How much to tip?
June 12, 2008 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Do you tip when you get a carry-out meal?

So, when you call a nice restaurant for a carry-out -- one at which, if you sat down at ate your meal, you would tip the server -- do you tip the person who rings you up and gives you your meal? Likewise, do you tip at a counter service restaurant? By counter service, I don't mean fast food like MacDonald's, but something more along the lines of Panera or Cosi?

You see, these restaurants have the tip amount line on the credit card receipt, and I am not sure if I should be writing in a tip? If so, is it the standard 15 -20%?
posted by foxinthesnow to Grab Bag (63 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't. I'm paying the tip to the server for their service... regardless of whether they split the tips with the rest of the staff (cooks, hostess, etc.).

If you think the person at the register went well out of their way and somehow provided you with exceptional service, then tip away! I hardly think it's expected for carry-out sales though.
posted by matty at 7:07 PM on June 12, 2008


I tip carryout (typically 10%) if I've placed a special order, simply for the trouble it takes to accommodate me; but I'm not bashful about complaining if the order isn't right. At Panera, I don't tip if I'm standing in line to order at the counter, and going back up to pick up my own order and bussing my own table on my way out, which is pretty much all SOP at my local Panera.
posted by paulsc at 7:11 PM on June 12, 2008


I don't. In my mind (someone who worked as a waiter at a sit down place) a tip is for doing stuff after I get my food.

I don't know if tips are considered part of the pay for them though. I know that cooks are generally not tip reliant. And I've never heard my friends who work at Panera talk about getting tips.
posted by theichibun at 7:11 PM on June 12, 2008


I do. I just consider it a "what comes around goes around" thing that's not strictly compulsory but is a good thing to do.
posted by loiseau at 7:14 PM on June 12, 2008


Previously
posted by mkultra at 7:15 PM on June 12, 2008


Nope.
And that little tip cup by the register just pisses me off.
I was a waiter many years ago, and know how hard it is; I'm an excellent tipper.
But:
I tip for service I receive, not bags I'm handed.
posted by Dizzy at 7:16 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also previously.
posted by donajo at 7:20 PM on June 12, 2008


No, unless its a really large order and I know they spent a significant amount of time packing it. Time they could have spent waiting tables.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:25 PM on June 12, 2008


Yes. I tip 5-10% if they're wicked fast in making it and I think the food is a great value. They'll remember my name and treat me like a rockstar.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:30 PM on June 12, 2008


The multiple iterations of this question suggest that it's a plant from someone working at a carry-out restaurant, designed to raise awareness.

Nevertheless, I'll bite: I tip when I have placed an order that gets picked up at the bar, or any like place in which (a) someone is doing double duty, and (b) her/his other tasks are often tipped.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:33 PM on June 12, 2008


No. Restaurant tips are payment for personal service, such as taking my order, bringing me drinks and food, and generally being attentive in some manner. Tipping for counter service or carryout generally makes no sense, because the transaction typically involves nothing more than the exchange of food for money. You are essentially giving them extra money because they gave you the food you paid for; it would make about as much sense for them to throw in some extra food to thank you for paying for food you were already obligated to buy. Nice, I suppose, but really unnecessary.

Conversely, I do tip at buffets, because the employees wait on me in the sense that they clean up my dishes quickly (and often refill my drink), and make the experience more pleasant because of it.
posted by gatorae at 7:33 PM on June 12, 2008


I do at places I got to frequently, usually around 10%. I've worked the other side of the counter and I think of it as my way of showing that I appreciate the service they provide.
posted by lekvar at 7:35 PM on June 12, 2008


I do, but I wouldn't think less of you if you didn't. Tipping a waiter is a moral goddamn imperative in my book; tipping the guy who hands you your pizza is just being extra-nice.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:35 PM on June 12, 2008


I do, but only at a couple of my favorite places, and mainly because I know I'm asking them to quickly make something that I know is not on their list of "10 most common orders we have handy."

I certainly don't think it's necessary.
posted by rokusan at 7:39 PM on June 12, 2008


Yes. I tip 5-10%... They'll remember my name and treat me like a rockstar.

Which is another way of saying nobody does this; it's highly unusual.
posted by rokusan at 7:40 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I tip very well for waiters and delivery people, but rarely, if ever, for carryout.
posted by Alabaster at 7:46 PM on June 12, 2008


I typically just drop any coin change they give me when they ring me up into the cup. Sometimes if they're particularly nice, I'll also toss a $1 in there.
posted by lockle at 7:46 PM on June 12, 2008


What I find really odd is the tip blank on the credit card slip, at places that don't even HAVE a tip jar. i tend to tip a dollar plus enough change to round it up to the next dollar.

