Is it Ever Okay Not to Tip?
As restaurant-going Americans, we've been conditioned to leave a tip of between 15 percent to 20 percent of the final bill when dining out.
But is there ever a time when we shouldn't leave anything at all?
According to the Consumerist, "there is almost no correlation between tips and good service, but surveys show that Americans relish the power to tip because we falsely believe it provides an incentive to provide good service."
Rudeness? Not receiving food? Inattentiveness? I asked Valley chefs and restaurateurs whether they thought it was ever acceptable not to leave a tip. Here's what they had to say. What do you think?
Josh Hebert, Chef and Owner, Posh
If you're going to stiff the server on a tip, always tell the manager what went wrong. Otherwise, no one is going to learn any lessons. No server has ever gotten a poor tip and thought, "I wonder what I did wrong?" or "How could I have made their experience better?" Instead they typically think, "Wow, what a cheap table." So turn it into an opportunity for a server, chef, or manager to learn.
Michael O'Dowd, Chef and Owner, Renegade MOD
Yes. It's a job. And if the job wasn't done correctly then the pay should reflect it. It's not a given and should be treated as such.
Dave Andrea, Owner, Brat Haus
Not really, but I have been known to give 10 percent if someone really sucks. I never penalize the server for bad food.
Farah Khalid, Chef and Owner, Curry Corner
Only in extreme circumstances. Sometimes the servers do no not necessarily share the same dynamic the chef has in preparing the food.
Chef Paul Steele, Phoenix Public Market Cafe
Regardless of the kind of service, I still leave a tip. It may not be a server's fault in certain situations. And as a customer, you might not understand why you received bad service. That is someone's livelihood you're affecting. If the service suffered, it may not be a full 20 percent tip, but I still leave at least half. The server knows what it means not to receive a 20 percent tip.
Don Carey, Corporate Culinary Chef for TQLA
No -- no one is perfect and karma is a bitch! If feedback is needed, have the respect to tell a manager what isn't right. Not tipping won't fix the issue.
Aaron May, Chef and Restaurateur
I don't think so. With the rare exception of truly offensive service, there is a social contract that exists between the server and the public that the only way they can have a livable wage is to receive tips.
Joe Johnston, Owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia
You do not need to tip at a counter-service place that does not provide post-sale service.
Guido Saccone, Chef and Partner, Cibo
It is never okay not to tip. Everyone can have a bad day, but there are many people who are also working with the server, like the buser or bartender, who rely on those tips. People often don't remember to tip a little for a to-go order. Someone is still packaging that food and checking the order is correct.
Romeo Taus, Chef and Owner, Romeo's Cafe
I don't understand the waterfall of impatience and entitlement that permeates dining nowadays. Any establishment worth its salt will do its utmost to ensure the guest will be taken care of. People act like there is no room for error if they are paying guests. I can't think of one other job where no one ever makes a mistake. Vote with your pocketbook. Do not go back!
Chef Monte Healey, Del Frisco's Grille
Even if the food is bad and the service is terrible, I always tip. I know from experience that servers are working hard and just trying to make a living while going to school or what have you. So if the food is bad, I just don't go back.
Chef Chaz Frankenfield, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown
I would never not leave a tip for a server. Remember that it takes a village to serve a restaurant guest. Everyone from assistant servers to busers and bartenders would suffer from people not leaving tips. Instead, I would connect with the restaurant management to inform them of my experience.
Pastry Chef Mary Cech, Lon's at the Hermosa
If service is really bad or nonexistent, then it's appropriate. But it's very much a case-by-case basis.
Trish Clark, Manager Bungalow Bar & Grill
Only when the server is purposefully rude and a comment is made to management. I would tip the other service: buser, runner, etc.
Gio Osso, Chef and Owner, Virtu
It's okay not to tip if you're in Europe, where the tip is included. I don't believe in not tipping. Our service staff is dependent on those tips for their livelihood. Regardless of the experience, a tip should be given.
Dustin Christofolo, Chef and Partner, The House at Secret Garden
You should always leave a percentage of tip. My tipping scale is 15 percent to 25 percent. I will tip 15 percent when I think the service is below average, 20 percent if the service and restaurant are up to par, and around 25 percent when I feel the server has gone above and beyond. If the server deserves a tip below 15 percent, I flag the manager and tell him my issues with the dining experience.
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