Tipping the Owner
October 11, 2004 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Ok, how about tipping when you're being served by the owner of the joint? [MI]

Years ago I had heard that you were not supposed to tip your bartender if they were the owner of the bar, now today I hear that you aren't supposed to tip the server if they are the owner of the restaurant. I can only remember one time recently that I was served by an "owner" and I tipped him. Thinking back, I sure wouldn't have wanted him to think I was a bad tipper. I usually tip just shy of 20% and I imagine I tipped this owner that much as well. I cannot imagine leaving nothing, I'd feel, well, just like a looser...

Are you really not supposed to tip owners? And if so, how do you get over the guilt of not tipping?
posted by pwb503 to Work & Money (14 answers total)
that's a big no-no in my book, never tip the owner
but then, I'm a non-USian
posted by matteo at 11:22 AM on October 11, 2004

For service establishments, no, you don't have to tip the owner, although people often do. Usually, an employee is only getting a percentage of the money you're paying, while the owner gets all of it, eliminating the need to tip. Also, a tip is for appropriate service, and the owner is expected to do his or her best, regardless.

This is general practice at salons and the like (haircuts, nails, etc.). I've never seen it applied to bars and restaurants.
posted by werty at 11:47 AM on October 11, 2004

Never tip owners. Assuage your guilt by knowing that he's not making a below-minimum-wage salary to necessitate it ;)
posted by mkultra at 11:47 AM on October 11, 2004

My favorite sushi joint is mostly operated by the owner (and her mom, the chef), and I always tip very well. It's usually balanced out by the arrival of a lovely selection of sushi and sake I didn't actually order. And I also want to make sure the table bussers don't suffer because the owner happened to carry out the food herself.
posted by judith at 11:58 AM on October 11, 2004

I always wondered, unless they go about wearing a "Hi, I'm the owner of the joint" nametag, how do you know who the owner is?
posted by Karmakaze at 12:33 PM on October 11, 2004

Well, if you're at Antonio's and Antonio is your server, that's a good hint.

This goes back to service establishments vs. restaurants. you often get referred to, say, a barber by someone else: "Visit Joe, he runs his own shop." Then you know what you're in for. I suspect this is much harder to do at a restaurant. Unless, of course, you're eating at Antonio's....
posted by werty at 12:45 PM on October 11, 2004

Offering a tip can't be a bad idea, especially if there are other people getting paid out of a pool of tips. I suppose you should feel free not to tip an owner, but the idea that you *mustn't* tip an owner is silly.

What's the worst that can happen if you tip an owner? If they don't want the tip or find it offensive, they can politely decline it, or pass it on to the busboys / other "menial" employees.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:10 PM on October 11, 2004

Hey matteo, is tipping the owner an insult over there? Just curious, don't know at all.

Here, I'd say I'd tip, especially if I really enjoyed the place and I was looking forward to building a relationship.
posted by mwhybark at 1:11 PM on October 11, 2004

Hmm, this whole "tipping the server because they're poor and underpayed" seems silly to me. I tip to show my appreciation for good service (if given); It doesn't matter if it a serf, the owner or the pope serving me.
posted by fvw at 1:16 PM on October 11, 2004

In england, in the publican tradition, in a pub you will often be served by the owner. Whether you are or not, it's a piece of good manners to offer the bartender a drink. Sometimes he'll literally have one, now or later, or sometimes he'll pocket the approximate amount of a drink (and charge you for the extra).

I do this in sushi places some times. Buy the sushi chefs drinks and they'll bring you a startling array of stuff you didn't order which will most likely not show up on your bill. I learned this for a very drunk korean man that I sat next to at a sushi bar once. He simply told the waitress to give both chefs a drink whenever he ordered one. He'd order, they'd get a drink and tip it towards them, and all kinds of great stuff came his way.
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:29 PM on October 11, 2004

Offer to buy him a drink.

Otherwise, no, no tip.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:43 PM on October 11, 2004

I always wondered, unless they go about wearing a "Hi, I'm the owner of the joint" nametag, how do you know who the owner is?

By what he/she is wearing and how they carry themselves. At most restaurants, the regular servers have some kind of uniform dresscode, but the manager tends to not abide by that dress-code wearing nice clothes and almost always a tie. Also, are they going all over the place, checking on random tables with no rhyme or reason, or concentrating on just a few tables (the job of a manager is to make sure everyone is happy, not just one section. Plus, it always helps when a manager knows the regulars- keeps em' coming back)? Do they merely wait on tables, or go around shooting-the-shit with people? Also, age can be a factor as most servers tend to be of the younger generation, but manager tend to be older.
Plus, for chains at least, the owners need to be recognizable from other servers so that Secret Shoppers can notice them (when getting shopped, one of the requirements is usually that the manager is on the floor while they are there to eat).
posted by jmd82 at 2:42 PM on October 11, 2004

I'd say it depends. If the venue is tiny, and based in a converted storefront, sure. If the place is large enough to merit its own parking lot, and the owner is a regional entrapaneur, I'd tip the waitstaff instead, or follow Civil_Disobedient's suggestion.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:19 PM on October 11, 2004

people i've known with restaurants - immigrants - haven't been automatically wealthy just because they're the owner.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:52 PM on October 11, 2004

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