Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Help Wanted UPDATE: No More He... | Found on First Hill »

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Eternal Question

posted by on April 22 at 13:35 PM

Is one supposed to tip for take out? I’m not talking about take out food that’s delivered to your door, which obviously calls for a tip to a the delivery person. I’m talking about going to a restaurant that has table service and, instead of sitting at a table, picking up an order that you’ve called in or placed in person.

Maybe I’m awful for even asking, but this situation—picking up food in a box, being presented with an opportunity to tip, and not being sure whether or how much to tip—has been bugging me for years.

I will abide by the ruling of the Sloggy masses. Thank you.

RSS icon Comments



Posted by Mr. Poe | April 22, 2008 1:38 PM

I always wondered about this too. It never bothered me enough to make me tip though.

Posted by Justin | April 22, 2008 1:40 PM


Posted by sean | April 22, 2008 1:40 PM

You tip for service. So unless you felt like the person who handed you your bag of chinese food did something special for you, I say no you don't tip.

This is not to say that there are not exceptions to this, i.e. someone does you a favor, discounts your bill, or throws in something extra.

Posted by Elaine | April 22, 2008 1:41 PM


Posted by Nat | April 22, 2008 1:41 PM

Tipping is for service, right? You tip a waiter for taking care of you during a meal. You tip a delivery guy for bringing the food to your house.

I don't tip at a fast food restaurant and the guy at the counter does essentially the same job -- turning around, grabbing your food and handing it to you.

Posted by Dr. Pants | April 22, 2008 1:41 PM

NO!!! (But I do anyway...)

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | April 22, 2008 1:42 PM

Certainly not.

I tip if my food is physically served to me or physically delivered to me. If I'm handling the service and delivery aspects myself (as with take-out), there's no need for me to tip.

Posted by Hernandez | April 22, 2008 1:43 PM

Tipping may be for service, but those guys & gals in the kitchen who prepped and cooked your meal are part of "service" whether you eat in the restaurant or elsewhere. It's not just about tipping the waiter who takes your order. So, I do tip for takeout, but usually about half of what I'd tip for table service.

Posted by Trey | April 22, 2008 1:44 PM

It's ambiguous. If there's a tip jar especially and if the staff is pleasant and the goods are good, then by all means yes. But don't feel guilty if you don't. Maybe you're in a hurry and don't feel like calculating a tip to a debit card or fumbling for a buck - that's OK. But stay on the side of being generous.

Posted by raindrop | April 22, 2008 1:44 PM

If they get it to me faster than anticipated, and if they treat me well while I wait, I tip.

One Chinese restaurant owner always give me something from the buffet while I wait. Otherwise, no.

Posted by Clearlyhere | April 22, 2008 1:46 PM

I don't, and I'm usually a pretty heavy tipper when there's real service involved.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 22, 2008 1:46 PM

No, you also should not tip the dry cleaners either or a coffee shop if they are not actually making an espresso drink for you (pulling a damn donut from the pastry case is not tipable)

Posted by Andrew | April 22, 2008 1:47 PM


Posted by David | April 22, 2008 1:47 PM

i usually will tip 20 percent for sit down service, so i do 10 percent for take out service. it's usually not that much money, but it can add up for the person who is going in back, boxing up your stuff, making sure it's right, and ringing you up.

Posted by konstantconsumer | April 22, 2008 1:47 PM

If you're in there all the time picking up food... yes, two or three bucks.

Posted by Jason | April 22, 2008 1:48 PM

This has always bothered me too, particularly if I take out sushi and the chef is staring me right in the face when I pick it up. I usually tip, but I'm never sure how much.

Posted by kid icarus | April 22, 2008 1:48 PM

I tip 20% standard. For everyone that prepares something that goes in my stomach. The food industry is not a fun place to work in, I appreciate that and understand that tip money is how most food workers survive.

Posted by Liz | April 22, 2008 1:48 PM

Yes, if it is from a place that gives table service.

People who haven't served food don't know this but, especially on a busy night, it is a huge pain in the ass to put in an order, take it from the kitchen, wrap it up with utensils and accept payment from the take-out customer when you have tables waiting. I always make sure to tip at least 5% on a take-out order.

Posted by BTB | April 22, 2008 1:49 PM

I've always wondered about this too. I tend to think you don't tip, but sometimes I feel really guilty and give them a buck or two.

Posted by D | April 22, 2008 1:50 PM

Yes, but never more than a dollar or two

Posted by Andrew | April 22, 2008 1:50 PM

I do, but I always see it as tipping the cooks- however, the practice of giving them a cut seems to vary from restaurant to restaurant, so all bets are off.

