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Take-Out Tipping
January 16, 2006 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Is it mandatory to tip for takeout and, if so, how much?

I typically tip 20 percent, however, I eat out a lot and wonder if this is too much.
posted by orangeshoe to Food & Drink (43 answers total)
 
I don't tip, if I go to the restaurant to pick-up my takeout. If I have it delivered, like orangeshoe, I tip 20%.
posted by ericb at 2:05 PM on January 16, 2006


I tip generously when I am waited on.

However, I believe that a tip is earned by actually performing a service, and so I do not tip for takeout. I've driven to pick up the food - all this person has done is bag it up and ring up my bill. I don't believe this justifies a tip.

I do, however, tip for delivery, which is entirely different.
posted by twiggy at 2:06 PM on January 16, 2006


Assuming we have the same definition of take-out (i.e. you go to a restaurant, pick up your food, and eat it at home), I would never tip, any more than I would tip at a fast-food restaurant or other restaurant without table service. If I'm not being served, I see no reason to provide a gratuity.
posted by gwenzel at 2:08 PM on January 16, 2006


I also do not tip for take-out, assuming gwenzel's definition.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:10 PM on January 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


No, don't tip for takeout. Full-service waitstaff are taxed (that is, income tax) by the IRS based on a percentage of their sales, so besides being just plain mean, stiffing them actually takes money out of their pocket.

On the other hand, takeout service does not incur this kind of taxation (just sales tax and the restaurant's corporate income tax, which are already accounted for in the price of the food), so tipping is not required.
posted by frogan at 2:10 PM on January 16, 2006


Please don't. This has to stop. I had this discussion with friends the other day. Tipping on takeout is madness. This tipping-for-everything has to stop and we must start today.
posted by xmutex at 2:10 PM on January 16, 2006


Just to clarify, I did mean actual take-out -- not delivery -- where you order your food and then pick it up yourself. Your answers are what I suspected them to be; I am guilty of over-tipping, because I am afraid of not tipping where I generally should and thus appearing cheap. That the majority of you answered in the negative makes me more confident in not tipping the next time I take out food.
posted by orangeshoe at 2:15 PM on January 16, 2006


Previously here, and a hundred other AskMe questions about tipping.
posted by youarenothere at 2:17 PM on January 16, 2006


As a former bartender who prepared the occasional food takeout orders, it actually involved a good deal of work. Bartenders there actually take the order, either over the phone or from walkins. The sandwiches and entrees would come from the kitchen boxed up in their styrofoam trays. I then had to prepare portion cups with condiments (pickles, fancy mustard, sauces), soups, and drinks to go. Bag everything up and gather plasticware and napkins. Then, ring up the customer when they arrived and give them change. It actually involved MORE work than a customer who sits at your bar for ninety minutes. Mind you, this was a neighborhood pub, and not really set up for takeout, but we served a full menu of good food and people wanted it to go. I definitely appreciated the tip when it was given. Regulars at the bar would see us go through this procedure and usually tip appropriately. Phone customers practically never.

Myself, I tip 15% if it's a sit-down restaurant and the majority of workers there work off of tips. If it's a true take-out joint with a counter, I'll drop a buck and change in the tip jar.
posted by Roger Dodger at 2:17 PM on January 16, 2006


Takeout: never.
Delivery: generally.
Good table service:15%-20%+
Bad table service:0%-15%
posted by JamesMessick at 2:20 PM on January 16, 2006


So, Roger Dodger, would a good compromise be, perhaps tip something -- say, five to ten percent -- if you generally tip on take-out, but not an entire twenty percent?
posted by orangeshoe at 2:21 PM on January 16, 2006


To those of you who tip for delivery, do you also tip if there is an additional delivery charge added to the cost of your meal?
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 2:25 PM on January 16, 2006


No tip unless I'm waited on or delivered my food.
posted by knave at 2:27 PM on January 16, 2006


What about curbside pickup? Now tipping on THAT I can't seem to figure out.
posted by hodyoaten at 2:28 PM on January 16, 2006


The only time I tip for take-out, is when I get take-out from a restaurant that doesn't actually serve take-out. In that case, I usually give somewhere in the 10% neighborhood as thanks for providing the service.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:28 PM on January 16, 2006


Tipping is out of control. Now every sub shop has a tip jar, and I even see them at PARKING lots!
posted by eas98 at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2006


To those of you who tip for delivery, do you also tip if there is an additional delivery charge added to the cost of your meal?