Just because I feel weird writing "0" when confronted with a tip blank, honestly.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:48 PM on June 12, 2008


If you order take-out from a normally sit-down style restaurant, you should always tip, but not the usual 15 - 20%...more along the lines of 5 - 10%. The person that took the time to put together your to-go order is still only getting paid $2.13 an hour. And if it's a big order, it takes a good amount of time to make sure everything is correct and bagged properly. At places like Panera, the staff is getting a regular hourly wage so it's not necessary to tip.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:49 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just because I feel weird writing "0" when confronted with a tip blank, honestly.

Try crossing a line through it instead.
posted by jeremias at 8:07 PM on June 12, 2008


No. For cultural reasons.
posted by Jimbob at 8:18 PM on June 12, 2008


Try crossing a line through it instead.

Better yet, just leave it blank and make sure the grand total is printed clearly. No one's seriously going to bother pencilling in a million dollars on the tip line since the merchant bank and credit card company go by the total line. If something is pencilled in when the subtotal equals the total, it's obvious fraud anyway.
posted by crapmatic at 8:27 PM on June 12, 2008


Do it at Waffle House. Because the waitress who puts that order together is taking time from her sitdown customers to do it.
posted by konolia at 8:58 PM on June 12, 2008


Waffle House is probably the only place where I usually tip around 35%.
posted by oaf at 9:04 PM on June 12, 2008


I'm a great tipper, but I don't tip for carryout. Especially since in the restaurants from which I get takeout, it's the hostess who takes care of my takeout order, not the waitstaff.
posted by desuetude at 9:05 PM on June 12, 2008


I'm a great tipper, but I don't tip for carryout. Especially since in the restaurants from which I get takeout, it's the hostess who takes care of my takeout order, not the waitstaff.

The hostesses make even less money than the waitstaff does and usually the hostess still only gets paid $2.13 an hour so that doesn't even make any sense.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:10 PM on June 12, 2008


Also, the hostesses make their money from the percentage of server tips via server sales. If the hostess is ringing in and putting together togo orders, that means they spent the time to put together your togo order for nothing. Togo sales are separate from server sales so the hostess doesn't see a percentage of that sale.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:14 PM on June 12, 2008


Yes. I tip 5-10%... They'll remember my name and treat me like a rockstar.

I don't think they're remembering you because you tip, but because you come in frequently.

I have tipped at carryout places and I've never noticed them remembering my name.
posted by jayder at 9:16 PM on June 12, 2008


No, no, no, definitely not. I actually tried to tip one time (I can't for the life of me imagine why) and it was refused. Restoring my faith in not only humanity but in my usual resolve.
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:17 PM on June 12, 2008


Yes. I tip 5-10%... They'll remember my name and treat me like a rockstar.

And just curious, what constitutes rockstar treatment when you're picking up food in bags? I'm trying to imagine rockstar treatment at the takeout places I know, and I just can't picture it.
posted by jayder at 9:18 PM on June 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Try crossing a line through it instead.

That's actually what I do, sorry i was unclear. But the net result is that I am giving nothing, and I feel weird about it when there's a line explicitly asking me to give something.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:20 PM on June 12, 2008


iguanapolitico ---

I posted a comment a while back about the same experience you had -- someone refusing to accept my tip at a takeout place.

I thought that was really classy of them.
posted by jayder at 9:21 PM on June 12, 2008


I do! Which is odd for me, honestly. I tend not to tip at all, well unless he's cute. Or naked. Tonight I got a carry-out meal from a local pasta house, and the waiter was so cracked out, he told me twice in a roll "Thank you, have a good night" That's when I realized I should tip here, cause I love the food so much, and the next time I am there I don't want something in my dish. To be blacklisted from my favorite place. Ugh!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 9:23 PM on June 12, 2008


But the net result is that I am giving nothing, and I feel weird about it when there's a line explicitly asking me to give something.

I agree. I think it's really tacky to put customers in that position when it's take-out. You're basically requiring the customer to write, "No, I don't think your service is worth a gratuity," which is difficult for some people to do.

I am pretty sure merchants can choose whether there is a line on the credit card slip for tips. I have a very good opinion of places where there is NO line for tips when they only do take-out, and a considerably lower opinion of take-out places where these is a line for tips.

