Wherever I Go

I’m at the cigar shop I patronize when a customer nicknamed Doc asks me a question.

“Say I’m in a restaurant and the owner’s serving me.” Doc asks. “Do I tip him?’

“It depends,” I say.

“On what?”

“If no waiters are working but there’s busboys I’d still leave a tip.”

“’Cause the busboys get some of it.”


“But if there’s no busboys?”

“Then I’d say no.”

“Well listen to this,” Doc says. “I’m eating lunch in a place, no waiters, busboys, nothing. The owner served me. And after I paid up she had the nerve to ask me, “Where’s my tip?’

“How’d you respond?”

“I told her that my coming in there was my tip.”

“Correct answer,” I say.

“Well the lady got a little pissed.”

“Some people.”

Doc takes a draw on his cigar and watches the smoke drift toward the ceiling. In the background some show called Pawn Stars is playing on the television.

“So I never went back there. “ Doc says. “But when I walked past the place yesterday she ran out and asked why I haven’t been there in a while. So I told her.”

“Good.” I say. “Maybe she learned something.”

“So you get questions like this a lot?” Doc asks.

“Wherever I go.”

“That’s when you get when you say you’re a tipping guru.”

I reach over and pull a galley copy of Keep the Change out from underneath the golf magazines on the coffee table and toss it to him.

‘Well you can read all about it here,” I say.

“Cool,” Doc says. “Does that mean I don’t have to buy a copy?’

“You wish.”

84 thoughts on “Wherever I Go”

  1. Waiterrant Fan says:

    Yep – that’s one of your new occupational hazards Steve.

  2. Jimmy Rogers says:

    I’ve never met you and for some reason I still think of you when doing complex (read: non-mathematical) tipping calculations! You’re stuck in your rôle for life I’m afraid!

  3. Kate says:

    Always wondered how this plays out in other service industries. For example, my hairdresser owns the salon. Does that mean I shouldn’t be tipping her?

  4. Clay says:

    I had a similar dilemma. I was getting haircuts at a shop where the owner was cutting my hair. My wife said you don’t tip the owner for haircuts, but you would tip other employees if they cut your hair. I continued to tip, because once you get into the habit, it would be weird to stop.

  5. John says:

    Its getting so that the tipping system in this country is looking more and more like the bribe system in third world countried.

    If you don’t grease everyone’s palm, don’t expect to get anything done right.

  6. Reader says:

    I saw you in the LA Times yesterday!

  7. Vincent Eagan says:

    I tip servers. But when I am at a buffet – I have to get my own plates, my own silverware, and my own drinks – then it burns me up that I am expected to tip. For WHAT?

    So I was at such a buffet last year. I did not tip, because as I said – I was not “served”. The next time I went in there, they actually had signs on all the tables proclaiming that tips were gladly appreciated. This was like less than a week later and I felt like they had looked out the window and saw me coming and ran around placing those things on all the tables.

    I left a dollar. I still don’t see why I should. When one of them comes to my table and offers to fill my plate for me, I’ll think about being more generous with my tip.

  8. Mike says:

    huh, I hadn’t realized this rule. I assume this is in your book somewhere? I figured the tip was given as a reward for good service no matter who provided it. Why is the owner an exception?

  9. thatgirl says:

    i always tip at buffet’s. i see how hard the bus-people work in cleaning up everyone else’s mess. people leave dirty plates and food all over the table and they also have to make sure the food stations are stocked and clean. not being “served” doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t servicing you or your table still.

  10. Stephan says:

    To Vincent: My understanding has always been that at a buffet you tip, just not as much as you do at a full service restaurant, a dollar or two per person is the norm. Because the server is still (one assumes) refilling your beverage, taking away used plates and helping you if you have a specific request. They can service a huge amount of tables this way, so the mini-tips still augment their sub-minimum wage. Sort of the same rules for calling in take-out to a full-service restaurant. The host or bartender still had to pull your meal together and bag it, get your napkins and utensils, so you give them token tip.

