Tips on tipping from takeout to fine dining

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      To tip or not to tip, and if you do, then how much? Although Vancouver has a tipping culture, diners and restaurants tend to stay tight-lipped about what’s appropriate. So the Georgia Straight called up Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, to get the goods on gratuity.

      “First of all, I think there are no rules. There are some conventions but no rules,” Tostenson said in a phone interview. “I think that in Vancouver, when people get the kind of service they expect, you’re going to see them tipping between 15 and 20 percent, consistently.”

      According to Tostenson, most diners calculate a gratuity based on the total bill, rather than the amount before taxes. He said that what most diners forget is that tips should reflect prompt service rather than food or other aspects of the restaurant.

      “If you go to a restaurant and the food comes out cool or cooked wrong, most good servers will correct that and it actually adds to your enjoyment,” Tostenson noted. “You’ll think, ‘They handled that well,’ or a manager will come by the table and say ‘Sorry.’ Most restaurants are good at this and will use that disaster as a way to prove their worth, and that will secure the tip.”

      If service is terrible, Tostenson said, leaving no tip sends a strong message to a restaurant. However, diners should realize that sometimes servers are required to pay for their mistakes out of pocket.

      “It still affects servers because they have to pay out on their sales. They still have to pay the back-of-house people and part of the tip pool because tips are shared,” he explained. “Generally, it’s not really the server’s fault, so maybe you tip them 10 percent.”

      In some circumstances, Tostenson believes that tips are unwarranted, such as when ordering from a fast-food counter or picking up takeout from a restaurant.

      “If you go to pick up the food, you’re providing that service element that’s tippable,” he said. “At quick-service restaurants, it’s like getting your food from the kitchen, in a way. They’re not providing that extra flair of service.”

      Bartenders, on the other hand, should be given a tip—around the standard 15 to 20 percent of the total at the bar. According to Tostenson, most bartenders provide good conversation and a bit of entertainment, all the while providing quick service. When it comes to automatic gratuity on a bill, Tostenson said it reflects the increase in labour required to accommodate large parties.

      “The restaurant does add extra servers to be able to do that,” he clarified. “What’s important is that they clear it up at the beginning of the dinner because sometimes there’s confusion. People are paying individually and don’t realize. I think it’s all about being up-front about it.”

      Although restaurants that have banned tipping—and increased staff wages—have appeared in other North American cities, Tostenson does not expect the trend to catch on in Greater Vancouver anytime soon.

      “The notion of it is good, but no server has really ever said: ‘I have a problem with wages.’ A good server is working for their tips and not for their wages,” he said. “I think servers like it the way it is, and I think we get better service as a result.”

      Tostenson also noted that for consumers, tipping is part of our society.

      “I want to express myself through a tip or a gratuity, so if I have good service, how do I do it? And if I have bad service, how do I do it? It works against what is part of our DNA right now. We like to tip people.”




      Mar 11, 2015 at 6:24pm

      “Generally, it’s not really the server’s fault, so maybe you tip them 10 percent.”

      It actually is most of the time the server's fault. Most issues the server can control from getting to you wrong. Also, long waits for the check, refills, etc. things of that nature most of the time it's due to servers going out of the order in which request came in making the 1st table wait the longest when they really shouldn't be. Once my husband and I waited 17 minutes to pay our check. No one should be waiting that long to leave EVER!

      Most issues are obvious to the server's eyes such as wrong food if they bring out the food, putting in the order wrong, missing items, forgetting things, overcharges, etc.

      "“It still affects servers because they have to pay out on their sales. They still have to pay the back-of-house people and part of the tip pool because tips are shared,” he explained."

      I know about this already, but that part isn't how people tip(unless you are stupid), because you tip based on YOUR SERVICE you were provided REGARDLESS of tip out or not. If the server is rude or did very poorly, I don't care they have to pay to serve me. On the other hand, if they were extremely wonderful, they will get 25%-30% or more tip. The server decides their tip by the way they treat you and what ***EFFORT** they **CHOOSE** to put in the service. You make a mistake, but choose not to apologize, you aren't going to get as nice of a tip as if you did apologize.


      Mar 16, 2015 at 11:36pm

      When was the last time Tostenson picked up a check?

      Snooze Button

      Mar 17, 2015 at 10:41am

      "Tostenson also noted that for consumers, tipping is part of our society."

      That's because low wages are part of our society, and restaurants want their customers to subsidize their labour cost or their quality "loyal" staff will move on to where the tips are better. The result is for more profit for restaurant owners. This is why the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, are taking about this and not customers who think a twenty percent tip on a eight dollar bottle of beer without a glass provided is a joke.

      Taxed to Death

      Mar 21, 2015 at 7:42am

      Did you know that restaurants calculate your 15% tip on the food, drink and tax portion of your bill. Why would I want to pay a tip on the tax??


      May 13, 2015 at 11:59am

      I generally tip about 15% after tax. However, I hate the tipping culture. We are paying an extra fee for an unskilled job.

      I've worked as a server, and have lived in countries where there are no tips. I do not personally find that we have better service in Vancouver, where tipping is normal. I often find we have worse service!

      Just a Server

      Jun 9, 2015 at 4:22pm

      As a server myself, I have never heard a server say 'I like it the way it is'. We all think it is ridiculous that restaurants ask customers to subsidize our wages because they are too cheap to pay us minimum wage, or over time in many cases. People are very uneducated about how a restaurant works and this article does not make it any clearer. Nor did you bother to ask a person who has a damn clue about how servers feel and what actually occurs with the general public in Vancouver.


      Jul 18, 2015 at 4:29pm

      Its a sad society in North America when you have to tip a bar man for handing you a bottle of beer. I didn't realize you had pay soneone for engaging in a friendly conversation either. I thought being friendly was free. I guess not in Vancouvers ultra plastic shallow culture. In europe if you tipped a bar man he would kick you out of the pub for insulting him. Meh...


      Jul 21, 2015 at 7:52pm

      from take-out to fine dining the headline says…. so wheres the part about take-out lol