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Old 02-08-2010, 02:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Time spent in restaurant and the tip

Does the time you spend at your table in a restaurant effect the tip you leave?

We were out the other night and after several bottles of wine ran out, we wound up just sitting there, picking at the left over bread and running our mouths. We didn't stay overly long, maybe 40 minutes after the meal had ended.

When it came time to pay, someone suggested we over tip our waiter because we had taken up time at the table when someone else could have sat and left a tip.

I've never really thought about this before.

Do you have an obligation to over tip because you have taken too much time at a table, therefore "cheating" the waiter/waitress out of another customer?

Or is it your right, since you paid for the meal to sit and have after dinner conversation until you feel it's time to leave?

What do you think?
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Depends on how packed the restaurant is while I'm verbally vomiting.

If someone else could have sat while I was yabbering, sure... I might throw in some extra.

If the place looks like a funeral parlor? Sorry, bub... you're having an easy night already.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Having worked in the industry, albeit briefly, I understand that if I stay at a table for a long meal, I am keeping my server from serving new customers at my table and from earning an additional tip, and I do tip accordingly. In states where the minimum wage for servers is less than actual minimum wage and tips/gratuities are a distinct part of their income, that can make a big difference.
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
Depends on how packed the restaurant is while I'm verbally vomiting.

If someone else could have sat while I was yabbering, sure... I might throw in some extra.

If the place looks like a funeral parlor? Sorry, bub... you're having an easy night already.
what he said...
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Old 02-08-2010, 02:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
Depends on how packed the restaurant is while I'm verbally vomiting.

If someone else could have sat while I was yabbering, sure... I might throw in some extra.

If the place looks like a funeral parlor? Sorry, bub... you're having an easy night already.
Pretty much this. If there's empty tables around, sorry I'm not adding extra for "holding up the table".
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The other thing to consider is that you've just downed a few bottles of wine. Wine is the biggest profit centre in the restaurant. You have more than paid for the table, regardless of how busy the place is.
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I love European dining for this very reason. Generally the table is yours for the duration of the evening. One of the best pasta experiences was in Salzburg where upon arriving at the restaurant we asked if we could be seated and how long until a table was available. The place sat no more than 30. We were told to come back tomorrow. Because it was our last night there we couldn't return. Shame too because it turned out it was a local favorite.

But here in the US, it depends on the place. There are restaurants that the dining experience is about 3 hours from start of seating to the coffee and check. While it seems like a long time, like a good movie, if it's good dining and good conversation, it will hardly seem like 3 hours.

I can say that any other place, coffee shop, small restaurant, I try to be considerate of the people standing at the door waiting for an open table.

I generally tip 20% as it is, so if it's crowded and we took up more time, I may tip a dollar more.
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'll just leave this here

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Old 02-08-2010, 06:19 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well, you also have to keep in mind that if the place is dead, your server might be cut, and they can't leave until you do. If I'm taking up a table for more than the "normal" dining time, yeah...I overtip. It's a "camping fee."


(I suppose I should also mention that I'm a server, which probably colors my opinion a bit.)
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I am not an after dinner sitter and talker. When I am out with my SO and/or friends, if we feel the need to chat we will move into the bar area or go somewhere else.

It does get annoying at times when you are waiting for your reservation ( at times 30+ minutes) while people have clearly finished their meals are just loafing taking up space.

I think there is a consideration factor not only in a busy restaurant to get it together and move on if not for the server who wants to close the tab out. (especially when the restaurant is turning on the lights)

Just not a sitter though.
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:54 PM   #11 (permalink)
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If the place is even moderately busy, I'll tip more if I do that. If I'd moved on in a normal period of time the server would've had an opportunity for greater income. If my actions cost him/her that, I try to make up for it.

That being said, if the service is good I usually tip 20-25% anyway, and if I'm in a small group that is planning on sitting around to chat I'll usually suggest we move over to the bar and do so, assuming it's a decent place that has a separate bar.
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:26 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
Depends on how packed the restaurant is while I'm verbally vomiting.

If someone else could have sat while I was yabbering, sure... I might throw in some extra.