  11. Bob Dobbs says:

    Thanks for a good post. As for all the tipping questions, it’s the price of fame. And being gracious about it is a good way to get the goodwill to keep that fame going. Face it, you’re a restaurant and you’re always open :-). But I think you were right to tell the guy that the restaurant needs paying!

  12. Wilhelm says:

    I think you’re wrong about not tipping when an owner is also the server. It probably means that they really need it.

  13. Megan says:

    About the tipping at buffets…the one we often go to does pay the bussers more than minimum wage (I asked when my son was looking for a job). Also, I don’t know about other buffets, but at this one the bussers only take used plates/cups. They don’t bring drinks, get special orders or anything else. And just the opposite of Vincent Eagan’s experience, this locations USED to have signs on the tables specifically saying NOT to leave a tip. The last time we went there we left no tip, as usual. And this time we certainly wouldn’t have even if we usually did, because our plates were left to pile up the whole time. But a busser followed my husband from the table asking quite loudly, “What, you don’t tip your server?”

  14. Daria says:

    My husband, The Highway Patrol Officer, always gets asked police questions (how do I evict someone? how do I get a restraining order?) and long stories about getting pulled over by a police officer, even if it happened over 20 years ago.

    Oh, and congrats on finishing your 2nd book!

  15. Deus says:

    I can understand not tipping an owner – a tip is to make up the difference between a livable salary and the sub minimum wage that restaurant employees make. The owner is not being paid that sub minimum wage, they are making money off of everything (or most everything, at least) sold. As such, buying a meal is the tip for the owner.

    However, to go beyond that and consider tipping as something done solely in recognition of good service, then firstly tips aren’t necessary because no one is depending on those tips, they’re just a little extra that’s nice to have. In that situation it’s more acceptable to both tip less than you normally would (since you don’t need to fill in that pay gap) and do so only if you received service that you felt was deserving of a tip.

    Now, this can be applied to actual tipping as it exists in the restaurant industry today. Assume an average tip of 15-20%. Now presume that the 15% is enough to make up for the pay gap. That means that the 1-5% extra tipped on average is given not to fill in the pay gap, but for good service. Thus there is a 15% tip that is something of an extra service charge to give the employees a “livable” salary, and then the rest is pure, actual tip. So then if you were being served by the owner and the service was exemplary, I’d say leave a tip, but on that scale of 1-5%.

  16. Baldemar Huerta says:

    Whatever. Just throw in your
    dollar, and let’s move.

  17. echo says:

    I’m a Chinese,I’ve never been to the U.S. If you were in China, generally you don’t leave a tip, even in the biggest city, like Beijing or Shanghai. The most of waiters are not allowed to accept tips. That is to say, even if you left a tip, they can’t take it.
    It’s very different to American Culture. We think that salary is all a employee deserved.
    It sounds like we’re kind of stingy but,I can’t tell whether this habit good or bad.
    All my foreigner friends feel good about it when they don’t need to tip anymore in China.
    So,I want to ask what if you don’t need to tip one day? Will you feel good about it?

  18. Phil says:

    Interesting discussion, but I’m wondering how in the world you can know who the owner is, either at the restaurant or the hair place. When I go to get a haircut, there are several people snipping away, and I don’t see anybody wearing a badge that says “Owner.” Or are you supposed to ask??

  19. MC says:

    My understanding is that you do not pay the owner of any establishment a tip because as they own the place, they are not surviving off of the tips like waiters, busboys, hairdressers, etc.

  20. ElectricLion says:

    I always tip whoever serves me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a waiter, manager, bartender, or owner. I even tip the carhop at Sonic. Anyone who brings the food out to me. If the busboy waited on me, he’d get the tip. It doesn’t matter who it is. I’m not tipping so the waiter can pay his rent (although I acknowledge that he needs the tips to do so). I’m tipping to reward good service and encourage more of the same. And my reward is that every place I go regularly, I get good service from people who are happy that I’m their customer. Oh, and I tip 18-20%.

