Tips… the musical?

I’ve noticed a sudden influx of blog posts and articles in which the authors of said pieces openly explain why they don’t tip their servers. Since this is something that affects our little music and theatre community, as many of us are, were, and will be servers, hosts, bartenders, or whatever pays for what our art doesn’t, I’d like to address this issue briefly.

Why Tip?
(Per United States tipping culture. Other countries will differ… whether or not you do, and how much.)
tipsFirst and foremost, servers are not tipped because of the low wages restaurants pay. Restaurants pay low wages because their servers receive tips. One of the biggest arguments I hear for not tipping is that it “isn’t the customer’s fault the restaurants don’t pay standard minimum wage.” It actually is. If they were paid real minimum wage, meals would likely cost a bit more. Servers’ minimum wage in NYC is 5.00/hr, which is taken by the government in taxes at the end of a pay period, so tips are their full salary.

Tips are NOT bonuses for “performing well.”

Servers also have to tip out at the end of a shift. Bartenders, bussers, baristas etc. take a percentage of a server’s tips, and by proxy, a percentage from every table a server sees during a shift. If you don’t tip, your server is paying for a chunk of your meal out of pocket.

The Math
If you don’t want to have to think about the math of having to tip 15-20% (which is minimum for a server simply performing the basics, taking your order, bringing it to your table, checking up once or twice and refilling your water or coffee or whatever, whether or not you ask them to…), the easy way to figure it out is to simply double the tax amount that appears on your receipt. Its a perfectly decent tip, and it tells the server they did their job. If a server sees that you’ve tipped more than double the tax, it means they’ve done an exceptional job, and believe it or not, many of them actually give a shit.

Don’t assume it’s added. Sometimes in parties of 5-8 or more, a restaurant will add 18% gratuity, give or take. They will tell you, and it will show on the receipt. If it’s added, no tip is necessary (although it can be nice to drop a couple extra if it’s been AMAZING).

Try not to get offended when a server tells you that it isn’t included. If a policy states that 18% gratuity will be added to parties of 8 or more, and you have a party of 6 or 7, they will likely let you know that it won’t be included. They’re just watching their own asses, because no one else will. They aren’t being a dick. They’re protecting themselves.

Bad Service
Sometimes, every once in awhile, service won’t be as great as you’d like. Just know that they might be having a shitty day, or the kitchen is backed up, or they’re short staffed. Rarely are they just being an asshole because they don’t like you. Talk to a manager. Take care of it. Be patient. Leave a couple bucks at the very least to cover tip out. Done.

Basic Niceness
Be nice to your servers. Respect them.

Customers can be AWFUL.

If you actively try to be the one nice person a server gets to deal with every day, then our servers will be a lot happier, and will feel a little better about having to do this kind of work when many of them would rather be doing their thing, whether they are artists, singers, writers, actors, teachers, parents, or whatever it is they do, because (sorry) serving you isn’t what fulfills them. Serving is what allows them to do those things when they finally leave for the night.

Now go out have have dinner in the city, and support the artists who are likely to be serving you.



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