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Published: Sunday, 6/2/2013 - Updated: 10 months ago

TO THE NINES

Here are some tips for handling gratuities

RONEISHA MULLEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

You’ve savored your meal, sipped your wine, ordered the bill, and now comes the hard part: figuring out the tip.

You know that your waiter/waitress only makes a few bucks an hour. In Ohio, minimum wage for tipped employees ranges from $2.93 to $3.93 per hour. What you don’t know is how to convert the quality of service he/she provided into a dollar amount.

And what if you order takeout? Are you supposed to tip for that too?

It seems as though this flexible figure stumps many diners. Here are a few things to keep in mind when determining a tip.

1. Spread the wealth. Most people consider the general rule of thumb to be 15 percent when it comes to tipping. We talked to a few local waitresses who agree, but say that the amount should be upped to 20 percent if the server provides a more nuanced service, such as explaining menus, assisting with wine, and anticipating guests’ needs.

2. Leave a tip, even if service is poor. Smaller tips send the message that service was not up to standard, servers say.

3. Tip at buffets. Your waiter/waitress still brings and refreshes drinks and clears almost three times as many plates. In these situations, it’s not inappropriate to leave a lesser tip, such as 10 or 15 percent.

4. There’s no obligation to tip on takeout orders, but for larger or complicated orders, curbside service, or home delivery, a minimum tip of 10 percent is appropriate, experts say.

5. In instances where a meal is complimentary or an item was taken off the bill, remember to tip for those items as well. Just because you’re not paying for the items doesn’t mean the server shouldn’t be paid for his/her services.

6. Factor in your party. If you’re dining with unruly kids or needy guests, or your table creates a mess, keep in mind the extra work that those situations may cause for your server and tip accordingly.

7. Don’t blame the waitress. She doesn’t sear every steak and mix every drink. If your steak is undercooked or your drink is too strong, it’s not her fault. Don’t hold it against her, just kindly ask for another one.

8. Keep in mind that your server will probably have to share tips with other members of the wait staff, including a bartender, bus boy, and/or hostess. In such cases, it’s best not to tip solely on the performance of one crew member.

9. Your server is human. It takes a lot to remember the needs of all of the diners he/she is waiting on and mistakes are possible. Be patient (but not too patient) and understanding. Certain things should be automatic, such as refilling drinks and checking in on the table periodically.

Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: rmullen@theblade.com or 419-724-6133.



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