  21. Inquisitive says:

    100 dollar meal
    20 dollar tip
    that is a lot of money for what is actually done – compared to a teacher’s salary, for instance… for instance if the waiter takes care of 10 tables during an evening
    maybe the rise of prices that the disappearence of tipping would entail might actually be worth it for the customers, and tipping would start to mean something as a sign of recognition of good service (?)
    Where I live, restaurant workers are paid wages they can live on – all the same, I tip 10% if I’m not absolutely disgusted with their work

  22. Jessica says:

    I think that the whole tipping policy is crazy. It’s weird having to depend solely on others generosity to make ends meet. And the fact that servers have to use their tips to supplement other front of the house employees pay so owners can pay less than minimum wage is just wrong. In no other industry would someone say , “Your secretary really helped you out so why not give them 1/4 of your salary.” I think a lot of people think that we actually get to keep that 20%, but it actually works out to about 13% after tipping all the people we have to tip. When you get a tip that is less than what the required tip out is you actually lose money…it costs you to wait on bad tippers. The tipping system is also confusing to people because it is unclear where to draw the line. Everyone has a tip cup out these days, from your Subway sandwich artist to the guy that hands you a paper towel in the bathroom. It almost belittles the importance of tips to people who get paychecks that say “this is not a check”.

  23. Mookie says:


    I believe that you are wrong to advise the Doc not to tip the owners. They are entitled to work hard as the FOH associate. Guess what I read your Waiter Rant book at the bookstore a month ago while sipping the coffee. Yet, I do not always purchase the books, but reading is priceless…

    For 20 years, I as the deaf cook have seen too many occurrences at the various of restaurants. Thanks Heavens, I work for federal government…

  24. Sara says:

    I tip, whoever, owner, bus, waiter, anyone. Not just in restaurants but other places, tattoo/piercing stores, massage salons, even if it’s the owner that provided a service for me. If it’s the owner of a restaurant it’s to thank them for the good service they provide. If it’s something like piercing/tattoo or massage I’ll tip because they often don’t charge more then the minimum. It’s a credit to them for the education they spent their time and money on as well as good service.

  25. gat says:

    I think whomever gives the service should get the tip. At my job if the owner gets a tip, he splits it with the workers. At a buffet my standard is a dollar a person 2 dollars for babies in high chairs. At full service places it’s at least 20%. If I see a server is in the weeds and still finds a way to keep me happy it’s 25% because I know how hard it is to work that hard and have people leave them almost nothing for sub par service when they were usually working harder than normal.Same thing with delivery drivers. I take into consideration how much gas is at the moment, how bad weather is, and how bad do I NOT want to get dressed,go out, stop watching my show/movie. To me it has nothing to do with how much I spent as a rule, but how much does the convenience mean to me.

  26. Topochicho says:

    This is just plain silly. This whole tipping malarkey is getting out of hand. If you need a slide ruler and an employee roster to figure out your tip, YOUR DOING IT WRONG!
    So if an establishment is family owned and run, I can stiff my waiter cause one day he may get a pay off when the business is sold? Should I ask my waiter if he participates in the employee profit share program just in case he has stock in the company? I am supposed to tip a barrista at coffee shop, but not the person working the window at Burger King? But the person at Burger King not only took my order, but boxed my fries, poured my drink, bagged the whole thing, threw in some condiments, and ALSO had to lean out the window to give my food while I was STILL IN MY CAR. WHAT!? Why aren’t these people being tipped!? Plus they usually make less than barristas, often with less benefits. So whats the problem? Would it help if we called them windownistas or burgernistas? Or, just maybe… just maybe you are just being silly about who and when you tip.

    Tipping rules simplified:
    Rule 1. You tip for services
    Rule 2. You DON’T tip for services NOT rendered.

  27. Wild Child says:

    Of course, it’s ok to tip the owner if you really want to, right?