Yes, because I work on the cynical assumption that the restaurant is probably screwing the delivery guy. If they aren't, then good for him, he made double.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2006


To those of you who tip for delivery, do you also tip if there is an additional delivery charge added to the cost of your meal?

Yes, I know a few delivery people, and the delivery charge does NOT go to them. I always tip 15% for delivery, more if the weather is shitty or it was a long drive (and if it's a super busy delivery day like Superbowl Sunday).
posted by catfood at 2:36 PM on January 16, 2006


If it's a takeout place, I'll often tip the silver. If it's a regular restaurant (a situation such as Roger Dodger describes), I'll at least tip a buck.
posted by adamrice at 2:50 PM on January 16, 2006


I have a simple rule about this, and tipping in general: if I order from a place often enough to become a "regular", I tip generously. I used to work in foodservice, and trust me, the takeout guys will remember you fondly (and treat you and your orders accordingly) if you tip.

That said, 20% is probably way too much for takeout. A dollar every time is enough, unless you're ordering a fortune's worth of food.
posted by vorfeed at 2:50 PM on January 16, 2006


It's never mandatory to tip.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:52 PM on January 16, 2006


Orangeshoe, I think that tipping is NEVER mandatory but USUALLY a good idea. If an establishment's main business is takeout, then the processes of that establishment will be set up to make preparing takeout orders as effortless as possible. If takeout is an afterthought for an establishment, then somebody is running around doing alot of extra legwork to prepare your order, especially if you are picky and have lots of special requests. If you do tip, find out who prepared the order and make sure they are the ones who get it, otherwise your gesture is worthless.

Tipping $2.00 on a $13.00 order may seem like server entitlement to some, or the right thing to do to others. I guarantee, though, that getting nothing for extra effort on the part of the server will make them remember you, and you won't see anything but the bare minimum from them the next time you call in an order. Sad, but true.
posted by Roger Dodger at 3:00 PM on January 16, 2006


I don't tip on takeout either.

I'm all for tipping waiters, and for delivery, since the structure of their jobs is such that they depend on it, but I also realize the structure of their jobs is crap, and I don't want it to spread.
posted by furiousthought at 3:02 PM on January 16, 2006


I tip around 10% for delivery(There's usually a delivery charge included in the bill already), making exceptions for slowness, errors, etc.

I wouldn't tip for pick-up, and I never accepted them when I worked in a restaurant. It takes all of half a minute to get it bagged and condimentized, and most of the time the person working the till isn't the one who got the order together, so why bother?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:07 PM on January 16, 2006


The usual restaurants that I order carry out from have a dedicated carry out window and carry out girls, who I am sure are earning more than the waitress wage of $2.15/hour. I tip generously to waitresses who otherwise make just $2.15, but if you're being paid $7.00+ to sit in a box and put food in boxes and distribute said boxes, then sorry. I've thrown a dollar in if it appears that it's been an otherwise miserable night, but sorry, this is what you're paid for.

It's completely ridiculous to see a tip jar at the local Cold Stone or even Starbucks. Your corporate parent pays you to prepare my food for me. I'm not about to reward you further on top of the exhorbitant price for my coffee just because you are able to make a simple drink.