(Then of course, there are always the greedy restaurants who keep the tips for themselves...)

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | April 22, 2008 1:50 PM

Yes, but since its not table service I think this falls more into leaving a buck or two in the jar rather than 15%-20%.

Posted by jason | April 22, 2008 1:52 PM

It depends. When I go to a restaurant and bring my own container for take out (because I can't deal with styrofoam waste) then yes, I tip because, hey, I'm crazy and I appreciate them taking care of me.

Otherwise, I sometimes toss on a buck, especially if its a place I frequent, but usually not.

Posted by arduous | April 22, 2008 1:52 PM

A host prepares your to-go box, figures out who you are, gives you your food and rings you up. Leave a buck or two!

Posted by elbloopo | April 22, 2008 1:52 PM

There is no answer to your question. Tipping makes no sense.

You have to tip everyone all the time, except when you don't. If they're trendy or if you're in a fancy restaurant, you have to tip more even though the server has great earning potential. If the server is old and kinda rough looking or if you're in a cheap chain restaurant you tip less, even though the server needs it more. There are no negative consequences to you for not tipping, but you do it because you feel like you have to. The entire US restaurant industry runs on the honor system, yet people still don't think to turn off their cellphones. It makes no sense.

In the UK, the price on the menu, the price on your check and the amount you leave on the table are all the same. What a concept.

Posted by blank12357 | April 22, 2008 1:52 PM

Aren't tips shared amongst all the food service crew? If there's no waiter, why screw over the cooks?

Posted by El Seven | April 22, 2008 1:52 PM

I tip, but less.

Posted by 'former' chickified church boy | April 22, 2008 1:56 PM

I don't think the tips are shared amongst the crew-- hence the constant undercurrent of front-of-the-house versus back-of-the-house animosity. It's up to the counter and waitstaff if they want to share the love with the cooks and preppers and dishwashers.

Posted by cml | April 22, 2008 1:57 PM

Miss Manners says that it's not obligatory to tip for take out (I swear I read an article on this exact subject, but I can't find it at the moment).

So I say no, but I usually throw my change or a dollar into their tip jar anyway.

Posted by SDizzle | April 22, 2008 1:58 PM

Tip whenever you have the chance to be treated better than the people who don't tip.

Posted by elenchos | April 22, 2008 1:59 PM

I usually tip by rounding up to the nearest dollar and then adding a buck in these sorts of situations. You won't notice it and you might even feel better about your own means when you do it. Be generous and universe will be generous with you.

Posted by NaFun | April 22, 2008 1:59 PM

At a restaurant, where somebody(usually the host/ess who may not get tipped out) puts it together for you in half the time a waiter normally takes to get you your food, and you don't tip?

Don't make it a habit, you might get what you pay for.

Posted by Host | April 22, 2008 2:00 PM

No. My rule is no waitress, no tip. Cooks, dishwashers, etc have traditionally relied on an hourly wage, and adding tipping only encourages restaurant owners to make that hourly wage lower. Nobody really wins. Plus one of the main reasons I choose takeout is because it's cheaper then having a sit-down meal.

However, I do think Baristas are an exception to this rule.

Posted by Ashley | April 22, 2008 2:01 PM

no. i wouldnt tip in general but since i frequent the same 10 places i kind of have to.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 22, 2008 2:01 PM


Posted by Tiktok | April 22, 2008 2:01 PM

I don't work in the food service industry myself, but I'd been told by some surly servers that (in addition to comment #27 about the unspecified trickle-down effect of tips to the extra staff), waitstaff income is taxed according to a standard "expected" tip percentage - ergo, if you don't tip on take-out orders, they end up paying more taxes on the rest.

Can anyone out there confirm this, or am I just gullible?

Either way, I usually end up doing ~10% instead of 20 for take-out orders...

Posted by Damien | April 22, 2008 2:03 PM

Surprising number of people on this thread have apparently never worked service. HELL YES you tip for takeout, 15% at the absolute minimum.

Posted by levide | April 22, 2008 2:04 PM


But, if it's a local restaurant and they go above and beyond, it's nice (but NOT required) to tip.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 22, 2008 2:04 PM

You have the official ok to not tip and not feel bad about it:

For me, it's a case by case issue. Who knows what the counter help had to do before you got there, but if it's just a handing over of a bag, then generally no tip. If the counter help is bending over backward and smiling the whole time, a tip is appropriate, but still not mandatory. With dessert orders, I've seen the help do all kinds of extras - adding whip cream - removing nuts or cherries (I'm being serious!).

In my scrounging days, ordering take out was specifically intended to avoid the tip charge, so I could afford a decent meal now and then. And those days are never too far out of the picture. When I have extra, I tip a buck per entree.

