Three students at Koerner's Pub
February 6, 2020
2 mins read

How to Adult: Tipping in food settings

How to Adult

To preface, I didn’t have much financial freedom before I became, well, an adult.

I had no job. No bank account. The only money my wallet contained was:

  1. Pocket cash from my parents (infrequent)
  2. Royalties from publishing Gothic stories (very infrequent)

Throughout elementary and high school, I preferred to spend my free time alone: reading books and composing sonnets. I never went out to explore the city’s food joints on my own or with friends.

As such, tipping had nothing to do with me back then; it was something my parents did, something I had no reason or opportunity to do. And something, I confess, that I didn’t take the effort to learn.

So I was rather confused when I ate at a restaurant with some friends for the first time after high school graduation. Feeling like 17th century Europe waiting for the Enlightenment, I simply tipped the same amount as my friends. I, all the while, mulled over this question: Why did I even have to tip, anyway?

Maybe this is something you’ve wondered about, too.

I’ve since learned that food service employers often decide their employees’ wages based on the assumption that they will also get tipped. The amount in tips that employees take home, then, can greatly influence their income. (Keep in mind, too, that Vancouver is no cheap place to live.) Thus, practicing good tipping etiquette is something we should consider—especially when the service is, by your standards, above and beyond.

Suggested guidelines for tipping

Tipping amounts can vary from person to person. I try to follow the guidelines from credited posts like this one from Business Insider, which recommends:

Bar: $1 tip per drink, or 15% of the bill

Coffeehouse: extra change

Food delivery: 10% of the bill, $2 minimum

Restaurants: 15% for adequate service, 20% for exceptional service

Satisfaction and tipping

I generally follow the above tipping guidelines, but, like French verb conjugations, I do have exceptions. I suppose how much I actually tip depends on how I feel about the service.

Positive: When the ambiance is pleasant and the service puts a smile on my face (e.g. the server is friendly and cracks jokes, or food is delivered on time), I follow the above guidelines...and may even give a bit more. After all, the server or delivery person earned it!

Negative: When the service is, well, terrible (e.g. the server gives off a cold, aloof, Lady Macbeth vibe, or the wrong order is delivered), I still tip—just not as much as I usually do. I then ask myself why I was unsatisfied with my experience.

In the case that your dining or food delivery experience isn’t all that sunny, jot down your complaint on the receipt, or voice your concerns to the staff member or manager directly. As for how much and whether or not to tip, it’s up to you to decide in these situations.

When in doubt about tipping, remember these 3 things:

  1. Tipping is a way to reward great service, and, often, employers pay their servers with the assumption that they’ll also get tips.
  2. It’s okay to tip differently from your friends.
  3. You don’t have to provide a tip if the service wasn’t satisfactory. Voicing your concerns will help the business know what they can do to improve their service.

Next time you’re eating out or waiting for food to be delivered, keep these tipping tips in mind!