In New York City, I feel that 20% should be the baseline for a tip at a restaurant.
Let me preface this by saying
there will be times where the service provided is worth more than 20%,
and there will also be times where the service provided is not worth 20%.
“But Kelsey, how am I supposed to know how much to tip?”
I’ll try to explain.
Let me break down where all this tip money is going.
It looks like a lot of money that I might make off one table, right?
Well listen, Linda, of whatever tip that you leave, I pay out around half of that to assistant servers, bartenders, barbacks, food runners, and sometime even hosts.
Maybe you take for granted the people that fill your water
or run your steaks up a concrete staircase and get it in front of your face while it’s still hot.
Maybe you don’t notice the people who check your expensive leather briefcases
or who have to build a huge ticket of 8 individually customized martinis.
Maybe you didn’t realize someone has to sweep up the food you drop
and the drinks you spill
and someone else polished the glass you accidentally broke
and the silverware you accidentally dropped.
Maybe you don’t notice them because
they don’t smile at you
or laugh at your crass jokes.
But do you realize you’re shorting them when you don’t tip appropriately?
Oh, and they might even have kids they’re trying to support financially just like you.
When you tip poorly, you cheat my entire team.
I never liked team sports but I love my restaurant teams.
Ok back to where the money goes-
53% of the tip that you leave
goes to my paycheck and
I kiss about a third of that goodbye
So at the end of the day,
the actual money I make
isn’t anywhere near the 20% that you may or may not think I deserve.
I want to believe that people who don’t tip appropriately just don’t know.
So I’m trying to tell you.
Be better tippers.
Maybe the system is flawed?
I’m trying to think of any other profession where
I, the professional, provide and complete services
but the customer, who could be an amateur in my profession,
gets to decide what I will be paid.
I think of that scene in THE DEUCE where
Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers a fantastic monologue
in response to some punk that gives her a hard time because
he can’t afford another round on his birthday.
People argue that when they go to a restaurant, I should treat them like a guest-
well, here’s the thing,
this is my job.
You have to pay me for my job.
A night out at a restaurant is
where I work
and where you are a customer.
The customers of your law firm pay you and your team
what your time is worth, don’t they?
Don’t you get to decide what your price is
and don’t you have to reach a formal agreement on what you’ll be paid
before you go to court?
Well I expect the customers of my restaurant to pay me and my team
what our time is worth.
Except we don’t get to decide what the price of our service is
and there’s really no formal agreement on what I’ll be paid
before you sit in my section.
So now do you understand why
I get pissed off when I know the services my team gave,
the services you happily took,
are worth at least 20%
and you left 15?
Do you get it?
And for goodness sake-
round up if you’re paying with a freaking corporate card.
Does it hurt that much to be a little generous with company money?
or eat dinner at home
or continue to tip poorly
but that makes you a bit of an asshole in my mind.