Things like tending bar, where some flare, conversation and a pleasant experience, along with taking up a seat for a longer period of time are a natural exception. But I will not tip you because you can mix things into my ice cream and make it look hard. This is why they are *PAID* by their employers. Relying on tips as an ice cream perparer is a bad idea. It does, however, provide a nice way to express to the cute girl behind the counter that you think she's cute.
posted by disillusioned at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2006


Where I live, wait people only make about 2.75 an hour, plus their tips. So if you pick up a meal that has been prepared by a wait person and don't tip, then you're getting 5.50/hour labor for half price. For this reason, I always tip a buck or two on takeout.
posted by Clay201 at 3:18 PM on January 16, 2006


I don't tip if I pick up. I wish these damn restaurants would start actually paying their servers like they do in Europe. Didn't tipping grow out of the fact that the owners couldn't control the practice of waiters giving food and drink away in the search of a gratiuity so they just stopped paying them altogether? Now we as customers have to subsidize the waitstaff AND get nothing for free thanks to computerized billing. I'd love to show up to a restaurant one day with my own personal waiter (who already knows how I like my food cooked) and see what they say. If I'm paying for the service I should be allowed to choose who serves me right?

I'm old enough to remember how bartenders used to give buybacks in order to earn their tips. Anyone remember buybacks? It worked out great for everyone. I got a free drink, the bartender got a bigger tip and the owner got a happy and regular customer.
posted by any major dude at 3:35 PM on January 16, 2006


I loved buybacks, and you're right you don't see them anymore.

I tip, even when I pick up, because I know that's how these people get payed. It's a crummy system, but it's not the servers' fault.
posted by xammerboy at 3:50 PM on January 16, 2006


I occasionally tip on takeout, depending on the quality of the service when I pick up the food.

Not long after my wife and I moved to our current neighborhood, we ordered some food from a small, family-run Chinese takeout place near our house. When we picked up the food, I wrote in a small tip on the credit card slip. The employee behind the counter said, "Sir, we do not accept tips," and scratched it out.

(Imagine our shock.)

Contrast that restaurant with a Quizno's Subs, also near our house, where there's a tip jar that says "God Loves Tippers." Nothing like the promise of eternal reward to get the tips rolling in!
posted by jayder at 4:01 PM on January 16, 2006


I tip, even when I pick up, because I know that's how these people get payed. It's a crummy system, but it's not the servers' fault.

With rare exception, your takeout/pickup is not being handled by a server. It's being handled by the cooks (paid and never receive gratuity, even if you put it in a jar), and the cashier.

These jobs are salaried and are not based at all on gratuity.

I'm not cheap or unappreciative. I almost always tip 20%+, and I make sure to smile and say thank you to the person who bags my groceries, as it's a thankless, mindless job and they're basically doing my "bitch work" for me.

Despite this generosity, I think tipping for takeout is absurd. There's no special service involved here, and you are not being "served" anything. The employees who handle your order in almost all cases are on a specific wage not aligned with that of an actual "server" / "waiter/watress".
posted by twiggy at 4:04 PM on January 16, 2006


With rare exception, your takeout/pickup is not being handled by a server.

At the resteraunts where I get my meals, a wait person usually takes the order on the phone and transmits the order to the cook. Then, when it's ready, s/he checks everything to make sure it's as it should be, gets the order into the bag/box before it's cold, adds packages of mustard or napkins or whatever, and possibly rings it up as well.

At Waffle House, all to-go orders have a ten percent gratuity added "for the servers who prepare them."
posted by Clay201 at 4:13 PM on January 16, 2006


Hmmm. Ok, this just brought to mind another question. I frequently get takeout at restaurants that offer carside delivery (like Friday's and Applebee's). Do they get the same tip as someone who would have waited on me in the restaurant, or had the food been delivered to my house?

