To Tip, Or Not To Tip: That Should Never Be the Question

This past summer I bartended to support myself through an unpaid internship, I came to rely heavily on tips, as my hourly base pay was only $2.83. After this experience, I never tip less than
15 percent at dinner, always tip 20 percent or more if the waitress goes above and beyond, and base my bar tips on how expensive my order is (i.e. $4 bill gets a $2 tip, $8 bill gets a $4 tip, etc.).

My tipping habits may be costly, but after waitressing and working behind a bar, I know how challenging customers can be and how frustrating it is to work tirelessly with little to show at the end of the night.

I asked Rita Gates, a sophomore and waitress at the Allen Street Grille, what factors she thinks play a part in whether or not customers tip well and here are her top 9.

Gate’s Good-Tip Factors

1. Amount of drinks consumed (With every drink, generosity grows!)

2. Time of the year (Christmas time and New Years Eve equal mega bucks.)

3. Home football games (Football weekends, tips are almost always paid in cash because the people who come carry cash only – woo!)

4. Quality of service

5. If you talk to a customer about his/her day, his/her child who attends PSU, or the sweet tattoo on his/her calf (People don’t expect personal acknowledgment when they come out to eat so they appreciate anything above and beyond!)

6. If the customer once was a server too (They understand your pain.)

7. If you’re a good-looking young man or woman (One father left my friend a $100 tip on a $32 bill to convince her to date one of his sons because she’s a good-looking blonde.)

8. If you wear a low-cut shirt or tight pants (I think this one is self-explanatory, especially in a college town!)

Being generous by tipping shows waiters and bartenders that you appreciate their services. “For drinking, I usually do a dollar a drink,” says Finance senior, Christina Lerch. “You just know to tip. It’s just polite,” agrees a senior management major Jennifer Kelly.

Gates has dealt with some interesting scenarios at the Grille, and we had to share some stories.

A funny Q&A with Rita about tipping incidents:

Kiersten Ferno: Have you had problems with students not paying or tipping?

Rita Gates: At the beginning of each semester a young college couple will come out and get a 3-course meal and then try to pay with Lion Cash. We 100% don’t accept Lion Cash so it always results in the boy calling his mom or dad and asking for their credit card number… I always have to laugh.

KF: Has anyone written anything funny on a receipt instead of tipping?

RG: “Some people write nice things on their receipts! I had a person write ‘thanks for taking care of us!’ I also had a someone come in and write ‘#URhot but really what are you doing tonight?’ on the bottom of my receipt once. And others have written a paragraph of complaints on the back describing a bad experience or an unusually long wait. It’s a restaurant – things happen, and I just try to be nice through situations like that.

KF: Any odd tipping habits you’ve noticed?

RG: This happens multiple times a night and I still don’t understand it – a bill will be $56.87 and someone will leave like $10.48. It doesn’t even out the total amount to be $xx.00 and isn’t exactly 20% either. So weird!

KF: Has anyone not tipped you even when you’ve worked extra hard for them?

RG: Just to prove a point, I did have one person leave me three cents once because their steak came out cold. That wasn’t my fault, and when stuff like that happens, managers will comp the food so the customers don’t end up paying for it anyway. You anticipate customers will leave you a tip for helping them out and your hard work …but nope – three cents. Not even real pennies… it was paid for by credit.