As for the ones who don't include a line for tips, I love that they have apparently decided, "We are grateful for your business, and we are not going to shake you down for additional tips with a guilt-trip about tipping."
posted by jayder at 9:27 PM on June 12, 2008


I'll tip 10% to 15% for a carry-out pizza or Chinese food. I tip the standard 20% when I order from my favorite Indian restaurant though.
posted by brain cloud at 10:04 PM on June 12, 2008


If it's a place I frequent, I tip. It helps me be remembered and increases the chance of getting a correct order (or a special request, like a discontinued menu item)

For counter service? Almost never.

A friend of mine who manages a restaurant always tips at anything but fast food. He's cheap, so I once asked him about it and he told me that the people who tip carryout at his store are always remembered by the staff, thus their idiosyncratic preferences are remembered even when the customer forgets to mention it.

I also find that the restaurants I frequent make me wait less now that they know me well, since they have a better idea of how long I'll take to arrive. That lets them prepare my meal at such a time as to maximize freshness while still having it waiting for me when I arrive. (I often have to leave my vehicle standing, so speed is a priority for me and they know it)
posted by wierdo at 10:09 PM on June 12, 2008


Do you see how others tip (via this question)?
posted by Mblue at 10:16 PM on June 12, 2008


I work at a place with counter service, Panera-style, and yeah, no tips. I get paid a decent hourly wage, not waiter wages. The place I work has food runners who bring your order to your table, although you get your own drinks, etc. I guess you could leave a few bucks for them but I don't think it's that common, as they get a normal wage too (afaik).
posted by MadamM at 10:45 PM on June 12, 2008


I don't ever feel bad for crossing through those lines. Oftentimes I leave the tip at the table in cash, and just write "Table" or strikethrough the tip line on the bill. I've received some strange looks when I've struckthrough a tip line at a nice restaurant (total bill going over $100), but we left a 35% tip at the table, so who cares?

And, no, I never tip counter service. Why would I? Sometimes I'll drop the coins I get in change in those cups, but I'll never go out of my way to tip.
posted by Precision at 11:16 PM on June 12, 2008


Which is another way of saying nobody does this; it's highly unusual.

Highly unusual is a stretch. I work at a restaurant and spend one day a week on take-out orders. I make about 35-50% of my total income on those nights (wage + tips) from the tip jar. I certainly don't resent it when someone doesn't tip, but I depend on a certain number of people doing so.

Still, while I often remember people's names and orders whether they tip or not, I feel bad if I think they feel obligated to tip because of this. I hate getting the sense people think I'm fishing for tips, and it's sort of uncomfortable when people leave me over 20% on take-out.

As for the tip lines on receipts: If the restaurant has seated customers as well, it's possible the machines have been setup to pre-authorize every transaction regardless of how sensible that is or whether there's a tip jar. And yeah, if you're worried about people filling in the tip line after you leave, as above: draw a line across that space, write the total below.
posted by antigreg at 12:54 AM on June 13, 2008


I tip carryout at a restaurant that normally does sit down. I tip the full 20% that I would normally tip. Why? Well, I have friends who are servers. My understanding is that the kitchen and the waitstaff spend almost the same amount of time prepping your food as they do for sitdown. I think it's OK to tip a little lower than you normally would for carryout, because yes, they are spending a little less time on you than normally, but personally, I find not tipping at all a little gauche. Then again, my attitude is that a tip is a part of the cost of a meal, not a "reward" for good service.

At restaurants with counter service like Panera and the like, I'll drop in a dollar or two if I'm feeling friendly and paying with cash (less likely, actually, at chain/corporate places like Panera and more likely at mom and pop places), but I usually don't worry too much about it.
posted by fishfucker at 3:52 AM on June 13, 2008


No. And I don't tip coffee-pullers in Starbucks for giving me a cup of coffee either.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 5:43 AM on June 13, 2008


I used to but most places do a pretty awful job of carry out orders. If its clear they did not make my order an equal priority to sit down customers I am not leaving a tip if/when I go back, and I'm not tipping if they take way long either. Take that, the service industry!
posted by shownomercy at 6:30 AM on June 13, 2008


I try to (though I couldn't last night), I think of it as the "'please don't spit in my food next time' tax"
posted by drezdn at 7:06 AM on June 13, 2008


If its clear they did not make my order an equal priority to sit down customers I am not leaving a tip if/when I go back