  28. Molly says:

    Yeah, it’s always interesting when I go out with people who I *know* are more well-off than I am, but seem utterly clueless about tipping.

    Dinner with friends a few weeks ago, and we split the bill. I tend to tip well (~30%) unless something went really wrong. I put in my tip, everyone else puts in theirs; then, someone counts how much is there, and decides the waiter is getting too much (despite my saying I wanted to tip generously,) so he pulls out some of the cash and puts it in his wallet!

    Then, last night, I’m out with several girls from work and the owner of our company. We all put in, and again, someone starts the “I think we left too much…” dance. The owner mentioned that we’ve left about 20%, and over half of the girls all say “Oh, yeah, that’s way too much!” I got a little indignant (hey, we were at a fancy-ish place, and the waiter had been absolutely fantastic) and gave them what-for. They were all pretty surprised to hear that waiters have to tip out the bartender, busboy, etc., but at least they left the money where it belonged.

  29. Dei says:

    I often have trouble understanding why you should tip. I mean, serving is their job and if they aren’t really great for what they do for a living, why should you tip?

  30. Slave to the Masses says:

    I worked for an owner-operator at a pretty nice seafood place. Early in the week, there wasn’t much bar business, so he would run the shift from the bar and wait on the few people who came in. We had a nice regular who came in almost every day for lunch or dinner, and he’d tip the server/bartender great, but would never tip the owner. I’m pretty sure he thought it would be insulting to tip the owner, but it was never my place to say anything about it. In this case, the owner had been a founding partner in a regional, upscale steakhouse group and had sold his interest in that group to open this nice bistro. The regular had also been a regular at the upscale steakhouse and knew the owners background pretty well.

    It’s my opinion that you should tip everyone, but in this case, I sort of understood how the regular might have felt like offering a tip would be insulting to the owner, who wore Hermes ties and a different Rolex each day to match his outfit. You never heard anyone scream about not getting a tip louder than this owner! Eventually, he told the regular never to come in again, and that guy told everyone he knew, and one thing led to another and the place was locked out 6 months later.

    Most managers at chain places are forbidden to take tips and will politely refuse them. I have known owners to refuse tips from their guests in a way that lets the guest know that the owner is interested in making the restaurant great for his patrons and doesn’t need to be tipped for it. Having seen all this, I can understand how the practice of tipping an owner can be confusing.

  31. FREDO says:

    Topochicho I am with you.

  32. Mr. Orange. says:

    So you can stiff the owner on a tip, but what if the establishment pools its tips? Aren’t you stiffing the busboy, host, runners, etc?

  33. ges says:

    Top… wow, sounds like you’re pretty stressed out. don’t you think there’s room in the blogosphere to discuss the finer points of tipping?
    I’ll bet you’re the type who looks for any excuse not to tip…

  34. Jitu | News Uncle says:

    hiiii Interesting discussion, but I’m wondering how in the world you can know who the owner is, either at the restaurant or the hair place. thanxxx for the above information.

  35. Anonymous says:

    doesn’t matter if he/she is an owner or an employee–good service is good service. owners don’t always make what you think they do

  36. Fahara says:

    Reading stuff like this, I can’t help but feel so grateful I live in the UK. Tipping culture here is still very confused, but we do at least know that all our waiters/servers/busboys etc earn minimum wage before tips. When I was a waitress I regularly earned three times my salary in tips, but it was a bonus – not something required of punters. The line in the UK is – exceptional service deserves a decent tip, the mere act of service does not. In the USA it must be so hard to decide….companies should pay their employees decent wage so they don’t have to depend on tips!

  37. Alan says:

    Come on Steve…, the old line about not tipping the owner doesn’t apply any more. There are a multitude of reasons why an owner could be taking tables. Just because they own the place doesn’t mean they are drawing a steady or reasonable salary. Food costs and operational costs can be devastating. Owners are the last person paid in a business. They may need the income to put food on the table
    (or keep one’s favorite restaurant afloat) – just like anyone.