And am I supposed to tip at Starbuck's if I go through the drive-thru - or even if I go in, for that matter?
posted by damnjezebel at 4:16 PM on January 16, 2006


Alvy Ampersand, tipping 10% may be why your food is late a lot. ;-)

When a restaurant charges a delivery charge, that money NEVER goes to the person actually doing the delivery. It goes to the restaurant. You should tip a delivery person the same as you would tip a waiter in a restaurant. 15-20%. Think about it, the delivery person is doing as much as a waiter. They are traveling, often in their own car, often in inclement weather, to bring you food. At some restaurants they even have to bus their own orders.

Tipping for takeout isn't needed, but if they have a tip jar or something, you can toss in your change or a buck or something.
posted by katyggls at 4:26 PM on January 16, 2006


If I'm going to a sit down restaurant that happens to have a take out service on the side, (such as a local BBQ joint) where the bartender has to pack up all the food and condiments, then I do tip somewhere around 10% or so. But I don't tip in the Chinese take out place or sandwich shops that I frequent.
posted by gyc at 4:47 PM on January 16, 2006


I loved buybacks, and you're right you don't see them anymore.

I don't know what "buybacks" are, but I definitely get my share of freebies from bartenders. I also get your share, and about half of MetaFilter's share. Tip and you shall receive.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:07 PM on January 16, 2006


And am I supposed to tip at Starbuck's if I go through the drive-thru - or even if I go in, for that matter?

Starbucks tip jars are always pretty anemic for a reason, and it's not because they're emptied regularly.

The only time I tip at starbucks is if I don't feel like having change in my pocket, or if the person I'm with orders a short dry half-caf soy mocha ristretto latte.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:16 PM on January 16, 2006


short dry half-caf soy mocha ristretto latte

upon further consideration, I want to kill myself for being able to write that phrase.
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:18 PM on January 16, 2006


What about curbside pickup? Now tipping on THAT I can't seem to figure out.

I've decided personally that carside pickup = 10% tip. Table Service? 20% (rounded) on pre-tax. (i.e. Today's lunch was ~$26+, I tipped $5) For carside I do the same, but with 10%. They are walking outside twice to bring me my food, and bring me my change/charge slip.
posted by stew560 at 5:47 PM on January 16, 2006


Ditto to vorfeed: tipping more than average/expected at a place you visit regularly pays off.
posted by winston at 6:22 PM on January 16, 2006


It's completely ridiculous to see a tip jar at the local Cold Stone or even Starbucks.

Agreed. You shouldn't feel compelled to tip at Starbucks—they don't depend on tips for part of their wage (i.e., they get paid minimum wage).
posted by oaf at 6:32 PM on January 16, 2006


Clearly most of the people who have replied to this question don't work in restaurants. (I don't either, but many of my friends do, or have.)

At many/most restaurants, the host or a server answers the phone and takes the order. When it's ready, he/she has to bag up the order. When you arrive, he/she has to take your money and give you your change.

None of this sounds particularly onerous, but if the place is busy it's a significant distraction, and a significant bit of work for someone who's already working hard.

Furthermore, if it's the host, he/she is probably making much less than a waiter, as he/she only receives a small percentage of each waiter's tips at the end of the night.

So, yes, tip.
posted by littleme at 7:57 PM on January 16, 2006


Nope, sorry. I tip for service, I tip for delivery, I'm not about to tip for takeout. Some people want you to tip for every damn thing.
posted by languagehat at 6:13 AM on January 17, 2006


This is an old thread, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway.

I ALWAYS tip for takeout, at table-service restaurants (not counter-service places). Why? Because during the two months that I waited tables, the servers always got screwed by phone-in orders. The server took the order over the phone, packaged the food, put the condiments in the bag, etc. It was the same amount of work as waiting on a regular table. The amount of the bill was rung up just like a regular sale on our nightly report, which meant that we were taxed on 10% of the bill, even though we almost never received a tip.

Best that I can tell, at the restaurants that I get take-out from, it's handled in a similar way. Either the bartender or a server brings out my food, so I tip. Packaging up your food is a service, and it deserves a gratuity.
posted by donajo at 6:42 AM on October 12, 2006


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