16 March 2008

Don't Leave Out Carry-out

I'm fending for myself meal-wise this week. This has meant frequent visits to Pho Reston 75 and Yoko Sushi.

To avoid eating alone in public (a deeply rooted socially unacceptable way to eat), I opt for carry-out. As such, I was left wondering if I should tip, and how much.

When I dine-in at these restaurants, I tip. When I dine-in at McDonald's, I don't. So perhaps it is the wait-staff coming to the table that I am tipping when I dine-in (the analogy extends to the pizza delivery guy as well). Under this paradigm I shouldn't when I carry-out.

Well, I wouldn't necessarily be correct, according to Ask Yahoo:
Phyllis Richman, a restaurant critic for the Washington Post, says that she doesn't usually tip at a carryout establishment, although she may add something to the jar on the counter. But if she is getting a meal to go from a sit-down restaurant, she will tip up to 10%.
Tipping culture is so arbitrary!!! The 15-20% tip is so ingrained in me, that even for carry-out I feel bad tipping less, especially when paying by credit card because then you get that receipt with the "tip" line with the 10,15,20, and 25% tip calculations printed on it. That line is ingenious... it guilts me into tipping more than the "measly 10%" almost every time.

A notable exception: If the kitchen is right behind the counter, as at McDonald's (and at Plaka Grill), I find it easier not to tip on carry-out than I do when the kitchen is hidden from view.


Chris said...

This seemed especially relevant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enJwYaeolXc&feature=related

What I hate is tipping a buck for every drink at a bar. Highway robbery! You're not bringing me two courses of food, you're not keeping my water full, and you're not there at my every beck and call. You pour my drink and give it to me. Twenty percent, for that!

I will grant you that per time, a bartender is doing a lot more work for me than a waiter. Still, it doesn't seem justifiable that pouring a beer from a tap is worth $1.

Also, I don't tip for carry-out. I tip for service, not the kitchen, and the kitchen does all the work in this case. I would tip the kitchen for carry-out if tipping the kitchen were customary at restaurants in general, but it isn't.

Jeff Shepley said...

I think the argument is that the server has to "package" the meal for carry-out... you know, put everything in one of those thank you bags with some napkins and some plastic silverware... but they do that at McDonald's too (without expecting a tip).

Chris said...

Haha, I just got carry-out tonight and tipped the girl a dollar. What made me do it? She said specifically "I put utensils and mild sauce into your bag - is there anything else you need?"

I think she made a specific point to show that she did something tip-worthy for me. Well, it worked. I hope they don't all know this trick. Hahaha