    Tipping is for services rendered. Period. Take the ownership/payrate out of the equation. All you are doing is justifying the rationale from the dialogue in “Reservoir Dogs” “diner scene”. I am not an owner, I am a server, btw, and I tip based on service – not title.

    @Vincent and others who chimed in about Buffets; Why do you put a price tag on whether I bring food to your table or you go to a buffet line and get what you want and bring it back? Is that really worth twice the tip? “ServICE” is not simply “servING”. There are a myriad of details that go into making sure you and your group have an enjoyable experience. Who gets your beverages, refills them, clears your dirty plates, straightens your settings, folds your napkins, handles your special requests, etc. Someone is making sure your buffet experience is pleasant – be it the waiter, busser, bar tender, whoever, and that is worth the same customary gratuity as if they brought you the food themselves. If you are not happy with the servICE, that is another story, and adjust your tip appropriately, but as someone said earlier, put the fucking tip slide rule away…

  38. Jan Whitaker says:

    Around here, Western Mass., even places where you order at the counter and buss your own dishes have a tip jar. I always leave a little change but I really don’t feel like I’m getting what I call service with this kind of set-up.

  39. Nanashi says:

    Topochicho: You are making a national generalization based on information that is local. Additionally, comparing baristas to fast food workers is insulting to baristas, who create the drinks they then “bag”. If you can’t tell the difference between two baristas’ drinks, then either you have very prescriptive cafes (perhaps Starbucks?), or a weak sense of taste. Not only that, but often the fast food worker didn’t even box the fries or pour the drink, a machine did. Certainly they did not prepare the oil, bring it to temperature, slice the potatoes into fries, and then carefully fried them to your exact request.

    Phil: If you go to a place more than a couple times, and actually speak to the staff more than is necessary for the actual transactions involved, you can quickly learn who the various staff members are, including the owner.

  40. Canuck says:

    My god, people…

    You’re = You are (i.e. You’re doing it wrong.)
    Your = it is yours, you own it.

  41. Suz says:

    @Topochicho – “Would it help if we called them windownistas or burgernistas?” – That was pretty effin funny!

    @Nanashi – Pardon me for being Plebeian, but baristas aren’t practicing Nuclear Fission, they are JUST making COFFEE.

  42. Alaskawaiter says:


    Tell all of your Chinese friends that crap don’t apply here in the U.S.

  43. Alaskawaiter says:

    When you tip you’re tipping the service. Everything else is irrelevant. Doesn’t matter if it’s the owner or not.

  44. Krupo says:

    @echo – you brought back memories of trying to tip a server in China, after a particularly special meal.

    To try and bypass the “I can’t receive this restriction” I pointed out that was was my tradition – and heck, the tip was even in foreign currency (mine), so if you didn’t want to ever convert it, you could treat it as a souvenir from a foreign land.

    I somehow managed to get the girl to accept it, and that’s when I felt good – no, it was weird not to tip.

    Your gweilo friends are cheap. 😉

  45. Rod says:

    After working and running restaurants for over 20 years, my rules are simple. You tip servers, bartenders, hairdressers, and cabbies. These people are working mainly for the tips. Servers and bartenders get taxed by the IRS whether they received a tip or not, so by NOT tipping you are actually taking money from them. I refuse to tip a “barista” or others when they are paid a good wage and not the $2 hours they pay servers/bartenders.

  46. Hotel Burnout says:

    If you like Waiter Rant, check out my book “Confessions Of A Hotel Burnout” on Amazon for just $2.99

  47. DPC says:

    Some of you are overanalyzing this and shouldn’t even be dining out. Just stay home if you have to analyze how cheap you’re going to be.

    You’re tipping for services that accompany your meal, whether or not your server is the owner is irrelevant.

  48. AmericaninItaly says:

    Tipping is for personal service, not for giving the owner more profit. Maybe the owner of the restaurant should hire a waiter and be part of helping out the economy.

