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RHU Discussion: Restaurant Tipping


I've had a tipping question that's bothered me for a while and I'd hope that the RHU community would be able to help me somewhat reconcile it and decide what to do for the future.

Sometimes, late at night, my husband and I will get cravings, so we'll get some food from one of the sit down restaurants, like Waffle House. 

However, we'd rather actually eat the food at home, so one of us goes to said restaurant and will get a to go order. 

My dilemma is when I get the bill and there's a line for the tip (we always pay by card).

On the one hand, if we had actually gone there to sit down, we would certainly tip. 

I'm also aware that it's hard work at a restaurant and that tips help supplement the "pay". On the other hand, I'm not actually sitting at a table, the waitress isn't having to do things like offer me drinks or clean up after me.. indeed, the only thing the waitress does is bag the order, and at that point it feels like it's no different than going to a fast food restaurant (well, except for the fact that their hash browns are awesome).

So would I still tip when I get a to-go order or not? 

My husband would automatically say no, due to what I've already mentioned, but I'm a tad bit conflicted.





I tip 10% if it's strictly takeout, more if the server had an active role in the order. I tip 20% for sit-down service, btw.


If it's pure take-out, I tip just enough to bring the total to an even dollar amount.


Ooh, I'm looking forward to some of these comments. (I loved Waiterrant website too) - reason being, we dont tip here at the bottom of the world. Minimum adult (18 & over) wage is $NZ 12.75 an hour, which is not huge, but it's not the pittance a lot of waitstaff seem to get in the US, though, and we have no history of tipping, so there is no expectation on customers to do so. I do see tip jars occasionally at cafes and restaurants nowadays though, but most custys ignore them. When a new franchisee took over my FAVOURITE (OMG) coffee place, she decided to let custys use the old tip glass as a mini-rubbish bin for receipts and used-up loyalty cards! That's how often it was used prior!!

If I were you, Q, based on zero personal experience, I'd tip the person who serves you if (s)he actually treats you decently and cracks a smile! I'd be prepared to tip just for being able to take away food that is normally sit-down.
And I'd tip her/him cash. Isnt there some issue with adding tips to a credit card? You server may not actually receive the tip? (I used to read waiterrant FAR too much. Not anymore! XD )

have a weekend, guys. There's no such thing as a bad one - unless you have to slave....


Me again, sorry, forgot about ginormous time difference. Have a good Friday first!


I only tip for takeout if the server is really going beyond the basics or if they have to do a lot of work like fetching drinks or prepping the small things like putting salsa in cups or dishing up side salads. If they're just picking the order up from the counter and taking my cash I don't tip.

As a general rule I tip about 10% for involved pick up or buffet and 20% for a proper sit down meal. The biggest exemption is the Chinese restaurant at buffet lunch time. I tip almost 100% there because they go so far beyond. They don't charge for my son at all (officially the kids are meant to be about 2/3 of the adult price) and they always put out fresh sizzling tofu and scallion pancakes for us, even if we're the only ones there.


tip something like 10%. often to bag a takeout order, the server needs to track down various condiments, plastic cutlery, etc. which are never where they're supposed to be.

RHU Police Officer

I normally tip for takeout simply because it's awkward not tipping if there is a tip line.

My biggest tip for takeout was after I had sat down, ordered my food, and just as they were bringing it out I got a call (was on duty). I had to leave my oh-so-good looking food sitting on the table and yelled across the restaurant to the waitress that I would be back to pay for it.

When I got back to pay (expecting to pay for food I never got to eat as thats usually what happens) she had not only packed my food up, but recooked most of the food that wouldn't have tasted so good almost and hour later. I paid for my meal and left her a 100% tip. It's not often you get service like that.


I agree with hypothetical, id probably just do a dollar and some change to bring it up to an even dollar amount. You're right that they didn't do nearly as much since it's a togo order, but they did do something right? I work at a cafe that serves everything from desserts to coffee to steak, and I do have to package the togo items. And unlike at a fast food place, there are usually three people that check to make sure your food is correct and has everything it needs. So at least at my place, a lot more goes into a togo order than what it seems, so I usually tip.


I used to work as a carryout clerk at a sit down restaurant, and we had the optional tip line as you mention. More often than not, I'd do everything but cook the food for carryout orders; garnish, box/bag, go off in search of rolls/dressing/condiments/etc, and then ring up the customers when they came in. Because I didn't actually wait tables, I only made tips when carryout custys signed the card slip. I made the same (pitiful) wage as the servers, but almost never had any tips to add to it. So I really appreciated the kind custys who filled out that extra line. Even if it was only 10%.


