this from an economic standpoint. In every restaurant I have ever worked at, the person handling to go orders made less than minimum wage. In some cases it was a bartender who made more than the server wage, but still was paid well under the federal minimum wage. The reason for this is that the position is classified by the government as a tipped employee. What this means is that restaurants do not have to pay the employee the amount that they would otherwise have to in order to find someone to do the job, This amount would be significantly higher than the minimum wage because even fast food employees are making more than that and you expect a level of service much higher than you do at a fast food restaurant.

    The result of this lower wage is that your food is less expensive. If restaurants were forced to pay the person handling to-go orders a higher wage, that cost would be passed along directly to the customers. This would not just mean you pay for the time it takes to prepare your order, but also the time they spend preparing to receive your order and waiting for you to call. This would make a significant impact on the price of food to-go and result in you paying much more for your meal.

    In effect the person handling your to-go order is paying for part of your meal by accepting a lower wage in hopes of receiving a tip. If you do not tip them, you should at least be appreciative of the two wings in your box that they paid for out of their wage.

  8. not specific to this, but i was under the impression that you tip out a % of your tips - when i was a cook for a different family dinning place (20yrs ago) that is how it worked- not on the orders regardless - that is messed up - i feel better that i have always left my hooters' waitresses much more than the usual 20% to make up for cheap skates...

  9. David, I think you said it better than I did!

    And as far as how tip out works - we tip out based on sales NOT tips. This way there is no cheating the system because while tips are not 100% documented, sales are. Yes, it can suck, but you'll never end up in the red at the end of the night. You just end up with less tips because you paid for a portion of tip out out of pocket.

  10. First off, but I love your blog!
    Except, I'm not sure how much I agree with this post.
    albeit, I have never worked in a 'formal' service industry, but I have worked in coffee shops etc.--one of them Starbucks and only 60% or less think it's appropriate to tip. I don't disagree with this, but the amount of drinks that we're expected to make in less than 60 seconds (so the customers don't get angry)--not to mention the "gimmee's" , "I want's" and " let me have's" (which I'm sure you get).
    Anyways, I just don't think that grabbing a box, putting it in a bag and collecting some money expects AS MUCH as a tip as you should get providing the awesome, saucy service you give in person.
    *heart your blog*



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