  49. David Justice says:

    Maybe in some bullshit upscale bootleg french establishment you can get away with it, but what about the mom & pop diners?

    in this tough economy, many owners have had to scale back employees and wait tables on their own.

    sometimes, those tips are the only thing keeping these restaurant afloat.

    P.S- i enjoyed your book thoroughly and polished it off in less than a week. However, seeing your interview on the today show completely ruined any further interest in your future book(s). You came off as a smug republican doofus, your tone of voice and mannerisms really did you a huge disservice. Your innermost thoughts really were such a joy to read, its unfortunate that they dont translate to real life. I’d laugh in your face if you ever tried to stare me down, lighten up a little pal

  50. Klynne says:

    I waited tables a very long time ago. For reporting our tips, the owner’s accountant told her to advise us to report 8% of our sales as tips, to be cool with the IRS. As a waitress, back in the day, I was paid two dollars less than minimum wage. So my wage was not anything, I had to rely on myself to make decent money; being nice, and providing good service. It was a small restaurant so we had to bus our own tables, do the set up between patrons, and what not. We did have a hostess, and I learned to tip her and she would bus my tables, and take care of anything I needed. There were some jerks I worked with that would not give her a dime. She was a smart girl and figured it out. She did not have to pay taxes on what I tipped her, but I did not care. She turned my tables over and had them ready.

    So, as for buffets, I do tip. The staff still refills your drinks, and takes away the used plates. Unless things have changed, they still have to base what they report in tips based on their sales.

    As a patron, I always tip 20 percent. I think I have only stiffed a person once, and it was because the waiter was a totaly dick. I can understand crappy food (chef’s fault), slow service (usually understaffed) and cold food (again understaffed). I can usually sit down in a restaurant, and surmise what the situation is. I am pretty patient, but what I can not tolerate is a rude server. I did that job for 5 years while going to college. Yep, I was on the five year plan.

    Oh,and if I order food to go, I always tip. The person that answered the phone, and took the order, has to put the order in, and make sure you have what you asked for. So, it does not matter that you are not dining in, they have provided a service.

    Nuff of my stuff.

  51. Srmichae says:

    Echo – We tip our servers in American because they usually make approximately $3-$4 less than minimum wage, in most states anyways… as was pointed out in Waiter Rant. Tipping the server is supposed to show them your appreciation. Sorry, but like Krupo said, your friends are cheap? <3

  52. Sharon Shaw says:

    Just read your book. It is a terrific read. I am pleased you escaped from god and hot broth to become a writer.

  53. Alexis says:

    Tipping can be a very awkward situation. I am a server, so I might have a biased opinion.

    When I go out to eat, I always tip 20 percent unless the service was just AWFUL. You never know what type of day your waiter or waitress may be having. For all you know, your server’s dog just died and he’s just having a rough day. So in restaurants, I typically 20 percent.

    I will usually tip in buffets as well. For some reason, people tend to be much messier in buffets; perhaps it’s because each person has six plates. I always notice how hard all of the bussers are working and, ultimately, they’re the ones that should be getting the tip.

    If the owner of a restaurant were to be serving me, I would still tip them as well. If they are still doing the work of a server, then they deserve a tip.

  54. de says:

    I always tip, doesn’t matter if it’s the owner. I wouldn’t dream of not tipping. If the owner is waiting, he/she probably needs it, and when I waited, we paid taxes on 18% of our sales, regardless of what tip we actually got.

    And yep, tip a few bucks at buffets & coffee houses. What’s a couple of bucks? Not much on top of your bill but it adds up for the workers, who need it.

  55. Sarah says:

    Hey Steve i’m not sure if your going to read this but I love the book. Its so hilarous and inspiring. You should totally make a movie off of it it would make the book extremely popular and it would be really funny.