Posted by nightlifejitters | April 22, 2008 2:05 PM

I don't tip for take out. I tip on espresso but not on drip. I almost always tip 20%.

Posted by elswinger | April 22, 2008 2:06 PM

I usually tip a dollar or two, or as others have noted if it's a place I go regularly and they always give me good service, a bit more.

Posted by PopTart | April 22, 2008 2:07 PM

If the service person does not earn minimum wage - i.e. a waiter who is not busy serving tables took time to fix your take out - then he/she deserves a tip. But for a counter person who is earning at least minimum wage, a tip is technically not required.

Posted by Cat in Chicago | April 22, 2008 2:07 PM

Absent potential perks (as elenchos suggests), why would I tip for takeout? I might as well tip the cashier at QFC. Tipping is for serving, not for working the cash register. Next thing you know they'll be saying we ought to tip greeters.

Posted by tsm | April 22, 2008 2:08 PM

I'd say it depends on the place. I used to work at a pizza joint that would get absolutely packed on Friday nights, and we had several regulars who would tip a couple bucks just because it was obvious that we were stressed but still providing good service. Normally I don't tip for takeout but I could see myself doing so for situations like this.

Some people are just always good tippers, and I think they will generally tip for takeout. It definitely makes the employees happy!

Posted by kat | April 22, 2008 2:09 PM

@32 - NaFun, holy shit that is perfect. I suck with the maths and this solution is simple and elegant. GOODBYE GUILT!

Posted by kid icarus | April 22, 2008 2:10 PM


Posted by Gurldoggie | April 22, 2008 2:10 PM

At 37, having filed my taxes where half of my income was expected tipped income(about 10% of gross sales) hell yes its true. However, everyone makes far more than 10%, so every odd stiff or shitty tip doesn't mean I can't feed my family or anything like that.

As far as always tipping, a good policy, but if the service is shit, why reward bad bahavior?

At 26, novel concept, but the service in Europe across the board is shitty. Fast food is ridiculous, but I'd like to eat and be done in under 3 hours usually.

Posted by Server | April 22, 2008 2:10 PM

@37 - True. The person doing your paycheck will look at your sales, estimate that you got X%, and add it on to your taxable income even if you did not receive X%.
Least that's how it was in every restaurant I was working for...(which is 3, so maybe not a universal standard, but certainly my experience).

Tipping sucks and should be abolished. It's unfair to the consumer and the staff, in my opinion.

Posted by j4zz3rgrl | April 22, 2008 2:12 PM

oh, hell, NO!!

The tipping thing has gotten out of control...every motherfucker thinks he deserves a tip for working a counter.

just say no!

Posted by michael strangeways | April 22, 2008 2:13 PM

Yes, yes, yes. Tip 10%.

Posted by Davida | April 22, 2008 2:15 PM


Posted by Non | April 22, 2008 2:18 PM


Posted by Jim | April 22, 2008 2:19 PM

No tip.

Posted by JMR | April 22, 2008 2:20 PM

im also one of those assholes that likes non decimal amounts on checks. the server better pray that the decimal is low.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 22, 2008 2:22 PM

No, not even for takeout at a restaurant with sit down service. Sure, the person covering takeout is also regular wait staff, but most places rotate that position, so all the wait staff share the burden. If you want to build up some good karma, though, tip a few bucks.

Posted by David | April 22, 2008 2:22 PM


Posted by HURRRRRKK | April 22, 2008 2:26 PM

I always just tip one buck.

Posted by Gitai | April 22, 2008 2:35 PM


In Washington, waiters must earn minimum wage, whether they get tipped or not.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 22, 2008 2:35 PM

try to figure out how the tips are distributed. i worked at one place and since i was part time didn't get tips...unless it was placed directly in my hand by the tipper. but for take out no...unless you specify that it goes to the cooks and everyone will just look at you funny and it will take a long time.

Posted by Jiberish | April 22, 2008 2:40 PM

My Polish mom keeps two dollars in her left hand as she comes up the counter, and puts out her right hand. If the food is there, she hands over the tip. If the food is not (running late), the tip goes back in her pocket, for another day.

Posted by Big Sven | April 22, 2008 2:46 PM

No, although I often toss in a buck, or more if I'm a regular or have gotten some extra service or whatever.

I worked in food service for many years, and no one I worked with ever expected to get tipped on to go orders. To go orders weren't counted toward any server's calculated gross - they were charged to the house. Any tips from to go orders were pooled, not given to whoever rang the person up. I think those tips were split between the hostess and the cooks, which makes sense to me. I've also heard of those tips being pooled and at the end of the month being distributed to everyone as bonuses, which also seems fair.