If most people don't tip on take out orders, then why would they spend equal priority? Why take the time away from the sit down customers who are guaranteed to tip them?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 7:09 AM on June 13, 2008


My best friend in high school worked as a hostess at a Champps restaurant (slightly nicer than applebees, upscale sports-bar kind of place) and was therefore required to put together all the takeout orders. Usually the cooks would put the food out in the plastic take-out trays, but it was up to the hostess to put the lid on, ladle out sauces into those plastic take-out cups, make a salad and dish out a cup of dressing if that was part of the order, and put napkins and silverware into the bag with the food. I know it doesn't sound tough, but it's fussy (especially if you've got more than one dipping sauce or dressing or whatever to go into those annoying little cups) and it takes time. Time that pulls them away from the host stand, which then means they have to deal with annoyed diners who have been waiting when they get back. It was a pretty big hassle.

My friend didn't expect people to know they should tip, because obviously a lot of people think the hostess is just running a cash register and pushing a bag across the counter. But it definitely frustrated her that customers didn't understand or recognize the work and hassle that went into preparing their take-out order. The general consensus was that customers should be tipping the hostess for take-out, even though many didn't seem to know.
posted by vytae at 7:17 AM on June 13, 2008


I tip everywhere. I tip at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru. I figure it's my tax for being lazy, and it makes people happy.
posted by houseofdanie at 7:51 AM on June 13, 2008


At places like the Chinese place by my apartment which does nothing but takeout, I don't tip. I figure if they're only doing takeout and nothing else they should factor what they need into the cost of their food.

If it's a regular restaurant that happens to accept takeout orders I'll tip maybe 10%. Boxing the food up isn't as much work as waiting on a table for the course of an entire meal, but it does take time.
posted by sjl7678 at 8:10 AM on June 13, 2008


I only tip take-out at my local small-town places, not usually chains, and never more than 10%.

Two places I will never tip again:
1) an ice cream store where, when I just dumped in a handful of the pennies that I'd gotten for change into the tip jar, the three workers all began to sing loudly about how I had just tipped. I'm sure someone at corporate thought that was a good idea, but it just made me want to get the hell out of there.

2) when I tipped the hostess at my local chinese place via the tip line on the credit card receipt and she asked me if next time I wouldn't mind tipping her in cash instead because she doesn't see a dime of the tips from credit cards. Crass.

And for those more restaurant-experienced: is it typical that the owner of the restaurant just gets all the credit card totals without keeping track of server tips? Cuz that makes me angry.
posted by GardenGal at 8:49 AM on June 13, 2008


I usually give at least a dollar. I worked as a cashier for take-out orders at a wing restaurant, and I would be shocked if someone gave me some percentage. When I worked as a server, I'd spent nearly an hour on each table so giving a percentage makes sense, plus in Texas you only make $2 something an hour before tips and you rely on them. When I worked as a cashier, I was spending less than five minutes on the order and I was getting $7/hour. To get more than a dollar (or anything at all) for opening the cash register is certainly nice, but it's way more than I could honestly say I deserved.

GardenGal asked: is it typical that the owner of the restaurant just gets all the credit card totals without keeping track of server tips?

Not where I worked. There are some shady places where the workers don't see a cent of the tip jar or credit card tips, but I'm would be surprised if that were typical.

What's weirder, to me, is that I would get the majority of the tip for opening the cash register, while the people who actually prepared the food and bagged it got very little. We had a weird tip redistribution thing going on where they would calculate the tips everyone got and give a bonus to those workers that didn't get tips, but they were doing 95% of the work and I don't think the tip share amounted to anything near enough to make it "fair" in that regard. The nights I was a cashier I took phone orders which was more work than one would think, so I was doing work... just not anything you'd expect someone to tip for.

Not saying people shouldn't tip because of this, though. At other restaurants, the cashier does a lot more work. For example, some nights I was actually bagging the orders on top of everything else, and at some places this is just normal.
posted by Nattie at 9:05 AM on June 13, 2008


If the hostess is ringing in and putting together togo orders, that means they spent the time to put together your togo order for nothing.

They don't put together my order. They hand me a bag that the kitchen staff has brought them and ring me up. If I'm in a place where the hostess assembled my order, I'd likely tip, though.
posted by desuetude at 9:09 AM on June 13, 2008


If you order take-out from a normally sit-down style restaurant, you should always tip, but not the usual 15 - 20%...more along the lines of 5 - 10%. The person that took the time to put together your to-go order is still only getting paid $2.13 an hour.

