Most servers in the United States only make an average of 2.13 an hour, and are dependent entirely on tips, so please be sure to learn the appropriate way to tip. 10 percent for mediocre/poor service (don’t just stiff them, chances are they have to tip-out other people but be sure to ask for the manager to talk about the service), 15 for moderate service, 20 and above for outstanding service.
What makes for different levels of service you ask?
Here’s some scenarios in relation to the tipping scale above:
The restaurant is near empty and you are one of few tables in the dining area. You see your server hanging out nearby chatting and playing with their phone, just standing around doing nothing. If it takes them 10 minutes to come back over to you to give you anything, then I’d understand the want to leave just 10 percent. If they completely fuck up everything and forget things and screw up your order so bad, then maybe maybe I’d understand not wanting to tip. To be honest, I wouldn’t want to leave a tip either.
But if you see your server doing things such as cleaning, or restocking, then chances are they are not just ignoring you. Chances are they are getting ready to end their shift, or maybe the restaurant is closing. As long as they still provide you service and check on you regularly, 15-18 percent is good.
If your server has a lot of tables near you, chances are they are busy. If you see them running their asses off, give them some slack. You’re not the center of attention, and please be patient. Be sure to ask for everything you might need all at one time so you don’t run your server.
My rule of thumb as a server is to check on the table at least 5-6 times, including before the meal/during appetizer, during the meal, during dessert, and even after they’ve paid. I try to read my customers. I will ask if they want refills when their glasses are half-way empty, not only because I’m required to do so, but because I know it’s good service. But that does not mean I am a mind reader! If you need something, or something is wrong, please tell your server!! We can’t fix something if you don’t tell us. And don’t be afraid to do so. Even though we joke about ‘spitting in food’, NO SERVER ACTUALLY DOES THAT! We are not that stupid. We will not jeopardize our jobs by doing that.
If your server is very attentive to you, please be sure to leave a larger tip. If they take really good care of you, and maybe even engage with you, a larger tip is always appreciated. I like to think that people judge their tip on the basis of how friendly the server is along with other things. I always try to be friendly and attentive :)
Please know that once a server puts in your order, it’s out of their hands. It’s in the cooks’ hands now. The server can only do so much to make sure they put in your order properly.
If you have any sort of food allergy or anything, PLEASE TELL YOUR SERVER!! Please be sure to READ the menu and if you have questions, ASK!!! If you need to know dietary information, ask if there is an information booklet, or if you can even talk to the manager about your dietary needs. And please don’t say you’re allergic to something if you’re not just because you really don’t like a certain item. That makes you look like a douchebag. But also know that if you make a lot of modifications to an item, that might piss off your server and the kitchen just a little tiny bit and thus cause your food to take longer, especially during a rush.
Please also be aware of your surroundings. If you had to wait before being seated, and there are a lot of other tables, please know that your food will take some time. So please don’t get all fussy about how long you’re waiting.
Same goes for the environment of the restaurant. Please do not take your anger out on the server because there are crying kids. If the host was rude in any way, don’t take it out on the server. If you didn’t like the music, don’t take it out on the server. If the restaurant was out of something you wanted, do not take it out on the server. DO NOT TAKE THINGS OUT ON THE SERVER WHEN THE SERVER HAS NO CONTROL OF WHATEVER SITUATION THAT MAY BE.
Please do not get mad at the server if they ask a lot of questions. They are trying their best to make sure that you, the customer, has a great experience.
Please please please please please do not stay at the table for an extended amount of time once you are done. The server’s income is entirely dependent on how many tables they can “turn and burn”. If you sit at the table for an extended amount of time after you finish, the server is losing money. As a rule of thumb, it’d be a good idea to throw down a dollar for every hour you stay, more if you feel generous. Or if you cash out with a credit/debit card, and know ahead of time you’re going to hang around, go ahead and leave a much much larger tip in the tip line to make up for the time that the server lost.
Don’t expect free things, please. I keep seeing this on corporate chain facebook pages, such as Olive Garden. If it’s your birthday, DO NOT EXPECT TO GET ANYTHING FREE!!!!!!!!!! It doesn’t hurt to ask, but don’t get all butthurt just because they don’t do anything for birthdays. If you want to treat yourself to a dessert, then by all means do so. If your server is feeling generous and really likes you, maybe just maybe MAAYBEEEE they might give you something themselves. I paid for a glass of wine for a man once for his birthday. I also wanted to offer a newly wed couple a complimentary bottle of wine, but instead bought them dessert. But if a server does do something for you once as a kind gesture, please please please do not expect it to happen again next time. I can not stress this enough.
Final note, please just be a considerate human being. Don’t treat your servers like trash. We’re just trying to make a living.