Posted by genevieve | April 22, 2008 2:49 PM

a couple/few bucks the first time on good faith. If they are good, quick and nice, then more on future visits. Otherwise I'll go somewhere else.

What kind of cranky passive/aggressive lame-o can just answer "no"?

oh right, a Seattleite.

Posted by Abe | April 22, 2008 2:49 PM

I tip $1. There is SOME labor involved in bagging the stuff and then passing it over the counter. I feel this is more than sufficient.

Posted by Baxter | April 22, 2008 2:50 PM

Yes. The main reason is that we in the restaurant industry are taxed on our tips, and if we claim a low tip percentage for an evening or a longer time, it may send up a red flag about our tip claiming -- you could be contributing to an audit for your friendly servers. Besides that, there is service involved with putting together a to go order, from timing it so that the order is prepared by-but-not-too-long-before the pick up, to the actual packaging of the food. So, around 8% or so is appropriate. I know a lot of people have reservations about the very practice of tipping, but, in this culture at least, it's part of the deal; it's implicit in the experience of dining out or simply having others prepare for food for you. If you don't agree with or don't like the tip + wage system, fight for your server friends by advocating for living wage policies and affordable health care. Although some of the high end restaurants afford a person the opportunity to comfortable support themselves, many of us are struggling and would gladly trade a steady rate of income and better access to health care for our current tip system. Some of us do work for income only, some for the flexibility the work affords people in school or with children, and some stay in the field because feeding people is a pleasurable position. No matter what, though, service is service is service, and our system incorporates tips not as gifts (which would be nice), but as income or wages.
So, um, yeah... tip for take out.

Posted by pbaitch | April 22, 2008 2:55 PM

The way you word it is interesting.

a restaurant that has table service and, instead of sitting at a table, picking up an order

So, in other words, if it doesn't have seating, there's no question?

Like someone else said -- if you wouldn't tip at, say, a fast food drive through, a food court window, or a lunch truck, there's no point in tipping for take out.

If you DO, however.... then maybe you should.

In any case, on what basis would you determine how much to tip? You won't know how good the food is until you get it home.

Posted by K | April 22, 2008 2:55 PM

I am a rather generous tipper in a sit-down situation or for delivery, but I don't tip for fast food and I don't tip for take-out.

I remember working on Broadway and I started ordering burgers for take-out from a place across the street from the store I worked at... It was expensive (compared to what I'd been getting for lunch) but it was good--as I'd always liked going there for sit down meals.

That was until a co-worker told me that the bartender at the place said "Tell your buddy that if he isn't going to tip for his food, he's not welcome here."

So, I stopped coming...for take out, for sit down meals...I wasn't welcome, so I didn't go.

The owner of the place came over to the store I worked at one day and asked where I'd been--and I told him that I was told that I wasn't wanted at his restaurant because I didn't tip for take-out.

He said "That's stupid. Nobody tips for take-out."

Posted by pgreyy | April 22, 2008 2:55 PM

YES. ditto to levide who pointed out that few people on here have worked in the service industry. just add on a couple bucks, tip 10 or 15% (or 20% if you're generous). it's NOT that much money and you will be appreciated and remembered for it. especially if you have a large order, you're taking the time of people who *are* working for tips. nobody works in the industry for the minimum wage. just give up the few bucks and feel good about it.

Posted by skye | April 22, 2008 2:59 PM

I do tip about half what I'd normally tip, but only if I get the sense that the tips will make it to the cooks.

Posted by w7ngman | April 22, 2008 3:06 PM

If I get take-out alot (3 or more times a month) and it's not a chain, I usually leave a symbolic tip -- $1 for

Posted by Sometimes | April 22, 2008 3:11 PM

@65 et al

We should tip because we are concerned about your tip claiming? And other cries about needing tips?


It's absolutely asinine to put your well being into the line of fire of generosity.

You might as well be one of those people on the street with a cup who yell at you if you don't put change in it for them.

Tip: get a different job.

over, and over, and over again.

Posted by Non | April 22, 2008 3:17 PM

i do the even number on my credit card bill, too. on a high number i might add a buck, though...

if the place is packed i might tip. usually i pick up from that indian place on broadway kitty-corner from qfc around 5... and they are usually dead inside. i don't feel like i'm inconveniencing them much, and so i don't usually tip.

Posted by infrequent | April 22, 2008 3:20 PM

I would say yes. Not the 20% like a sit down meal but between 10% and 15%. The take out person is assuring that your meal is correct, accurate, hot and timely. Many times this involves yelling and fighting with cooks, managers and floor staff to get you your order on time. Aside from that they're also rushing around answering calls and ringing up guests. They're usually taking twice the amount of orders than a server and they only have one shot to get it right because you're taking it home. On top of that, they usually make a dollar more than minimum wage.