If the place looks like a funeral parlor? Sorry, bub... you're having an easy night already.
THIS. Plus it depends on who's fault it is I was sitting there that long. I mean if the waitress/kitchen is slow I sometimes feel like not tipping at all. I still tip, but you know what I mean. If I'm taking up the space yammering on about nothing, then sure I tip a little more for the opportunity cost to the wait staff.

By the way, who else here tips 20% because the math is easier? heh
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:35 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I attend Alanon/AA meetings, and sometimes a group of us will go out after the meeting. These are usually Perkins/Village Inn kinds of places, and it's the slow time, 9-11pm. Some of us are eating a late supper, but for most it's just coffee and pie. The server is constantly coming back refilling coffee, water glasses, sometimes we're there for an hour or more on a five dollar ticket. I always tip extra, minimum of a couple dollars, especially if others at my table are being cheapskates.
On the other hand, I tip less if service is bad, but then usually don't stay as long either.

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Old 02-09-2010, 09:12 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Liquor costs should be around 17-20%, beer 22-25%, and wine 35-50%. Liquor is by far the most profitable, especially for "well" or "rail" drinks. Wine is tricky as the more expensive the bottle is wholesale, the less you can mark it up. Example: Hess Select; wholesale 10.00 on the menu at 25.00 vs. Leonetti Cabernet; wholesale 75.00, on the menu for 125.00. If you're camping and drinking wine, tip on the check including the wine at full price, especially if the waitron has recommended a great bottle (many people will tip on only 25.00 or so of the wine because it takes the same effort to open an expensive bottle as a cheap one). For taxes, your waitron is responsible for a percentage of total sales, which don't discriminate between food or beverage. This is really only a concern at high-end restaurants that have those expensive bottles. At Perkins... not so much.
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:25 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Does anyone else believe that the tip system in the US food and bev industry is a bad model? I wish that the servers were paid a regular (fair) wage and that tipping was removed from the server/customer relationship. I think it prevents people from remaining in the business and perfecting their craft, thus it's bad for the customers. I think the fluctuation in server wages interferes with making concrete life decisions (based on the job). I've also seen a lot of servers who were extremely irresponsible with their money because, IMO, of the fact that it is given to them every night in cash. They'd leave the restaurant with $300 and get home with $30 after a night of drinks and video poker to "unwind". If it came as a check every other week, I think they wouldn't dispose of so much of it.

Anyway, just a thought.

As for the OP, my tips are always based on the quality of service. I dine on my terms. If the conversation is good and we stay longer because of the ambiance, well we are more likely to come back - good for the restaurant and the server. We tend to request servers when we find a good one.

---------- Post added at 12:25 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:20 PM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
Liquor costs should be around 17-20%, beer 22-25%, and wine 35-50%. Liquor is by far the most profitable, especially for "well" or "rail" drinks. Wine is tricky as the more expensive the bottle is wholesale, the less you can mark it up. Example: Hess Select; wholesale 10.00 on the menu at 25.00 vs. Leonetti Cabernet; wholesale 75.00, on the menu for 125.00. If you're camping and drinking wine, tip on the check including the wine at full price, especially if the waitron has recommended a great bottle (many people will tip on only 25.00 or so of the wine because it takes the same effort to open an expensive bottle as a cheap one). For taxes, your waitron is responsible for a percentage of total sales, which don't discriminate between food or beverage. This is really only a concern at high-end restaurants that have those expensive bottles. At Perkins... not so much.
At the fine dining restaurant I worked at, we charged a straight markup for all wine of wholesale cost plus $9, for the exact same reason you described above. It doesn't cost any more to buy an expensive bottle, ship it, store it, serve it, etc. We got a lot more business because of that. People could get great wine for $50/bottle less than the restaurant down the street.
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:10 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I hate staying and sitting after all the food has been eaten. I'd rather walk around and talk if talking after the meal is desired.