I work at said restaurant, and hardly ANYONE tips takeout. And honestly, I don't blame them.
We the waitresses, write the phone order down, and give it to the cook. We don't do jack. I mean, we get paid $2.15 an hour, but if I haven't done anything to 'serve' you, I don't feel I deserve a tip.
But if you feel like you should, go for it, I won't tell you 'no' ~_^

Top Shotta

I don't tip on take out. I just skip the tip line and write the total again in the total part. I believe tips are to show the server that you appreciate them serving you. If no one served me, why am I tipping??? Maybe I will start doing that if random people start handing me money for no reason.


I used to do take-out at the restaurant where I now serve. I told customers not to tip on credit cards cause it went straight to the restaurant and not to me. If someone handed me extra change, like a buck or two and said to keep it, I would 9considering my parking at work was not free, it definitely helped). But I never expected anything extra from anyone.


I always tip the usual 15-20%, whether it's sit-down or take-out. I figure that whoever cooked it spent the same amount of time whether I'm there or not, somebody took my order, and the waitstaff probably got stiffed by someone else, even though they didn't wait on me all night. Unless the service is downright hostile or completely nonexistent, I never mind tipping normally, no matter how I get the food.

A Fellow Slave

I've been screwed over by a missed/adjusted decimal point on the tip line....

My rule usually is, if I tip by card, something small to round out my charge to be a bit more even.

I usually try to keep cash on hand though. Just a bit. I try to use that first. Most places I go to are small places to grab a to-go order and have a tip jar by the register, so I put my tip money in that.


You ABSOLUTELY TIP. I don't know how it works in all restaurants, but I work at a 24 hour diner. Instead of having a specific person who takes care of to go orders (because that would make sense) we get yelled for to take to-go orders as they come, while we're in the middle of taking care of sit-down customers. And we're required to put together, bag, and check the order--making it just as important as a sit-down order, if not more, because if you forget ANYTHING, the person is already home.

To-go orders get us completely screwed up and can really put a cramp in your rhythm. Not that I mind taking them, but its rather annoying when we spend time and effort and forsake our other customers to prepare the order, and then--we don;t even get tipped for it.

Please tip for your to-go order. It usually goes to the specific server who got the order ready for you. And even if it doesn't--would it really stretch your budget to spend an extra couple bucks?

Hope this helped--it helps me!

Sub Shop Slut

Definitely tip. Waiters/waitresses are paid SHIT. They RELY ON your tips. I know in my area minimum wage is $7.25, waiters/waitresses only get about $3.00 to $3.50 TOPS.


I don't tip on takeout. I wasn't being served. But I am sure there are people out there who think that putting forks and napkins in a bag equates to serving. Sorry, but I am not supplementing someone's income because they aren't paid enough. I do take out to save on tips and delivery costs and so I can eat it at home.


Generally speaking, even if you didn't sit down and eat, and the server wasn't bringing drinks and checking on you - your order still took some of their time. Time away from a sit-down meal.
> They might have taken the order in the middle of a dinner rush with two tables staring daggers at them.
> They might have been in back bagging it and making sure you had the right food and the proper eating utensils while a table sat without quick drink refills.
> They might have to grab it, bring it and cash you out just as two meals come up and need to be served.

One take out order might not be a lot of work, but a lot of 'little jobs' end up adding up. Enough of them and the bigger jobs suffer.

I tip a few bucks on a take-out, especially if the one handling my transaction is also a server. My meal took some time away from their tables. They might as well be compensated.


It depends on how many meals and/or if it's complicated. Simple 1 person meal-10%... complicated multi-person meals-15-20% ... especially if it's a place I frequently order take out from.


No tip, unless they go out of their way to do something for you (like bring you a complementary drink while you wait).

The kitchen is the one that has to deal with all the "complications" in the order.

You don't tip the cashier in any other store for bagging your order. Even in the grocery stores where there is a separate bag person you usually only tip if they take them to your car or otherwise go out of their way.

In Europe you don't even tip waitstaff if you eat at the bar! Only if you eat at a table.

This tipping thing has gotten completely out of hand. If dealing with take-out is taking away from the earnings the waiters are making they should take it up with management.