Posted by Wes | April 22, 2008 3:21 PM

I wish someone would tip me here at my desk. I work hard too (sometimes). Maybe I'll put a tipjar next to the printer.

Posted by blank12357 | April 22, 2008 3:25 PM

I'm from the midwest and I've worked in restaurants for 8 years. I worked at Denny's for 3 years and very very rarely was tipped for to-go orders. Although those that were regulars and tipped on to-go orders did get MUCH better service (and food too). I later worked at a much nicer restaurant and when there was an occasional to-go order there was almost always at least $1 up to 20% added as tip. Now I live in Seattle and I've noticed that tipping on to-go orders is much like it was a Denny's. The better the customer you are (being polite, paying attention to the estimated wait time, and tipping well) the better your food and experience.

My advice: Be a sympathetic and generous person and you won't end up with spit in your soup.

Posted by Snares | April 22, 2008 3:32 PM
People who haven't served food don't know this but, especially on a busy night, it is a huge pain in the ass to put in an order, take it from the kitchen, wrap it up with utensils and accept payment from the take-out customer when you have tables waiting. I always make sure to tip at least 5% on a take-out order.

What he or she said -- but wanted to emphasize it, as it's been lost amidst the blather of the cheap-assed punks on this board.

If it's not busy, it's not too big of a deal; but it's still appreciated. Is it really going to kill you to throw in a few extra dollars?

Also: if you go into the restaurant close to closing (intending to eat in), and you notice that there aren't many diners there, offer to get take-out instead, OR make damned sure you leave a damned nice tip for making the poor schmuck sit around and wait for you.

In general: just go ahead and leave five (or more for larger parties) more dollars than you think you need to. Won't make a difference to you, but it makes a big (psychological) difference to the server. Just an extra couple of dollars can totally make a server's night, and win you a friend for life.

It's not really about the money, so much as it is showing some respect.

Posted by shitbrain | April 22, 2008 3:34 PM

I worked as a waiter, and I wish things had worked like they did for genevieve @62. Where I worked, take out and to-go orders were assigned to whomever got the section of the restaurant that included the bar, and it counted towards your total sales. No one ever expected a tip, because we learned to expect people not to understand that take out and to-go orders amounted to more, and more demanding work than serving people who sit down. The servers were responsible for all the boxing of the food, throwing in the plastic utensils and napkins and condiments, and making and packaging any side salads and soups. The worst was when people would come in for a huge order, obviously for a large family or a party, and complain if the food wasn't ready when they got there and/or not even think to leave any tip. Small orders were, naturally, not really a big deal.

Even so, I think it's totally up to you if you want to tip or not. Even a rankled server will probably understand why you're not tipping.

Posted by spencer | April 22, 2008 3:46 PM

Here's how it works.

You tip 10 percent (or more, if you like) on take-out orders unless you ordered it from a cafeteria-style counter. In typical restaurants -- where you order take-out from the host or server -- that person is getting minimum wage and relies on tips to pay rent. They had to take the order, make sure it was made correctly, box all the stuff up with napkins and such, and handle the cash transaction. That's service in restaurant, so it doesn't matter whether that service all occurred in front of you or not. If you don't tip, you're a cheap fuck and going to hell.

Posted by Dominic Holden | April 22, 2008 3:49 PM

No. And no attitude, either. That means YOU, the meth-faced wannabe Jack Skellington girl at Stellar.

Posted by Tip me for eating in your restaurant | April 22, 2008 3:53 PM

I tend to tip for takeout, but 10% tops.

Posted by Breklor | April 22, 2008 3:54 PM

I pretty much never pay with cash anymore; when I do, I'll leave my change (any coinage, plus a buck if I've got it) in their tip jar or whatever.

When I pay with my card, if there's a line to include a tip, then I add in a buck or so. If there's no line for a tip, they get no tip. So really, I leave it up to the restaurant.

Posted by Sarah | April 22, 2008 3:56 PM


Is it really going to kill you to throw in a few extra dollars?

Is it really going to kill YOU not to have a few extra dollars from me for performing the job that you are PAID to do?

In general: just go ahead and leave five (or more for larger parties) more dollars than you think you need to. Won't make a difference to you, but it makes a big (psychological) difference to the server. Just an extra couple of dollars can totally make a server's night, and win you a friend for life.

Now we're throwing in a few more bucks to help out the mental well being of the server? and for FRIENDSHIP?

I don't know if I can convey how fucking hilarious that is with the use of only a bold tag, but


Posted by Non | April 22, 2008 4:05 PM

Thanks for tipping!

