Guest post: The Tipping Point: The Art and Science of Tipping

I’m very grateful to Richard Bracke for reaching out to me via email and asking if I’d be willing to have him guest post.  He admitted to being a fan of this blog, and thought he could provide a different, yet related, point of view.  His idea was to write a post on the art and science of tipping.

I’m sure many of you have stressed over the proper tip at one point or another; I know I have!  Richard provides good information in his post below.

First, here’s a little information on Richard.  An avid writer, father, and foodie, Richard Bracke loves to try out new restaurants in Charlotte, and especially enjoys Spanish tapas accompanied by a nice Catalonian Cava.  He currently blogs for the website, EZ Cater.

Richard’s “tips” (pun intended, folks!)


You’ve just finished a great meal and the waiter has returned with your bill and card. You pick up the pen and start to scratch an amount on the dotted line with the precursor, “tip”. But you pause, “what’s the right amount?” you question. “Twice the first number minus one? Times the whole amount by 0.2? Round up to the nearest whole number?”

Image courtesy of:

If this sounds familiar, keep reading!

It’s obvious to say that the topic of tipping has long been a source of contention amongst families, friends, and wait staff everywhere. The origins of the act itself seem to be just as ambiguous as the process.  The term “to tip” appears to have started in the 18th century as a way for patrons of an establishment to encourage better service and quality of their goods.

So while the general consensus of tipping is a little subjective, there are a few things to keep in mind the next time you find yourself in the position to give a tip. The first is a generational gap. Depending on which generation you come from, your preconceived ideas about how much to tip may vary.

While the industry standard in previous eras has been anywhere from 5% to 10%, the current accepted amount is about 15-20%.  Why the change?  Well that takes a little math. 

The average server generally makes a much lower per hour wage than the minimum wage (which varies by location).  Restaurants typically pay the wait staff at a reduced hourly wage because the money they take home in tips off-sets the state’s minimum wage rate.  On any given night, a server could have anywhere from three to ten tables, sometimes more, sometimes less all depending on the volume of the restaurant. Assume each bill was about $60 dollars; this is what their income for that evening would look like.

 As you can see the slight increase from 10% to 20% makes a huge difference in the nightly totals a waiter or waitress brings in. Literally that extra 10% could mean the difference between making rent, and not making rent. It’s also important to note that any problems you had with the preparation or taste of your food should not be translated to your server’s tip, they are simply the conduit, not the source. Be sure to voice your concerns with the wait staff so they can let the cooks and kitchen know, but don’t let your distaste with the food affect your server’s tip!

The choice of how much to tip in any situation is of course up to you, the patron. If your wait service was less than stellar you should, of course, vary your tip accordingly. While, giving a bit extra in the tip shows you really appreciated the great service, and gives the employee an incentive to keep up the good work!

In closing, I suppose the important thing to remember here is that we’ve all had a day where we weren’t at our best, so regardless of whether a good tip was “earned” or not there is one thing you should always remember, a little generosity goes a long way in making someone else’s day! And really, it’s always better to err on the side of more, rather than too little.

So even if the accepted amount is 20% leaving 25% is always acceptable too!  🙂


Thank you, Richard, for sharing your thoughts on tipping wait staff.  It is indeed a critical part of the dining experience, IMO! I’d love to hear readers’ points of view.  Please comment if you feel strongly about tipping or if you have a method of your own.



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9 thoughts on “Guest post: The Tipping Point: The Art and Science of Tipping

  1. I like to think that my tips between 20 to 25% are generous. I give more for breakfast and lunch because the bill is less but the amount of service is the same. In 10 years of waitressing my daughter reported that 15% is a slightly above average tip in the evening.
    Recently there have been some letters to the editor and call-ins to talk radio (from waiting staff) that feel they are entitled to at least 20%. I think it is an unappreciative attitude. After all it is a tip and you are not obligated to give anything.


    • I’m glad you wrote this, Jay. I hadn’t really thought of the fact that breakfast and lunch are lower bills, and therefore higher tips may be appropriate. However, I do feel that I’m a pretty generous tipper as well – partially because I was a server, but primarily because my dad set a strong example for me.
      I agree that an “entitlement” attitude is unfortunate. There are so many great things about waiting tables, I would hope servers could see the numerous benefits (beyond the $ tips) and would work hard to get the most out of the overall experience – remembering that hard work does pay off!
      Thanks for offering your opinion and insight, Jay!
      – Ker


  2. “It’s also important to note that any problems you had with the preparation or taste of your food should not be translated to your server’s tip,”

    While I agree with the “taste” of your food, the preparation has A LOT to do with your server.