I definitely give a small tip on the rare occasions that I get take-out--more if there's any kind of special service. I have dietary restrictions and like to make sure they're followed, and because I'm often a repeat customer, I want to make a good impression too.

Servers are treated like absolute garbage--like cashiers, they're at the bottom of the pile--so I am more than happy to give a tip just in case they're somehow affected by the take-out order.


I usually tip about 10% on take-out and like others have mentioned, I usually do it in cash.

The exception to this is if I order for more than just me. When I pick up food for the roommates ect. I up the tip to 20%


I usually tip about 20% when sitting to eat but hardly ever for togo service. If I've never seen you face, you're not getting a tip , or atleast not much of one ($1-ish). but truly I didn't force you to take a job as a server and it's not my duty to supplement your income because you chose a low paying job. Same goes for when I'm at Chili's and I get 4 different waitresses bringing me different things. They get lees of a tip because- If I don't know who it goes to they obv. don't care about receiving it.

Jenna Brittain

I work in a restaurant - I never expect tips on take out orders. I expect tips otherwise. It's just the norm.

Know what royally pisses me off? Earlier this week I got assigned to a catering order - all I had to do was help make it and drop it off. I got picked for the job because a) I have a gps, and b) I have a civic (the rest of my coworkers have trucks) I was really excited when I saw that it was a $200 catering order. Catering orders usually give pretty good tips and it means I get an unofficial long smoke break, AWAY from horrible customers.

I got to work an hour early so I could prepare it, left early to make sure that I got their on time, and got it there 10 minutes early.

I got a 10 dollar tip. I got a 10 dollar tip on a 50 mile round trip, through the busiest part of the metroplex with the most traffic, in a strange neighborhood. I used 1/4 a tank of gas and dragged my ass out of bed early.

I was expecting at LEAST 10%, so $20 to make sure my gas was covered. My gas was NOT covered by this trip, I actually LOST money doing this.

Seriously. If you or your office orders catering, especially if you're ordering from a place that is 25 miles away, (hence the 50 mile round trip) always tip well. Catering orders usually require above and beyond preparation and brain cells.

NC Tony

When I worked at a restaurant 90% of the time we never got tips on take out orders. People would come in, get their to go orders and leave. The other ten percent of the time, people would ask for the name of the person taking their call, and then tip, in cash, that person, but these people were few and far between. I don't think I've ever tipped when getting take out, then again most of the time I get take out it's usually from a fast food place, (although I will drop at least a buck into the tip jar at the pizza place).


Do take out order count as part of a server's taxed sales? I've worked in restaurants where they don't, so the managers took the tips while a non-tipped employee like a hostess or a cashier assembled the order.


I actually have a story here that is rather bullshit to the situation, but relevant as a whole because it's different.
I used to work at a restaurant that had a carry out, but it wasn't servers that handled the carry out- it was either the bartender (not likely to happen) or a host/ess (almost always.) However, hosts and hostesses don't get paid pathetic hourly wages at that restaurant- they get a decently high per-hour wage because we're technically not supposed to make tips.
However, whoever got to work the carryout there also got the benefit to reap in tips because they're still selling food and have to go back and garnish everything according to the order put in. At the same time, though, all they're doing is carryout and not actually serving or anything and the entire process is rather jumbled but still extraordinarily easy there.

My point here being that these hostesses (there has yet to be a single guy to get that spot) pretty much get a free tip line AND get to make more than the servers per hour AND still reap benefits from tips and since these girls are typically the "pretty" ones, they're almost guaranteed tips from the idiots that reside around here. What I'm saying is that they can easily rake in their hourly wage and get 10-20% tips for less work than everyone else who was working.
Also account for the fact that they don't have to give any portion of tips to the bussers (since they don't have any tables to get cleaned) so they get to keep every cent from their tips.

Needless to say, I don't order carryout from that restaurant and when I do, I don't tip them. I find their situation to be downright unfair to everyone else that does 4x their work and still makes less compared their easy pickin's in their position. They don't have to clean anything and their duties are piss-easy when they're on carryout and they're able to take all of their earnings without having to redistribute. It's shit.