  56. savan says:

    I’m not from the USA but as a server and waiter would gratefully take your tipping system over ours.. Where I live we leave tips if there is a certain believe that it is worth it; service, food, athmosphere and if price to quality ratio is up to a certain standard. However there is no rule about the amount you tip, I have, in the 5 years I’ve been waiting tables, NEVER had a tip above 10%.. so please send some Americans our way please!

    About the tipping the owner; in the restaurant I work we all split the tips fairly however our owner is not included in this system, all the tips she makes go to us, the servers, the kitchen and dishwasher.. so do remember; sometimes tipping the owner is actually tipping the kitchen and the other staff

  57. ServersView says:

    Having worked in the service industry, we had to buss and serve our tables by ourselves.. As servers we depended on those tips to make our pay, otherwise we made 4.60 an hour, (that doesn’t necessarily pay the bills). But our owners and management were no able to take tips, it was policy. I’m surprised she had the nerve to ask where her tip was.

  58. Waiting says:

    Occasionally, when we are really short staffed and have a line around the building, my manager will take a couple of tables. They don’t do this to make money but to clear the line and take some stress off of the already over-worked servers. Whatever tips they get, they automatically give to the busboys or hostesses. In fact, they aren’t even allowed to keep the tips if they wanted to.

    Because they aren’t keeping the tips themselves that doesn’t mean that people should be off the hook. They still provided a service and should be rewarded.

    It’s really no ones business whether or not the person really needs the tip or keeps the tip. The fact is that they provided you with the same service that you would have otherwise received, therefore you should tip them the same.

    Etiquette, schmediquette.

    I think it looks bad when you withhold something from an owner that you would give to someone else. Maybe they sunk their life savings into a restaurant of their own because they wanted to wait tables for themselves. Perhaps they did this because they love waiting tables and married a chef. By not tipping them you are kind of pissing on their dream.

    I agree with Canuck: too many people don’t know how to use you’re & your.

    I also agree with Topochicho: a service is a service. Tip people who provide you with a service… This includes buffet workers who have to clear an average of 20 dirty plates from a party of four’s table.

  59. Andrew Glasgow says:

    @Vince Eagen: I’ve never seen a buffet where one got one’s own drinks, one’s own plates, bussed one’s own tables, and had no interaction with the staff other than when you paid. Are you sure you’re not thinking of a salad bar at Wendy’s?

    If someone brought you a drink, took your dirty plates away, brought you silverware if you needed it, and brought condiments to your table that weren’t there to begin with, you got served, though certainly less than you would get at a full-service restaurant.

    @Echo: In Soviet China, server tips you!

  60. texserver says:

    What if this is a new restaurant and the owner is the server and is serving to make some money because they are not taking money out of the restaurant they are using to “profits” to reivest in the restaurant to keep it running until it gets established, therefore the owner probably isn’t even paying themselves a wage but just living on the tips. Stop trying to complicate things and stop being cheap just tip the server and move on.

  61. paulo1 says:

    Stop writing in the present tense. It’s terminally wrong and ultimately unsustainable.

  62. Michelle says:

    I always feel badly when I don’t tip the owner. Now I am absolved of guilt! Thanks for your help!

  63. jeano says:

    i agree.. managers arent allowed to keep tips anyways. usually my manager would take tables when its busy under waiters numbers.

  64. Jessica Fernando says:

    Judging by the way you ended this story, you think of this guy as cheap.

    What I don’t understand is why you insist on tipping (a random social construct) instead of working on getting a better minimum wage and benefits for waiters? Or just a set tip? Something slightly more constructive than guilt tripping people for not leaving x amount of money.

    It’s not that social traditions don’t have value – it’s certainly a good thing to do and an honorable thing to do, to help somebody out because their job can’t cove their bills and their government hasn’t made any move to help them – but what’s the point of insisting people think of this as a cause without taking the extra step to make tipping necessary (calculated with the bill) and campaigning to have a country in which life is more affordable?

