But even practiced tippers continue to struggle with what may very well be the most complex tipping quandary for restaurant-goers: Should one tip on takeout?
Here's why the problem's so advanced: It forces the customer to evaluate what's happening behind the scenes, a tricky proposition even for seasoned industry insiders. Since no server is going to bore you with the details of how your order was taken, placed, boxed and bagged, it's up to you to figure out whether anything tip-worthy transpired.
Tip-haters will be delighted to know I don't think there's generally anything wrong with skipping the tip on a to-go order. My fellow servers and I expect to be tipped on things like knowing the menu, anticipating diners' needs and keeping the dining room spotless – all of which are irrelevant in a take-out situation. While I'm quite sure there isn't a server anywhere who'd turn down a tip, few servers plan to get rich handing bags to customers.
If customers sense that their to-go orders might have chipped away at a server's time (which really does equal money in the restaurant biz), leaving a tip is the right thing to do. An astounding number of take-out customers will call a restaurant during dinner rush and ask whoever answers the phone to read the entire entrée section aloud -- and then check whether there's peanut oil in the salmon.
Most restaurants allow their servers to ring up to-go orders in such a way that they aren't penalized for the sale by having to report it to the IRS or calculate it into their end-of-shift tip-out. If your order's waiting for you at the bar, it's a fairly safe bet that nobody will suffer if you leave the tip line blank.
But if you arrive at a restaurant to find a server hustling off the floor to package your spaghetti, that's probably worth a dollar or two. Similarly, if a server offers to carry your food to your car, there's nothing wrong with expressing your gratitude in cash. Take-out orders don't require tips – but that shouldn't stand in the way of acknowledging good service.
|Of course. It's the least I can do for people who don't make much in wages.||4036 (41.7%)|
|Never. If I haven't been served a drink or had my plate cleared, what's the point?||4492 (46.4%)|
|I never thought about it, but maybe now I will.||1157 (11.9%)|