Dig Baton Rouge

Cash is King… Tips on Tipping

By Randee Iles

For those who have never worked in the service industry, tipping can be somewhat of a mystery, and for those of us who have waited tables, nothing feels worse than a $60 tab with a $5 tip.

Next time you go out to eat, use this tipping guide to make sure you don’t shortchange your waiter.

1. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.

In Baton Rouge most waiters make about $2.13 an hour for everything they do, and that is because the industry relies on tips. On top of that, there are many restaurants that require their waiters to “tip out,” meaning a certain percent of the bill goes to the bartenders, sushi chefs, bussers, and more. An average tip for good service is 20%, but you’re welcome to tip more!  If you don’t tip, not only are you hurting the waiter’s income, but they might also end up having to owe money to tip out for your meal.

2. Tipping to go

Everyone has seen the creative tip jars at the front of the register when you go to pick up food.  Contrary to some people’s belief, these aren’t there for decoration. Usually the person who hands you the food took the time to make sure everything is correct and bag it. While that doesn’t seem hard, they are giving up time that could be used to wait tables instead. A courteous tip for a to go order is usually 10-15%. Don’t be that guy who leaves nothing.

3. Tip your bartenders.

Like waiters, bartenders also rely on tips as their income.  Whether it’s free drinks or they’re just handing you a beer, it is still crucial to tip your bartender.  If you open a tab, it is courteous to tip 20%. If you pay as you go, you should tip $1-$3 each drink, depending on the price.  Do you really want the person making your drinks mad at you?

4. Cash or Credit?

When a waiter gets a cash tip, they can just put it in their pocket, but when there’s a credit card tip, it needs to be entered into the system. Because the credit card tip is accounted for, it gets taxed, just like a waiter’s paycheck.  Basically, when you tip in cash, that’s more money that actually goes to your waiter. Another downside to credit card tips is that there are a lot of restaurants where the wait staff does not get their credit card tips until their paycheck. No one wants to wait a week for the money they made that night.

5. Not the best service ever?

A lot of times people will reduce their waiter’s tip when there is something wrong with their food, whether it’s cooked wrong or just taking long. A key thing to remember is that the kitchen’s mistake is not the waiter’s mistake, so your frustration should not be taken out on them. If your waiter is busy, and running around like a chicken with its head cut off, their tip should also not be deducted. I understand you need more water A.S.A.P. but if you see your waiter is busy, don’t get upset.

Unfortunately sometimes we do get that lazy waiter with an attitude. In the case of bad service directly from the waiter, you should still never tip less than 10%.

6. Discounted meals

Either you found a great 50% off coupon, or you got a gift card to your favorite restaurant. Even if you’re not paying full price for your meal, the meal still costs, and the wait staff is still dedicating their time to you.  When your $50 worth of food only costs you $10 dollars, it is still courteous to tip 20% based on the price before the discount.  Plus, if you’re spending less on your food, you should have more money to tip!


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