Because of that I've never really ran into that problem. However, I've never thought about it. I usually tip around 20% anyway. Less if the service sucks.
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:30 AM   #17 (permalink)
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My tipping is never dependent upon how much time I spend in the restaurant. I care far more about the quality of service and usually add that to the standard percentage of the bill. Conversely, I've been known to stiff the waiter/waitress if the service has been bad. An example that comes to mind is the service was so bad at one of the local establishments near my Alma Mater that I tipped a mere thirteen cents just to round out the bill to an even twenty-five dollars.

But if the service is good, I've been known to tip a good 25% to 30%.
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:33 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Just a couple things: tipping because the kitchen's slow isn't really fair... the server is getting screwed because the cooks messed up, but guess what? The cooks are still getting paid.

If servers worked for a flat rate, and not tips...you'd see a pretty big change in the industry, I think. Less experienced servers, who are just working for minimum wage, probably aren't going to pay as much attention to you as someone working for your tip.

Back to the OP, there are certain situations where tipping a little more is very much appreciated. Camping at the table is one of them...having kids who make a huge mess is another (unless you take the time to clean up after them--and I'm not talking regular kid stuff. I'm talking "junior threw every single piece of spaghetti, plus croutons, on the floor.")
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Old 02-09-2010, 12:58 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Well the restaurant was very busy and so was the bar. We were friends who were parting ways in the parking lot so were just taking that time to enjoy each other.

Like many of you, we generally tip 20% too, the suggestion was to add $20 to that to make up for the extra time at the table.

I have no problems taking care of our server, I just didn't know when it changed from that to "renting" the table from the server.
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:24 PM   #20 (permalink)
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An extra $20 for forty minutes would be awesome, I'll admit... but it's not something I'd ever expect. An extra five is good, an extra ten would rock. An extra twenty means you just made my night, and I want to give you a hug.

Just saying, though, that depending on the time of day, sitting at a table for a significant amount of time past what's "normal" means you're either a) preventing that table from being sat again, or b) keeping your server there past when they'd be able to leave.

And forty minutes isn't that big of a deal... five or ten extra would've done just fine, but please don't tell your friend that...the world needs more awesome tippers
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Old 02-09-2010, 01:38 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by CinnamonGirl View Post
If servers worked for a flat rate, and not tips...you'd see a pretty big change in the industry, I think. Less experienced servers, who are just working for minimum wage, probably aren't going to pay as much attention to you as someone working for your tip.
I wasn't considering a minimum wage. In Europe, serving is an lasting profession and people make a good wage doing it. Here, it is considered a pass-through job while you finish school or whatever. In some places in Europe, it is an insult to leave a tip.

The other difference is that, in Europe, dinner IS the event for the night, rather than dinner and a movie. You are supposed to be there all night. That's why Americans get so upset about service in Europe. They are so conditioning by being put through the Applebee's cattle rails that they can't just sit back and recognize that they don't have a movie in 43...42 minutes. It's okay to get comfy in your seat.
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Old 02-09-2010, 04:29 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Having worked in the industry, I'd say that yes - the longer you spend at the table, the more you should tip. As long as you're sitting at the table, your server must be attentive to your needs, even if you don't think you have any. You're still occupying his time. As long as you're sitting in his station, he's working. Even if the place isn't very busy, the hostess will seat another party in someone else's station to even out the workload unless they specifically ask for a particular server, so he may be missing out on either another tip, or going home early. As a former manager, I can tell you that a daily part of my job was to decide who got to leave early; and at what time. Restaurant owners don't like paying 5 servers to watch 3 tables.
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Old 02-09-2010, 05:01 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I overtip no matter what.
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Old 02-09-2010, 05:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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20%, unless i get a real asshole; then he gets nada...
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:14 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Several years working miserably in food service while I tried to be an actor taught me some serious rules for when I myself dine out.

1. Tip generously: your server is almost surely underpaid and overworked. A good general principle is 20% for good service, 15% for mediocre service, and only tip below 15% if your service really, really-- and I mean really-- sucked for no reason. A server would pretty much have to give me the finger right in my face or badmouth my religion for me to stiff them altogether. If I am a regular someplace, and know and have a good relationship with the server, I may tip over 20%. (Also, when I was single and sometimes tried to pick up cute waitresses, I would tip over 20% the first couple of times I dined there to try and get associated with a pleasant experience: worked maybe 50% of the time....) I also never tip less than $5, unless my bill was less than $5, or unless the order was extremely minimal (e.g., a 'sit-down' coffeehouse, where a large beverage and pastry may come out to be more than $5, but one is intended to sit for a long time, and it is not really a venue for "meal" type food).

