Tips for Tipping: What to Know Before Paying the Server

BY DiningOut Staff

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We’ve all been at a dinner where we split the bill and sneak a glance at our friends to see what they’re tipping. Though tipping is a standard aspect of American dining, it is up to the consumer to determine – which can lead to some awkward moments!

Tipping has been a standard practice in America for centuries, with dubious origins. Tipping was originally utilized to subsidize wages after the Civil War so that employers hiring newly freed slaves didn’t have to adequately pay them. (Source)

What are you tipping?

Since then, tipping has been written into employment law and shaped the landscape of service industry jobs. Employees who are classified as tipped workers have a different minimum wage than non-tipped positions. In Colorado, that minimum wage is $10.63 per hour – a whopping $8.50 above the federal minimum wage for tipped employees which is $2.13. However, it’s still notably lower than the $13.65 for non-tipped workers in Colorado. (Source)

While tipping is a pretty critical part of the payment for most service industry workers, there can be a lack of consensus on how much to tip and what it should be based on. We polled our community to get an idea of how they approach tipping during their dining experiences. 

DiningOut Followers Suggestions

Exclude The Tax

The general consensus was that many prefer to tip an average of 20-25% on the bill. Although, it was frequently noted that they made sure to exclude tax when calculating the final tip. 

“I do a percent (20-30) of the subtotal. No reason to tip based on tax and all the added fees.” – Michael Clayton

From a Server Perspective

But for some, that range can shift based on the experience that day – or their prior experience being on the other side of the interaction.

Many who have experience in the industry shared that they do what they can to tip generously, even if the service isn’t always above and beyond.

“I worked as a server for quite a while and after seeing how difficult it is especially when dealing with rude customers and more, I always tip half of the bill.” – Alex Wynn

“If it’s great service, I’ll do 40%. Bad service, still at least 20%. I work in the restaurant biz so I know what the servers have to deal with.” – Kenny Holton

Merit-Based

However, others who have also worked in the industry feel it should be merit-based and reflect the service itself, not just the totality of the bill. 

“I still go by food quality and service. It’s not my responsibility to pay the wages of someone who just expects tips. I fed 3 kids from tips because I was a good waitress.” – Kris Jardine

“I take the subtotal (not tipping on tax), subtract the bottomless drink total, and then tip 15-20% depending on service. If I order a to-go meal I also subtract that from the total. I tip on service, that’s it. And before anyone gets their panties in a twist, yes I have worked in the industry.” – Tracy Steube


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DiningOut Staff

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