Wednesday, March 23, 2011

tipping out

You're a good tipper right?  You're a generous individual who appreciates good food, service, atmosphere, etc.  You may have just experienced life changing service, your day was brightened, there was playful banter and yet somehow every single possible need was deftly handled by your server, you almost didn't notice him/her except when you needed something, there it was.  So, you leave a large tip.  Where does it go?

Every restaurant is different but the theory is that the more 'support staff' a server has at their disposal (bus people, host/hostess, floor manager, bar back, food runner, etc.) the more they will tip out.  The range is anywhere from 1.5% to 5% in fact there is tell that a restaurant in town, that will remain nameless for now, takes the tip completely.

Most places base the tip out on server sales, which means that the size of your tip doesn't affect the amount tipped out.  The more you give, the more the server directly taking care of you gets, but if you give nothing, the tip out still remains (read: your server pays to serve you).  Now this is no fault of the guest, sometimes the service sucks, and ultimately your money belongs to you.  The servers understand this fate before signing up.  This is merely meant to be informative.

The only time this becomes very important is with very large bills.  You may be a large party that has racked up a $500 bill, or perhaps you're like me and you're just a little gluttonous and your table for two can reach into the hundreds of dollars as well.  Now is when you should consider the tip-out.  Let's say the average is 3.5%.  Of that $500 bill your server will pay $17.50 whether you leave a dime or not.  So when you think a $20 is enough be aware that the person who just took care of your unruly large group (a topic for a later post) is getting $2.50.


  1. On that note, also to be informative, many restaurants will put a cap on the tipout, meaning if the server has to tip out 3.5% of their total sales, this amount will max out at a pre-determined amount ie. $30. Otherwise no one would choose to serve, and there would be a surplus of cooks/bus-staff looking for jobs because they would make more in tips then the servers would.

  2. Thanks for the comment! The example you outlined is very interesting. I've been serving for several years at numerous restaurants (everywhere from corporate, to fine dining, to casual) and I've never heard of this type of tipout. I'd be very interested to know where you've encountered this?

  3. Personally I've only ever experienced this once, and believe it or not, it was at an East Side Mario's in London. Never in Stratford, at any restaurants or bars that I've worked at(and there are quite a few).
    The maximum tipout there was $25

  4. was wondering if you had investigated the tip out dilemma in stratford. The industry average is betwee 3.5 and 5, and there is at least one restaurant in town that demands 6% plus a 3% on the servers credit card tips. toughts?