Do I tip the waitstaff at a fundraising dinner?
June 7, 2013 2:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to a tasting dinner tonight for local food charity; tickets for it are purchased ahead of time. I've been to one before, and it was great, but just realized I didn't tip the staff at the last one. The last time, it was on a farm in a tent, but this one is in a restaurant. I'm thinking that tonight it will be the regular restaurant staff, not a catering staff, waiting on tables. Does it matter? Should you tip no matter who is waiting? If you do tip, is it based on the ticket price?
posted by katinka-katinka to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
You might want to check with one of the organizers to see if the tip is included in the price they are paying for the event. That's always been the case when the organization I was with held an event that included a meal.

If not, and you feel led to tip, I would suggest tipping based on what the meal would have cost, not the cost of the ticket.
posted by HuronBob at 4:13 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

A percentage (typically between 10 and 20%) for "large parties" has almost definitely been included as a specific line item in the charity's catering bill. When there is no bill handed to you, there is no expectation that you tip at the time, and indeed I can only imagine it would be both weird and awkward for you to do so.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:27 AM on June 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

No. The organization bought out the restaurant and part of that fee is gratuity. And if it was catering staff, they would be tipped out by the organization at the end of the night (or it would have been included in the catering fees).

If there is an open bar, you can tip the bar staff, but their gratuity has also been taken care of for the evening.

It's part of the restaurant or catering contracts, but the organization would prefer you use the money you would have used to tip to make a donation instead.
posted by spec80 at 4:30 AM on June 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have worked as an event manager. You should not need to tip at an event like this unless you arrive early and order a drink at the bar or need to leave items at the coat check.
posted by bcwinters at 4:31 AM on June 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

We had our wedding at a restaurant and the tips were included in the catering menu price.

Sometimes there will be a cup on the bar, and I'll throw a buck or two in there, but no, you don't need to tip.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:38 AM on June 7, 2013

Organized these kind of events for years, and found the same thing where tips at tables don't happen. Might be the bar tip jar at the bar. At an event, chances are the waitstaff is being paid a proper wage instead of the $2.13/hour or whatever it is now.
posted by jmd82 at 7:37 AM on June 7, 2013

In a lot of cases, employees of catering companies are strictly forbidden from accepting tips (except sometimes bartenders) so if a server waves off your generous offer, don't push it. Also, the event organizer often has the option to add an additional gratuity at the end of the the event, and they frequently do, if the service was great.
posted by Wroughtirony at 7:47 AM on June 7, 2013

Response by poster: I think the staff tonight is the regular cafe staff. It is a sit down dinner, but normally this is like a coffee house/bakery. Very small.

Anyhow, I emailed the organizers and they assured me it was all inclusive, so now I just have to eat and drink and be happy.
posted by katinka-katinka at 7:51 AM on June 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

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