Posted by Management Ripping Off Workers | April 22, 2008 4:12 PM

I tip for sit-down and delivery, and only occasionally for carryout.

Our servers at sit-down restaurants make something like $2.85 an hour and rely on their tips to make up the difference between that and a living wage. The system is screwed up and sucky, yeah. In a perfect situation, servers would make a living wage without tips.

I don't order in or eat out much any more, though, so consider the source.

Posted by Wolf | April 22, 2008 4:13 PM

No, Dominic.

Service is someone coming up to me and being prepared to take my order--which includes offering both factual information about the options presented to me but also being able to offer their own opinions and suggestions in that process.

Service is someone coming up to me and making certain that the food is prepared the way I expected it to be and being prepared to fix anything that's wrong.

Service is someone coming up to me and offering to refill a beverage.

Service is someone coming up to me and being prepared to suggest dessert options while not being pushy about that.

Service is someone handling the clearing of plates and the handling of the check in a prompt and unobtrusive manner.

Service is doing all of that in a way that enhances the enjoyment of a meal.

That is what I tip for--and, I'm happy to say that in most cases, I'm pleased by the service that I find in most of the places that I go to in the Seattle the point where I will tip over and above the expected amount.

However, I don't think that I should be expected to pay over and above what the menu says just to have someone take my payment and hand me my take-out food--because that isn't service. Nothing additional has been added to my experience--so nothing additional is needed as payment for that.

Once I get my food to take home, everything that I'd consider to be "service" is absent.

What happens when I get home and the food wasn't cooked the way I wanted it? No one is there to fix it. Not only did I not get service, I didn't even get the minimum that I'd expect from any food transaction--that of not messing up my order.

And are you really saying that if I don't tip for take-out food that my food might purposefully be prepared wrong? Without the benefit of a time machine, how does THAT work?

"Box up all the stuff with napkins" is deserving of a tip???? Are you serious? Should I be tipping while going through a fast-food drive through then?

Because, I'm not going to.

Hell, the more I read here from the food industry people who seem to feel entitled to what is really a show of appreciation...the less I want to keep going to restaurants and empowering this way of thinking.

Oh, who am I kidding. I can't quit you, food industry. And, if Dominic is right, I'll be fat and happy on my way to hell...overtipping those of you who helped to make me that way.

Posted by pgreyy | April 22, 2008 4:15 PM

This whole thread calls into question what a tip is really for. If it's to enforce social justice and help your server get paid a living wage, then we should tip for take-out (and/or eradicate tipping and improve wages). If tipping is payment for services rendered than anything more than a couple dollars for take-out is ludicrous.

Posted by Dawgson | April 22, 2008 4:16 PM

pgreyy, I'm glad you came around. Folks who work in the restaurant business -- front of house -- get paid minimum wage. They can't pay the bills without tips for their service. And getting you the stuff you ask for, just the way you ask for it, is service. You pay for it. It's not a gift or something special. It's how the food service economy works in this country. If you didn't have to tip, restaurants would cost 20 percent more. Be happy the gratuity is at your discretion and quit bitching.

Posted by Dominic Holden | April 22, 2008 4:22 PM


enforce social justice and help your server get paid a living wage

There is no social justice involved. Look, you didn't go to college and you don't have a skill. You get paid what you're worth.

The truth hurts, so go ahead and spit in my food. You (servers) are like that, as I understand.

Fitting, isn't it.

Posted by Non | April 22, 2008 4:29 PM

I didn't come around, Dominic--I'm still not going to tip for take-out. I'm just not going to do something stupid like boycott restaurants just because some people have unreasonable expectations.

And, emphatically, NO--"getting the stuff you ask for, just the way you ask for it" is NOT, I repeat, NOT "service."

It is what is expected of any commercial transaction. If I go to Easy Street to buy some CDs, am I expected to throw a couple of bucks to the clerk for the "service" of ringing me up and putting my cds in a bag? No.

As far as "oh, but they only get paid minimum wage and they can't pay their bills unless you tip"--that really isn't my concern, as a consumer...and insisting on putting it that way makes it no better than begging for spare change.

A consumer can't be expected to consider the life decisions of everyone whom they interact with when making purchasing decisions. That's ridiculous.

And, frankly, I'd RATHER pay 20% more and STILL tip for getting solid service if it meant that there wasn't this sense of entitlement and misdirected blame on the customer (instead of those exploiting cheap labor) surrounding tipping.

Posted by pgreyy | April 22, 2008 4:37 PM

@88: A lot of servers went to college. And a lot of people in higher paid office jobs (most people I know) are basically paid to do an hour of work a day and then spent the rest of their time reading blogs and chatting.

