Tipping: From a Server’s Point of View.


So I’ve been a restaurant worker for about 4 1/2 years now. I love working in the restaurant industry, it’s actually quite relaxing for me. Most would say it’s hard, it’s stressful, it’s frustrating. You have to learn a menu, be able to sell that menu, take the table’s order precisely, not mess anything up, time the dishes to come out at the right time, not spill anything, learn an extensive wine and or cocktail list, and pour a bottle of wine without poking anyone in the eye or breaking a cork in the bottle, wait on many tables at once and be nice to ALL of them.

It’s a whole lot of memorization, skill, acting (yes, acting), multitasking, and professionalism, wrapped into one. Plus, I work with friends, so it’s a little of social time mixed in. So when I wait on tables, I get to just focus on just the tables. I can’t start to think too much about other life related troubles or I’ll get distracted. That’s why I like to wait on tables, it’s very zen for me, and there’s a free drink at the end of my shift. (Doesn’t hurt!)

Now for the soapbox. I’ve heard from new co-workers a lot lately that they aren’t getting tipped properly. I don’t complain because I understand people, and why they tip the way they do. I know I’m doing the best I can, so If I get a bad tip, I chalk it up to some of the reasons i’ve listed below. Yet some servers work their butts off, waiting on multiple tables at a time, only to get left 5% on a $100+ bill. Why is this?

One thing could be that the people are cheap. They have never worked in the restaurant industry a day in their life, and they think our hourly wage is more than just a fraction of minimum wage. They think all we do is write down what they want and ‘boop-boop’ it into the system and bring the magically prepared food to the table. And they think that we don’t deserve much of a tip, because we “didn’t do much”. We didn’t cook the food, buy the food, prepare the food, or plate the food. In that case, please, don’t tip me at all, go into the kitchen and leave the money in the food window. I’m sure the cooks would appreciate that. If you can afford to go out to eat, you can afford to tip. And if you can’t, STAY HOME.

Then there’s the people that think we shouldn’t get tipped for opening a bottle of wine. You order $60 in food and $40 in wine, so you think it’s ok to just tip on the food. Hey, all we did was bring you some wine, right? Well what do you think happens with the food? All I did was take an order for food, and bring it to you. Do I not deserve a tip on that? I work just as hard to memorize the wine, wine flavors, names, what foods they will go well with as I do the ingredients in the food menu. Only when I bring you wine, I actually have to show it to you, open it carefully, stand there while you taste it, pour it, and bring you a wine chiller if need be, so I in fact, put just as much effort into the wine as I do the food. Again I say, if you can’t afford to tip a server, STAY HOME.

Not as easy as it looks sometimes. Image credit to Grape Squeeze.

And then there’s bad servers. I’m guilty of not tipping well if I go out to a restaurant because the server was bad. I know that the server is the one that gets the tip, not the cook, the hostess, or the wine maker in Italy. If you forget something and don’t bring it out at all, if you have a bad attitude, if your hygiene is bad, if you took FOREVER getting me a simple glass of water, or a many other plethora of reasons you have a bad server, I say to those servers, it’s just a serving job. If you don’t like it, go work somewhere else. I once went to a diner where the servers were watching an episode of Dr.Oz about bowel movements and poop on the TV in the dining room. And didn’t see a problem with it. When I asked her to change the station she replied “it’s not as bad as yesterday’s episode.” Um. WHAT WAS ON YESTERDAY?!

In the end this little article is written not only as a little rant, but it gives a little insight into the job of a restaurant worker and why they do- or don’t deserve a tip. But if you have a good server, they were well informed, dressed nice, and have a pleasant attitude, and nothing was screwed up at the table that was the server’s responsibility, that’s all you can really ask for while dining out. So if you can’t afford to leave AT LEAST a %15 – %18 tip for them, please just STAY HOME. It’s just insulting, and makes you look bad. Plus, if you tip well, and I see you for a second time, guess who’s getting the BEST service ever. You.

Happy dining out!

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