2. Take time into account. If you just got in before closing, tip a little better, because you're prolonging their day. If it's busy and you've been sitting there shmoozing and drinking tea for two hours, tip very well, because you may have cost them several customers. If it's dead and you've been sitting there shmoozing, you could get away with not tipping extra on the basis that you haven't cost them customers, but it would be nice of you to tip a little extra given that you're all they have. Likewise, if you're dining on a national holiday, when one might conceivably want to be enjoying vacation, tip extra: chances are they didn't want to be there, and they can't afford not to be. Yes, salaries are time and a half on national holidays, but believe me, that in no way makes it worthwhile. Nobody wants to work on holidays who can afford not to.

3. More = more. If your orders were complex, you made changes, you asked for something off-menu, you were part of a large party, or you ordered a zillion things...tip extra.

4. Trouble = $. If you brought a crying baby, a tantrumy toddler, an ill-mannered senior citizen, tip extra. Likewise, if your date was a bitch to the server, tip extra. If your skeezy friend hit on the server in the most pathetic and disgusting way, tip extra. If you belatedly realize that you snapped at the server for no reason, or otherwise were an a-hole, tip extra.

5. Crappy swag does not equal money. Do not attempt to substitute for lack of a tip by giving your lucky key ring, that cool lighter you won at skee-ball, the foul ball you just caught at the game, the fuzzy dice from your car, your hilarious wind-up dancing penis toy, or other such items. That's just making it worse. Awesome swag can equal money: the iPod from your Awards Gala goodie bag is definitely acceptable as a substitute for your $25 tip. Other kinds of swag depend greatly on the situation. When I delivered pizza for a living, college students who had scraped together enough couch money for a pie, but not for a tip, would sometimes tip me with a little nug of weed: that will work. More borderline, but also acceptable: the guy who should've tipped me $20, but instead tipped me $5 plus a Romeo y Julieta Cuban cigar. For the most part, though, just tip: don't try the substitution. BTW, sexual favors are not an acceptable substitution unless you are extremely hot (hotness must be by acclaim, not by self-approval).

6. If you don't have a lot of money, and can't tip very well, tip as best you can, and make up for it by being as nice as possible: calm, understanding, pleasant, and friendly are often in short supply from customers, and their appearance in you-- plus, perhaps, a genuine word of thanks-- can really help make up for a more meager tip.
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Old 02-09-2010, 08:19 PM   #26 (permalink)
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I always tip more than I should, even for shitty service. No idea why.
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:05 AM   #27 (permalink)
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20%, been there done that, got a buck for a $30 order that was promptly delivered. Assholes love to let their kids tip while they hide away.
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:14 AM   #28 (permalink)
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As a former server, I'm pretty tough on servers. I expect things to be done right. That doesn't mean I don't tip more for not allowing the table to rotate, but, if you can't do simple tasks without me asking you twice, then you're not going to get that much to start with.
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Old 02-11-2010, 11:29 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Again coming back to relaxing in a restaurant that's less than full, and this came up in another threat about tipping, being in Ontario I'm used to the servers making a half decent wage (currently $8.25 going up to $8.90 in less than a month).
So I feel less inclined to tip extra while my servers having an easy night in compairison to servers in states that are getting paid a couple bucks an hour.
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:57 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I'm a student. That is a big factor for me. I don't have enough money to be going out let alone spending extra. That being said, if the service was really good, or the waiter/ess was really kind and attentive without being overbearing, I usually give them a couple dollars tip. If the restaurant is overly crowded and there are people waiting for a table, I don't stay to chat. If the place is dead, I'm not tipping you just for hanging out. I'll probably order a few more drinks, and some cheesecake. But I'm not paying just for hanging out at a table, no.
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