A How-To Guide to Tipping Your Waiter

Today I’m going to play some Miss Manners. As many of you know, I work as a waitress at a famous little restaurant in my college town. We often get much traffic from locals, tourists going to and from Yellowstone and Bear Lake, and senior citizens.

From speaking with coworkers and from my own experience, I have found that about 40% of tables have no knowledge of how to appropriately tip.

This is probably due to honest ignorance. And honestly, I had no idea how to tip before I started working as a waitress, so I thought I would offer a point of view on the subject and provide some education.

Did you know!

In the U.S. the lowest minimum wage for tipped individuals is literally $2.13 an hour?

In some states, like Alabama, there is no minimum wage (go here to find hourly wages for tipped individuals in your state).

I’m sure that most people don’t consciously realize this while they are tipping.

In general, waiters live off of their tips.

It is considered a common courtesy to thank your waiters for their service, and you can do that by tipping them the appropriate amount.

So you would understand that when I spend forty minutes to an hour with a table, carefully catering to their needs and they leave me a dollar when their ticket was $30.00, I cry a little inside.

With that being said, I in no way understate the importance of my job because of my hourly wage. I enjoy working with people and find it to be very rewarding.

With that being said, how much should you tip?

When it comes to tipping a waiter 15-20% is considered the social norm for service well done.

If your service was less than average 10% is appropriate.

The only time I would leave no tip would be if the service was absolutely terrible, and the waiter made no effort to fix anything.

If you feel like your service was spectacular, feel free to leave more than 20%. I can tell you that when I get left a generous tip it makes my day (sometimes my whole week)! I appreciate that more than anything. It reassures me that I’m doing a good job, and it makes me want to continue to do my best.

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Some things to keep in mind:

  • If you are unhappy about anything: the way your steak was cooked, the location of your table, etc… tell your waiter. I know that many people are afraid of being impolite, but the fact is that your waiter can’t fix somethings unless you make them aware of it. She won’t know that you dislike sitting near a window, or that you don’t like croutons on your salad. Tell your waiter as politely as possible, and allow her the opportunity to fix it. It will make everyone happier in the end.
  • If you are going out to eat before a show/concert arrive at your restaurant anywhere from 2-2 1/2 hours before the show starts. Chances are that there will be a rush an 1-1 1/2 hours before the show. If you arrive before the rush you will receive better service, because your waiter will be able to spend more time specifically addressing all of your needs.
  • If your food is taking a long time to come out, it isn’t always your waiter’s fault. Often times the kitchen can be backed up and there isn’t anything a waiter can do to help that. Sure she can do little things like bring out more rolls, or refill drinks, but the reality is that your food won’t come out until all the plates are finished.
  • If you have any food allergies (i.e. gluten free, nuts, etc…) it is your responsibility to inform the waiter ASAP. That way she can ensure that you will enjoy your service and food.
  • And finally, be nice to your waiters; they work hard! I find that if you want to see someone’s true colors, watch how they treat a waiter.

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