Survey: How Do You Really Feel About Restaurant Tipping?

Are you generous or a cheapskate? Have you ever not left a tip at all? Do you wish the whole practice would just go away?

Do you leave 20 percent every time?

What are your restaurant tipping habits? Do you tend to tip at, above, or below the national average? What number do you base your tip on? Have you ever “stiffed” a server? If so, why? And what method of tipping – automatic, voluntary, or added to the menu price – would you most like to see in a restaurant? We’re conducting a survey, and would love to hear your thoughts!

Tipping has been a bit of a hot-button issue of late. While it’s been so engrained into our dining culture that we barely even think about it, it’s actually a system that’s incredibly divisive among both customers and those who work in the dining industry. Restaurants all across the country have banned tipping (either moving toward a ticketed, pay-in-advance for the entire meal system, or adding the cost of gratuity into the price of menu items), and more and more are following suit as restaurant owners realize that oftentimes the amount of tip doesn’t reflect the actual level of service, and that in many states the base hourly wage for tipped employees is startlingly low. Some big-name chefs, including Tom Colicchio, have come out in favor of doing away with tipping, but very few have gone so far as to change their policies.

Even though it’s a complicated issue (chef Marc Vetri told us that “it’s too involved”), just about every chef has an opinion on the matter.

“My concern is always to see a slackening of standards once servers realize there's no incentive to perform that much better,” chef Kerry Heffernan told us when we asked for his opinion on restaurants abolishing tipping. “In most instances I don't see that wheel as being broken, so off the top my head I would say I would probably not want to see that as a guest.”

“This is a complex issue and one that goes to vast cultural issues,” chef Norman Van Aken added. “I have seen the weakness of [tipping] more than I have seen its strengths. I think it creates a neurotic culture in a place meant to be the antidote to that. The servers are too often made to feel an ebb and flow of self-value on each and every table. That is bad.”

Chef Jasper White feels that it would be "wonderful" to abolish tipping for two reasons: "It would be a more honest system with customers knowing almost exactly what they will be spending, and it would help us elevate the servers to a more respectable profession, as in Europe," he told us. "However, I think that Americans love to tip, and it could only be successful if a majority of restaurants abolished tipping at the same time." 

So what are your thoughts? How much do you usually tip? Take the survey below, and let us know!

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