Ten years ago I waited tables part-time during college. Back then, receiving an 18% tip was a compliment.
Now, 18% is the new 15% when dining out.
Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman says she recommends leaving an 18 to 20% gratuity for good service. She adds, “While some people tip pre-tax, the average is to ‘tip up’ based on the entire amount.”
Gottsman admits there are times when even 20% doesn’t seem like enough. For instance, a $10 breakfast bill would mean a $2 tip.
“While $2 is correct by etiquette standards, you can always leave more,” she says. Gottsman told me she sets a minimum tip of $4 or $5 for smaller food bills at full service restaurants.
Dining solo? Don’t feel obligated to tip extra.
“You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable leaving a smaller tip because there was only one person at the table and your tab is not as much as it would be with multiple people,” says Gottsman. If you do feel uncomfortable, try avoiding the issue by sitting at the counter.
And if you’d rather step up to the bar, Gottsman says tipping $1 per drink is okay. Just don’t tip less when ordering something simple, like a beer. “Tipping the bartender [your] change seems a bit cheap,” Gottsman says.
Your servers and bartenders rely on your generosity. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 an hour. It has been frozen at that rate since 1991.
So, remember these tips the next time you leave a tip!