    In Hong Kong, where I’m from, at a fancy restaurant the tip’s about 10%. It’s calculated with your bill so there’s no confusion. At smaller places people are really surprised by even the idea of tips… I was at a small congee place in Kowloon City with a friend and just for leaving a small tip the people insisted on giving us dessert. It’s just not custom here. However, we have affordable healthcare and education…

  65. Reader says:

    A “once a month” post would be good to keep your readers coming back. That probably wouldn’t take too much time 🙂 hope you’re okay stranger!

  66. Kyle from Aussie says:

    G’day Steve from Australia. I recently finished reading your book, ” Waiter Rant”, Up until a few months ago I had never even heard of the book or this site until my teacher (I completed Certificate 3 Specialisation: Food and Beverage course at my local hospitality/tourism school recently) told my class about it. One of the best reads ever. Thanks to the knowledge I gained from your book and my teachers I gained a better insight as to what the hospitality industry is all about. I will be following your website closely from now on. Thanks Steve and I look forward to reading your next post.
    Till next time

  67. Trackback: Quora
  68. Adrian says:

    Damn. I just finished reading the entire blog.
    Has only taken me two slow days at work 🙂

    Off to Amazon now to buy the book!

  69. static says:

    i wish that the waiters tipping book was required reading in american schools. no one knows shit about who and when to tip, and its different from place to place. did you know that carhops at sonic can accept tips? probably not!

    what you have to think about in restaurants is, are the people helping you being paid minimum wage or above, or are they being paid a servers wage which is well below the minimum, and relying on tips? if you’re not sure, for instance at a buffet, dont be afraid to ask. i went to a buffet recently and we asked our server if she got minimum plus tips or if she was paid the sub standard server wage and relied on tips to make money. wouldnt you know, this restaurant was paying her 2.13 an hour and telling her to over report her tips because she hardly ever got them. many people think you shouldnt tip your server at a buffet, and at some buffets you may not need to. but buffet servers still keep your table clean between visits to the buffet, keep your drinks topped off, and most importantly and sadly, still GET PAID 2.13 AN HOUR. so leave a couple bucks for chrissakes. if you’re not sure, its not improper to ask.

    honestly after asking her about her situation and finding out that she made no money i wondered why she still worked there, but that was a discussion for another time and place.

  70. Sol says:

    Wow, Paulo, pedantic wanker much?

  71. JoB says:

    I really miss your posts… keep them coming.

  72. TechnoBabe says:

    Nice post with your viewpoint regarding tipping. I think that your advice in this post was the way it was many years and still is in better restaurants. But in small delis or cafes where owners are wearing all the hats they depend on tips. Times are tough and being the owner of a small establishment is worth a little extra to help keep them open. Just my opinion.

  73. Bob Dobbs says:

    Are those crickets I hear? Still checking in every few days.

  74. coffeesnob says:

    Waiter, I miss you! Eagerly awaiting your next post.

  75. HRS says:

    Where is the next post ??

  76. thatgirl says:

    Hope you are okay, Waiter! Please don’t keep us waiting too much longer…

  77. Terry says:

    I’m having waiter rant withdrawal. HelP…….. Please post soon and update us on the new book that I eagerly await.

  78. Anonymous says:

    Dear Waiter: We miss you. Please post soon 🙂

  79. Luxian says:

    Dear Waiter: We miss you. Please post soon, if you have the time 🙂

  80. Future SLP says:

    I think he met a lady– that’s when the blog usually goes quiet! Go Waiter!

  81. MJW says:

    I think maybe Steve accidentally looked in the mirror while doing his patented stare…

    Hurry back. 🙂

  82. Adrian says:


  83. Richard Perry says:

    Come on, man — let’s have a new post, ok?

  84. V. Malaise says:

    Recently I had a waiter come to our table and announce that tips stood for “To Insure Prompt Service” and the expected tip should be 20% of the total bill. We got up and left. I e-mailed the owner to complain and got a $50 gift certificate. It’s neither my fault or concern that servers usually get paid minimum wage.

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