    Your server can put in your order wrong, bring out obviously wrong items or wrongly made items that are obviously not correct, forget items, drop your food on the floor, and forget to put in your order entirely.

    The one that happens the very most to me is CONDIMENTS that are served on the side. If your server brings out let’s say a burger with fries, which let’s say you order a side of mayo, a side of mustard, and a side of ranch(for the fries), if she or he brings out the food, she or he can notice if they aren’t there, it’s obvious. It’s not covered up by anything. If you don’t bring out the food, you can STILL bring out the condiments ahead of time.

    So sorry, you are wrong about the preparation part, because most of the issues are caused by your server. That is the GOD’S TRUTH and you know it!


    • Thanks for your comment. You highlight a good point. Servers should be responsible for checking that orders are prepared correctly. I certainly find it frustrating when I have to make a request multiple times and then wait for my meal to be delivered as ordered. I think many restaurants concept of “team serving” causes some of these problems. I don’t necessarily agree that “most of the issues are caused by your server”, but the server does certainly play a role.


      • ” don’t necessarily agree that “most of the issues are caused by your server”, ”

        WHY when MOST mistakes you can notice WITHOUT TOUCHING THE FOOD if you serve the food and you can also put in the order wrong.


      • With all due respect, we may have had very different experiences throughout our dining adventures.
        Most of my (personal) less-than-stellar dish experiences were with either bland/”safe” choices (risk of the basic focus of this blog), or with improperly cooked meals. I don’t feel that I can expect my server to know that a mid-rare filet order is actually prepared med-well. There is a chance the server input the wrong order, but generally the server confirms my order – so there is a level of trust there.
        There are times when, as you mention, a server misses details in the order that he/she should verify prior to delivering a dish. However, in my experience, that is the exception to the rule. You may indeed have had different experiences.
        I may decrease gratuity if the server does not do his/her job, but I likely won’t dock him/her if the chef doesn’t prepare the meal properly. Especially if the order is corrected and redelivered in a timely manner.
        I appreciate your point of view, and I hope you understand mine!


      • I do understand your point of view, but for MY experiences, usually I have condiments forgotten, wrong side dishes, wrong entrées, wrongly prepared food like bbq sauce not on ribs when I didn’t say I didn’t want the bbq sauce on the ribs just because I asked for 2 EXTRA sides of bbq sauce(an assumption the server made on their part a couple of times that has happened), things like potato skins delivered without bacon that the menu stated it had bacon and I didn’t say I didn’t want bacon, pickles on the plate when I ordered no pickles(they still put them on the plate for some WEIRD reason making my fries with icky picky juice(yuck), wrong cheese(bleu cheese instead of cheddar on an OPEN-FACED burger, some servers don’t take the orders correctly by assuming like this happened 3 times at Red Lobster where I ordered their side salad that comes with cucumbers, tomatoes, croutons, and onions without cucumbers and tomatoes. The servers all 3 of them left out the onions and croutons ASSUMING I wanted it plain when I NEVER ONCE SAID I did. I order let’s say cheese fries that come with ranch with honey mustard as well, a lot of servers ASSUME I wanted just one condiment as if no one can ever get more than one condiment.

        My point is, we(my husband and I) have had A LOT of DUH mistakes that could have been caught *BEFORE* the server left the kitchen. Honestly, there are MORE things as I have mentioned that are OBVIOUS to the EYES WITHOUT TOUCHING THE FOOD than their are items that you can’t determine just by looking. I have mentioned a number of them.

        THAT is what I am trying to say. I have NEVER once talked about things you cannot see like a filet or a steak unless it appears red and bloody obviously if I ordered it well done, which normally wouldn’t happen. Most issues are obvious and that IS the GOD’S TRUTH! I am just guessing you have never had a wrong side dish or wrong entrée or missing condiments? We have and the most things I have problems with is missing condiments. We also have had problems with wrongly prepared food that’s obvious like the issues with bbq sauce not on the ribs. We have had a number of times as well wrong side dishes, missing side dishes as well. I guess you haven’t experienced all of the DUH mistakes like that, have you? Most of the issues have been with our OWN server.


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