house tip outs in restaurants
February 12, 2010 9:29 AM   Subscribe

How much do you tip out the house? How about the kitchen? And in total to all support?

I have started working at a new restaurant, its very small, 28 seats. I got out of the industry for awhile, and now I've forgotten what the norm is for tip outs.

At the moment, we have no support staff, but have two servers on the floor, and one of the owners bartends and deals with seating people. To be honest, we don't even need a bartender. Its only wine and beer that we serve, and the very very rare mixed drink.

So, we split the tips 3 ways... the owner/"bartender" gets a full 1/3 of the tips, on top of that we tip the house out 4%, and the kitchen 2% on total sales including taxes. I feel like this is a huge tip out.

Every night the house makes equal or more than the hired staff, which the two owners just split between the two of them in front of us. Not to mention that we tip out the owner a third for pouring our wine 10% of the time, and we tip the other one the 2% kitchen. I have no problem tipping out, but this feels like we are being stiffed a bit. Is 4% to the house normal these days?

The other side of it, is that they are new restaurant owners, and if they are taking advantage of us, I don't think they realize it, yet I wouldn't know how to approach it with tact.

Am I out of place in thinking this is a lot, or have I just been spoiled in the past?

I really enjoy working there, but with the tight space, with a constant line up, and no support, we work extremely hard for our money in a night, and its rare that we walk out with more than $100.
posted by butterball to Work & Money (14 answers total)

According to that thread tipping out the owner is malarky
posted by bitdamaged at 9:33 AM on February 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also be aware from that other thread that tipping out owners isn't just BS its illegal in some states.
posted by bitdamaged at 9:38 AM on February 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

"How much do you tip out the house?"

Unless something huge has changed since I worked in the industry (which was in fact 20 years ago) or unless your workplace is a strip joint, the answer should still be 0%. The house makes its money on the ticket, not out of your pocket. You do not pay the owner for the privilege of working there, period, end of statement.
posted by majick at 9:40 AM on February 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: im in Canada... which might change things a bit.
posted by butterball at 9:40 AM on February 12, 2010

I used to work in the industry. I can remember the following setups (in Canada):

- 1% Kitchen (on Food Sales)/1% Host (on Total Sales)/2% Bar (on Total Sales)

- 4% Host / 4% Busser/ 4% Kitchen / 8% Bartender / 15% Food Runner on Remaining Tips (all on Total Sales)

- 40% Kitchen / No bar or busser

- There are laws in our area (Eastern Canada) which prevent an owner from taking tips. I would investigate that.
posted by Hiker at 10:42 AM on February 12, 2010

Long-time waiter and bartender here (though not in Canada. Yet.).

I would never ever ever ever tip out the owner OR the kitchen. You're getting scammed. I've worked in places that expected servers' tipouts to include a percentage to cover credit card processing fees, and that made me furious, but I can kinda understand it. Depending on the type of service offered, tipshare for bussers can run as high as 33% of your take, but generally that only happens in ritzy joints that do captain's service, and in those places it's been my experience that you go in knowing that the tippool is the whole room. YMMV.

I wouldn't work somewhere the owner is getting tipped out. That's fucked up.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:59 AM on February 12, 2010

I am a waiter in NY. The house should get ZERO. In some states, the kitchen gets tipped out, but not in mine and not in any resturaunt I have ever worked at. The tip out at the place I work is:

Bar 5% (but if it is the owners, I would prob give him nothing)

Busboy 10% (15% on weekends when there are 2 of them)

Runner 10% (15% on weekends when there are 2 of them)

The house should not get anything, ever. I have worked in places where I tipped out as high as 40%, but we were making crazy money. But never to the house..
posted by JakeBarnes at 11:20 AM on February 12, 2010

The only time to tip the house is in a casino (and even then it's really the dealer, not the house, per se).

If your owner is tending bar, he shouldn't get jack. If you feel like you need to tip him out anyway, I'd do 5%, max.

Runners or bussers should be tipped out at least 10%, and if they really helped me out, I always gave em' more.

I don't know from Canada, but in the US, it wasn't customary to tip out the kitchen in any restaurant where I ever worked (although the kitchen in every restaurant where I ever worked always grumbled about this fact, they always grumbled about everything).

Still, while I didn't make it an ordinary practice, if someone in the kitchen helped me out a lot on a busy night (especially if they went out of their way to fix something I fucked up), I'd always try to kick down ten bucks or so. A lot of times, despite gripes about not getting tipped out, the chefs I tried to tip out wouldn't accept cash in hand when I actually tried to give it to em'. In those cases, I'd just buy em' a couple drinks after work.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:28 AM on February 12, 2010

Response by poster: Hiker - those tip outs seem massive... those are the percentages on total sales? or the percentage of your tips? hahah. do you have any idea where i would find out about these laws? I checked the labour board, but found nothing.

Jake Barnes - same question - are you talking percentage of your tips, or percentage on your sales.

Basically what is happening... say we sell 2000 in total in a night, including taxes (we tip pool).

We would give the house $80, the kitchen $40. The leftover would be split 3 ways.

So lets say we average 15% in tips on the gross sales. Thats $300 in total tips minus the $120 weve tipped out leaves us $180 divided between 3 people... thats $60 per person (one of those being the owner).
posted by butterball at 11:34 AM on February 12, 2010

Response by poster: and on another note... everywhere i have worked in this industry I have tipped out the house. But this has usually gone to covering breakage, walk outs, and server mistakes. But I thought it was usually in the 1-2% range.
posted by butterball at 11:43 AM on February 12, 2010

At several restaurants in Montreal, we gave 1% of food sales to the kitchen, then divided 20% of the rest between the bussers and bartenders. The house didn't get a cut. A coffee shop I worked at tried that once, and it did not go over well with the Normes du travail.
posted by OLechat at 12:48 PM on February 12, 2010

Bar 10%
Host 10%
Kitchen 20%

But it's a small place with fast turnover, and with that much support, there are only 2 servers covering the whole place even at peak hours, so they do really well nonetheless.
posted by salvia at 1:23 PM on February 12, 2010

(That was the rule, by the way, not my personal practice. Also, the bar typically didn't get tips of their own; tabs were transferred to tables.)
posted by salvia at 1:24 PM on February 12, 2010


I am referring to a percentage of my tips. I work in a fairly busy NY restaurant. Let's say I make $200 in tips on a Friday night (which is not unusual...also, we do not pool, but if we did, those numbers would be more), would be tipping out $70 and would walk with $130 (assuming the maximum tip out as I outlined above).

Also, you have to understand that everyone involved has to make money - I may only tip out the busboy $30, but he is getting tipped out by 3 other servers.

The house makes it's money off of sales, not from you. I would call bullshit.
posted by JakeBarnes at 2:10 PM on February 24, 2010

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