Tip your servers and cooks, please

Published 11:34 am Thursday, March 27, 2014

Those who carry trays and scribble on those little palm-sized “guest check” pads for a living, tips often make the difference between making rent or sleeping on your bestie’s couch. Again.

Here’s another challenge for waiters and waitresses who wait on tables — and callbacks from other job opportunities. The best “tip jobs” are in places with high costs of living and rat-race dynamics when it comes to the best gigs.

The folks at Square Inc., a company that runs a service in the growing field of mobile payments at restaurants, hair salons and more, say Chicago is the most generous city in the U.S. when it comes to tipping. Fans of Da Bears tip 63 percent of the time, with the average tip at 16.7 percent, or about twice the Illinois state tax rate of 9.25 percent, according to a study in February.

Tied for a close second were Denver and Austin, at 62 percent. Denver residents tipped the highest percentage of any city studied, at 16.8 percent. Down the line of the top 10 were Portland, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Tampa. 

Now, granted, as with all studies not conducted by a public entity (such as a university), the devil of those numbers is in the details. Square only studies those 10 cities, based on the number of their customers. Mobile technology is great, but those who live where the pace of life is slower tend to stick with human, hand-to-hand contact when it comes to paying for food, a haircut, an oil change, pack of gum, etc.

As a product of the barely-middle class, I’m still learning this whole tipping thing. I usually whip out a calculator to make sure I’m doing someone right who really “gets” customer service. Fifteen percent is the acceptable minimum, folks. More restaurants are calculating percentages between 15 and 30 percent and putting it right there on the receipt, which is mighty helpful.

While we’re at it, I’ll offer this as food for thought. We always tip the person who brings us the meal, but never the lowly-paid cook. Remember the cook, dagnabbit, even if you have to pull them off to the side, since they’re often not included on the list of people who can share in tips. They sweat and toil over those perfect blends of herbs and spices that put you in the restaurant booth in the first place!

With enough tip cash to go around, one doesn’t have to live amongst millions of other humans to enjoy good service. And besides, Da Saints have beaten Da Bears twice in a row anyway. 

Danny Barrett Jr. is the assistant managing editor and he can be reached by email at danny.barrett@vicksburgpost.com or by phone at 601-636-4545.