Tipping Etiquette: Bars & Restaurants

I have worked in the service industry for most of my life.  At age 15, I told myself “I’m going to be an actor, so I should probably learn to wait tables.”  It’s really too bad I didn’t say “I should really learn how to rebuild cars!” or “Invest money in long term investments that will pay off when I’m 30.”  If you are 15 years old, do yourself a favor and learn a trade like reupholstering.  Am I projecting?  Yes.  I need a chair reupholstered.

Back on track!  Since I’ve been on the “service” side of the service industry my whole life, I figured I’d talk about tipping etiquette.

1.  20% is the new 15%.  I know Oprah said 15% is good enough, but it ain’t!  But Kimmy, what if my service is crappy?  Refer to number 5.


I’m serious douchebags.  DON’T DO IT!  When you eat a restaurant or go to a bar, you HAVE to keep in mind that it’s just not the price on the menu you are paying for.  Basically, your bill will be 30% higher than what you order.  First, tax (wherever you are, it could be 10%), plus tip is 20%.  And if you get booze, you add  10-25% to your bill with every round, plus

SO -If you want to spend $100 on a meal, you should only spend $70.  Service is something you have to account for.  Am I venting out loud?


Old Etiquette:  $1/cocktail or beer

New Etiquette:  $1-20%

There are a lot of different types of bars out there.

CLUB:  I’m not sure what to say about clubs.  Listen, if you go to clubs that charge $14 for a crappy gin and tonic or a beer – please don’t complain about tipping.  Remember, you can choose where to throw your money.  If you don’t at least leave $1, I’d be very very mad at you.  It’s usually the worst service and no one cares, but for the love of Booze, don’t punish the employees for their crappy club.  Just don’t GO there.   Remember, these places overcharge – all booze costs the same.  You are paying a “cool” tax.  You have officially been schooled.

DIVE BARS:  Sometime you can get really good deals, like $1-$4 beers.  Why NOT tip a dollar?  I have a soft spot for dive bars.  The staff is usually super friendly and they usually give out free snacks.  What’s not to love?  Would you really eat all of your friends food and drink all their booze without offering some cash.  Probably – BUT STOP. Be good and TIP.

CRAFTED COCKTAILS:  I work at a really fancy bar with only 12 tables.  It’s not your “flag down the bartender with your tits and a twenty” kind of joint.  It’s a real nice place for real nice people.  The bartenders spend 2-5 minutes on every single drink they make, cutting ice, muddling fruits – no short cuts.  These kind of bars are popping up around the big cities and officially deserve the 20% per cocktail.  These places are much more like restaurants for cocktails, so start thinking of them that way.

There’s a great article about this in the New York Times about the great tip debate.  Give it a gander.  http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/a-dollar-a-drink-and-a-debate/


I think one of my worst pet peeves is finding out people were dissatisfied when I see a passive aggressive “fuck you” in the form of a $2 tip on $100 bill.  Yep.  That happened to me not long ago .  The girl drunkenly gestured her cigarette at me and told me (misspellings/grammatical errors intentional) “You’re are the WUUURST waitress of all times.  I like that OTHER GIRL and that GUY…youb didn’t do nuth…how dare you ask me what wuz wrong and tip you not.”


Anyway, my takeaway, was that, from my prospective, everything was fine.  We pool tips, so we help each other out and trade off we can tell we’re just not getting along (as was the case here).  HOWEVER, I would have really appreciated if they had voiced it to me earlier.

Here’s the thing, most of the time, waiters and waitresses have no idea how mad or upset you are – because you PRETEND everything’s ok, EXPECTING them to know what’s wrong.  Talk to us, we will not spit in your food – unless you’re a douchebag.

So, things you CAN complain about:

*You’re dissatisfied with your meal/cocktail.  Say something right away!!!  However, if you’re picky, for the love of Sanity – just don’t go out.

*Something is wrong with your order.

*Someone is really rude – on this note – make sure YOU, the customer, are following the RULES as well.  When you enter a bar or restaurant, you are entering someone else’s house.  Just because you’re paying for it, doesn’t mean you can spit on the floor (also happened recently).

Sooooooo, there you go!  Please chime in with your thoughts and questions.  I hope to do a series about tipping in other places.  Just remember, just because you’re a cheapskate, doesn’t mean you don’t tip.




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