I realize not all restaurants work this way, but I like to ask how it works before I tip because I've grown tired of people reaping unnecessary and undeserved rewards off the labors of others. :/


The restaurant I work at does about 60% of its business in takeout, and a lot of people do tip. We (the servers) take your order, make sure things are correct, bag it, take care of you at the counter, and offer to help you out out the car for large orders (more than three bags) or if you have small kids with you. That being said, we do not EXPECT tips on to go orders, but it is always nice, particularly if you are a regular customer. We try to learn people's names, special orders, and personal preferences, so when customer X forgets to specify something and then comes in to pick up, we can say 'You usually order this without onions, so we left them on the side just in case that was what you wanted..."

So I guess what I'm saying is that if you are a regular customer who is recognized and treated specially by the staff, or your order is large/complicated, the nice thing to do is leave at least a buck or two (I won't even insist on 10%). And if you want to BECOME someone who who is recognized and treated specially, tipping will pretty much guarantee it.

Ceannairceach Croi

I'm in Australia, and we don't tip. It's not compulsory or expected, but I will ocassionaly leave extra if I've had brilliant service. But most people don't at all.


I'd tip a dollar or two just because I know it'd make them happy. Unless they're super rude or something. Once at Chili's i got the worst server ever. I never complain about servers but this guy kept trying to persuade my friends and i to get some (alcoholic) drinks even after we made it clear that we were all very underage at the time. he took he sweet time taking our orders, bring them, and getting refills (now mind you i know this is usually due to being busy, but we could clearly see him across the room hitting on girls at the bar for 10 minutes at a time) he never brought my friend their water refills and when he came to our table, he always crouched down, put his arms on the table, and lingered way way too long. He got $1 tip.


I like how everyone here is all like "The server this", and "the server that" in replies to this thread... did even one of you think about the people in the back of the house? You know... those of us who slave over hot ovens to make your damn food?

Not sure how it works in other establishments, but I work for a family-owned pizza/pasta/sub/salad type family restaurant attached to a massive indoor arcade, which does both take-out and sit-down service. Any tips left on take-out here go SOLELY to the cooks, not the waitresses. The tips are set aside, and at the end of the night are divided evenly among the cooking staff (on a typical night we'd have two on pizza station, one on grinder station, and the "controller" who retrieved pizzas and such from the conveyor oven and sorted what food went with which order. Weekend night throw two more people on there.). Usually we were lucky to leave with enough money to buy a pack of gum... I do wish more people realized how tough it can be in a busy kitchen, and would recognize our hard work by tipping. I realize we do get paid more than the waitresses, but it's still nothing glamorous. I started at $8/hour, which at the time was only $.25 above minimum wage in my state. I get $9.25 now, but minimum wage has also jumped up to something like $8.50 here.


Since I work in a jail in a high crime rate city, and it can get pretty busy very quickly, we tend to order quite a lot of takeout. We never know when and if we are going to get a chance to eat, so we will place a large order and one person can run and pick it up. That way we can at least get something to eat while working. There are several places that we frequent, because we know the people that work there (no spit in our food), and the food is good quality for not a lot of money. We ALWAYS tip very well for take out for several reasons - Our orders tend to be large, and especially if there is a special order, I know it takes time to get everything right. The most important reason though - We know if we take care of the girls and guys that feed us, they will take very good care of us. We tip very well to "reward" them for the good job that they do and to help ensure we continue to get good service. Even the servers play a big role - making sure we have sides/silverware/napkins, making sure our orders are correct and bagged, etc. We always tip in cash, and we make seperate tips for both the wait staff and the cook staff. My opinion is, if it is somewhere that you frequent often, tip well for both sit down and take out orders. Waitstaff will remember you and will be willing to go that extra mile for you down the road. If it isn't somewhere you go often, at least tip 10% for take out if the service you received warrants it.

Book Bastard

Something else to consider: the tip line is there because it's just the way their receipts are formatted; they don't use a different one for take-out.

Then again, for me, it's never come up.. small town and stuff.


I'm so happy that we hardly ever tip in my part of the world. Here the EMPLOYER will actually have to pay the wages, instead of having people work for them for next to nothing and (half-heartedly) hoping the customers will pay their wages. :)

(We don't, unfortunately, have a general minimum wage; instead different minimum wages are determined for different fields of work through collective bargaining. Still, I'm happy to say no one here works for something ridiculous like a couple of dollars per hour.)

Former Ice Cream Slave

we had a a tip jar and tip line where I worked serving ice cream. sure, I didn't wait on anyone, but I did do something. I didn't expect a tip for every single order, but some orders were very long, and some involved lots of complicated requests, I felt that some types of orders did warrant a dollar or two in the jar.

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