“Do I tip?” is a question I’m frequently asked when processing take-out orders. My response, of course, is always “up to you”, but really, picking up your own food doesn’t get you an automatic exemption from tipping duty. At most establishments, the house asks for a percentage of servers’ tips and this money is put towards, among other things, kitchen bonuses, and broken tableware. It is generally five to six per cent of a server’s total revenue, but can go as high as nine per cent. That means that for every $100 of revenue, a server owes the house a minimum of $5.50, and when a customer doesn’t tip on take-out, a server still has to pay his or her dues. So, when you get your $50 order to go without leaving a tip, $2.50 comes out of my pocket. This might not sound like a lot, but it all adds up.
To be fair, there is a lot of rude wait staff that do not deserve a penny but, for every surly server, there is another who is more than happy to assist customers in any way possible. Please remember that whether you dine in or get your food to go, we cannot control kitchen efficiency. What we can control however—a smile, the speed at which an order is packaged, and whether or not little extras go into the bags—is tip-worthy.
Gerardo Diaz is Toronto’s gayest server, or so he says. He has over a decade of experience working in some of the city’s busiest restaurants.