I would venture to say most servers work harder and have more skills than most entry level project managers, web "producers," and marketers I work with. The servers just made worse job choices, probably in the name of "pursuing their art."

Posted by Dawgson | April 22, 2008 4:40 PM

I tip a couple bucks if I'm getting a full meal (i.e. multiple dishes). If you're handing me a croissant and a coffee and I walk out the door, generally not. I tip more at local restaurants that I frequent-- they remember me, and thus the service is better when I go and eat in.

Posted by Jessica | April 22, 2008 4:46 PM

People do don't tip and can't tell what difference it makes don't need to tip. You can't convince them they have to pay for something that they have no appreciation for. Their kind always end up at cheap lowest-common-denominator chain restaurants sooner or later anyway, so why let it bother you? It's a beautiful world.

Posted by elenchos | April 22, 2008 4:51 PM

@30 I also read the Miss Manners article where she said that tipping on take out was optional.

Posted by j-lon | April 22, 2008 4:55 PM

I got paid minimum wage for yearrrrs without tips. I did not work in the service industry. (Additionally at one time I worked in the service industry and was paid minimum wage and was not allowed to accept tips on store policy.)

Anyhoo, I managed to support two people on a single salary. I understand it's difficult. But some perspective is nice.

Tipping is an option not an obligation and shouldn't be thought of as such. EVEN when it's socially responsible of you to do so you can choose not to.

(Not that I believe tipping is necessary in this situation.)

Anyway, if you're stuck in an industry that you dislike so much, try to leave. It took me four years, but it happened.

Posted by Nay | April 22, 2008 4:56 PM

@19: Um, compared to coming to a table, taking a drink order, delivering drinks, laying out napkins and silverware, coming back again for an order, having to come back a third time becuase they weren't ready, taking the meal order, carrying it out and placing each item, bringing out refills, checking up, bringing extra napkins, taking a dessert order, carrying that out, bringing the check, processing it, and bringing out the slip... PLUS two boxes and a bag for leftovers anyway?

Sounds dubious. Compare the server work to prepare any take-out order to the server work for the same customer with the same items (plus drinks, etc) actually *in* the restaurant and I don't see how they come remotely close.

I really don't see how take out work could compare to sit-down-customer work. It may be a pain in the ass because you have to do it in addition to your tables, but just think about if they were additional tables instead.

Posted by K | April 22, 2008 4:58 PM

@68 et al: You're full of it, right? The only people who can legally be paid less than minimum wage are servers. Their job is to serve food to tables and maintain a good sit-down meal experience.

So even if they're not serving me, the very fact that I set foot in the store means I need to give them a percentage of my order's cost, not because they served me, which they didn't, but just because they took a below-minimum-wage job and I was in their presence? Should I check with the other customers just in case they are off-duty servers and give them a cut as well?

Don't tip people who don't provide a service. That would be stupid. At most, the amount of "service" provided by putting a bag around my food and handing it to me is worth maybe 1-2 percent, not the 15-20 the Slogging server cabal demands from customers.

If everyone tipped the way those guys demand, people would go out a lot less. Meaning less customers, less restaurants, and less need for servers.

Posted by K | April 22, 2008 4:58 PM

Non-tippers crack me up. You guys get all militant when it becomes clear what a minority you are, and it pisses you off. Because you might just be an asshole, huh?

But what do you care? Keep your money. Enjoy the kind service you get. What is the problem?

Posted by elenchos | April 22, 2008 5:11 PM

Is non-tipping for take-out really the minority opinion? Because being expected to tip for take-out is unreasonable, huh?

But, elenchos, you're absolutely right. Food service industry personnel should purposefully ruin every take-out order--that way, people don't ever order take-out and thus, problem solved.

Posted by pgreyy | April 22, 2008 5:20 PM


You're confounding the issues. I tip when I eat in, but I definitely do not when I am picking was the original question posed.

Posted by Non | April 22, 2008 5:24 PM

Ummm, Eli looks like you opened a whoop ass can of worms with this question. My unscientific and on the fly count thus far:

No: 23
Yes: 35
Exception cases: 16

Posted by PopTart | April 22, 2008 5:38 PM

It's been my experience that tipping generously more than pays for itself. Unless you're like this "Non"-person, who seems to relish being a bucket of pus.

Posted by Abe | April 22, 2008 6:01 PM

I tip the same as I would in a restaurant. 20%, not including any delivery charge. But I figure it's just like eating out only the server has to come all the way to my house. I think that's worth a decent tip.

Besides that, my pizza is NEVER late. I think there's a note next to my name that says "big tipper."