Whaaat? Where did you work that did that? Every sit-down restaurant that offers take-out that I know of has completely separate staff covering the take-out orders, and they legally cannot pay them server wages. They get a normal hourly wage. If there aren't many take-out orders, they just only have one or two people attending to them. They should not be making servers attend to them.
posted by Nattie at 9:12 AM on June 13, 2008


If the hostess is ringing in and putting together togo orders, that means they spent the time to put together your togo order for nothing.

They don't put together my order. They hand me a bag that the kitchen staff has brought them and ring me up. If I'm in a place where the hostess assembled my order, I'd likely tip, though.


The thing is, in plenty of restaurants the host/ess did put together your order. And it's kind of hard to tell which places those are. Do you ask them as you're paying whether they had to assemble and bag your meal? It seems much easier (and less gauche) to just add a couple bucks onto the total.
posted by vytae at 9:31 AM on June 13, 2008


The thing is, in plenty of restaurants the host/ess did put together your order. And it's kind of hard to tell which places those are.

It's not hard. I can see. Hostess stays at stand. Kitchen dude comes up and hands her a bag which is completely put together and tied off. Hostess hands bag to me and takes my money. I don't tip the hostess for showing me to my table when I dine-in, either.
posted by desuetude at 10:10 AM on June 13, 2008


I posted a comment a while back about the same experience you had -- someone refusing to accept my tip at a takeout place.

I thought that was really classy of them.


Yeah! I think in my case I paid cash and was telling them to keep the change, and they refused. This same place does have a "tip" line on their receipts, and I never fill that in when I use credit, either.

They're bagging food. All of this is done at the grocery store, and I don't tip them, do I? The deli people wrap food or put it into containers, and the baggers put it in bags for me. There are no tip jars at the checkout counters at Jewel.

When I tip, I'm tipping for service. Table service. Serving food at the table. Filling my water. Or delivering food to my house, etc. But tipping when I drive to the store to pick up my food, using gas I paid for, finding parking, or when I spend my time and energy to walk over, etc., is a ridiculous notion.
posted by iguanapolitico at 11:54 AM on June 13, 2008


I tip because I like giving people money. It makes me feel slightly more generous than I would otherwise feel, and I like that. I also understand that I operate from a position of relative privilege which I did not earn, so I don't feel like I should operate as sort of even-handed distributer of money based on deservedness. If fair was fair, I doubt everyone who waits on me would still be waiting on me, and not the other way around.

I also tip (including the folks at Starbucks), because we all live in the same neighborhood, meaning that I know how much they're paying in rent, and I want to make their lives easier. The economy isn't great, and we all should help each other to the best of our ability to do so.

It's not too hard to carry a bunch of ones in your pocket and stick one in the jar. It'll make you feel better. Go for it.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:26 PM on June 13, 2008


Yes. I always feel guilty if I don't.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 12:41 PM on June 13, 2008


Should hot dog vendors be tipped? How much?
posted by drezdn at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2008


Zero. Unless I have a little change, then I drop a few coins in the tip jar. IMHO tips are only required when you sit down and are served.
posted by exhilaration at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2008


I try to tip everywhere I go, because quite frankly, I know too many people who are barely making it in food service jobs. Those people generally don't have health insurance and are on their feet all day.

Any job where I know I would be physically exhausted and mentally beat down from doing it, if it's possible, I tip. This includes giving bag boys at the grocery store a dollar or two if they help me with my bags.

I've done some crappy jobs and whenever people were extra nice to me with a tip, I remembered it. I want to be that person someone else remembers for being extra nice.

That being said, fast food I don't bother. Everywhere else, yes, I'll even tip the full 15 percent if I know the restaurant staff shares their tips with all employees.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:37 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whaaat? Where did you work that did that? Every sit-down restaurant that offers take-out that I know of has completely separate staff covering the take-out orders, and they legally cannot pay them server wages.

Most sit down restaurants do not have a separate staff just for to go orders. It's either one of the front of the house staff (waitress, hostess, bartender) or the expo person.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:45 PM on June 13, 2008


The bigger loss to the restaurant and servers is probably in the fact that the take-out orders are food-only. Drinks are where the money is.
posted by smackfu at 7:43 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, of course not.
No waitress or busboy is involved in a take-out transaction.

Which begs the question:
Why do restaurant workers give take-out orders the same priority as sit-down orders?
posted by Rash at 9:13 AM on June 14, 2008


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