Posted by monkey | April 22, 2008 6:12 PM

Yes. I worked at a cashier in a restuarant and as a server. As a cashier you do extra work for take out orders. You might not notice the extra work unless you go home with the wrong order or without the napkins that you requested. The cashier who takes your order should check those things. Also, if the server takes the to go order, they rely on all tips. The time spent on your to go order took them away from the table. YES. YES. YES.

Posted by Papayas | April 22, 2008 6:27 PM

Monkey @ 102--We're talking about take-out, not delivery. I don't think anyone here has advocated not tipping for delivery.

Papayas @ 103--You are insane. You honestly believe you deserve up to 20% of my take out food order because you made sure to put napkins in my bag?

To reiterate, I tip plenty when I'm well served at a restaurant or when I've had food delivered to me...but you haven't earned a tip for merely ringing me up and handing me my order--that's the absolute minimum you could do...and yes, I'd expect that be done correctly without me having to pay extra for it.

Posted by pgreyy | April 22, 2008 8:33 PM


Nobody said ruin. Calm down.


I know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're ordering take out and never tipping when you pick it up, and the service you get when you do that is good enough for you, then that's great. Other people tip for takeout because they notice a difference.

I think over time the non-tippers gravitate to the places where everybody gets the same mediocre service no matter what, and the tippers frequent the places where there is a difference between good service and the run of the mill. It's all good. Don't complain about it.

Posted by elenchos | April 22, 2008 8:37 PM

I am so sick of this "obviously you have never worked in the service industry" bullshit. I was a waitress for two years and I don't tip for takeout. I also don't tip my sandwich artist at subway, the kid who makes my smoothie, or at any of the other ridiculous places that have added jars or tip lines to their credit card receipts. It really does not take the same amount of service for someone to put together a to go order as it does for someone to dote on a table for a forty-five minute meal. So you had to put some food in a box and a hostess had to ring it up...that's what you get paid to do. Tipping isn't a given. It is something you receive for giving good or exceptional service to your customers. Taking four minutes to box up a to go does not constitute.

For that matter, neither does slacking on your job and only going to the table to take and deliver the order. When I worked in food service there was an overabundance of crappy waitstaff that would move at the pace of molasses and with the charm of Mao and would then proceed to bitch and moan when the table left them 10-15% instead of 20%. Your gratuity is not a part of your salary, kids. You make minimum wage for doing the basics of your job, you make tips for doing it well. If this doesn't make you happy then you are in the wrong business.

As an aside, does anyone else get the evil eye from baristas when you put change in the tip jar? I just bought a three dollar coffee and gave you 85 cents and you are pissed about it? Can someone explain?

Posted by jewritto | April 22, 2008 8:53 PM

I've been in the idustry for over 20 years, working both the front and back of the house.
1) the number of places where the kitchen shares the FOH tips is in the single digits. Cooks are paid almost real money and often work 10-20 hours of overtime per week. The servers need the bucks.
2)I don't tend to tip for take out, or at most counter-service establishments. The kitchen is often responsible for packaging the food, and all the FOH staff had to do was match the items on the ticket with the ones in the bag. I know that this a bit of effort on the part of the staff, but so is sidework-like making sure there's enough silverware and napkins at the wait stations and that the glasses are polished.
3) All kinds of people end up waiting tables for all kinds of reasons. It's a much harder job than many people realize. A reasonable tip for reasonable service is appreciated.

Posted by PastryChef | April 22, 2008 10:44 PM

tip like 10% if they're nice, that's my policy, and it's a good one.

Posted by joe | April 22, 2008 10:59 PM


Miss Manners was never a waitress.

If you don't want to tip, go to a fast food joint. Not only do sit-down restaurant servers have to still get the food together, your take out is taking out precious time from their catering to their sit down guests, who on a busy night could then dock their tip.

I was taught to tip even before the income tax 8% law, and now they can't escape the tax man. Tip at least 8%, or they're paying you to serve you.

Posted by idaho | April 22, 2008 11:41 PM

Be sure to tally up the votes by the sloggy masses.

Posted by idaho | April 22, 2008 11:42 PM

yeah, you should tip - and you should always tip if it's a mom-and-pop place. You won't burn in hell if you don't sometimes, but you should feel at least a little guilty, and then you should make extra sure to tip the next one. You're already eating out - who wants to be the skinflint jerk?

Posted by don't you wanna go back there? | April 23, 2008 7:59 AM

I'm a bartender and have to deal with to-go orders occasionally. Don't tip on to-go. Sure I'm happy when people do, but I don't expect it or get mad when they don't.

Posted by PdxRitchie | April 23, 2008 12:51 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).