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Should Guests Tip for To-Go Orders?

Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com. Miss a question? Go here.

Should Guests Tip for To-Go Orders?
Eric Fortman

In his book, Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity, author and former server Steve Dublanica says that when he worked in an upscale restaurant, 80 percent of the time people did not tip on takeout orders.

But given the fact that filling a to-go request takes work -- from helping a guest on the phone, to acknowledging special requests, to packaging the order up properly -- is the dining majority correct in its thinking? I asked Valley chefs and restaurateurs if they thought guests should tip when it comes to takeout.

Charles Wiley Chef and food and beverage director, ZuZu

YES, but certainly not 20 percent. Restaurant staff puts orders together, double-checks them to make sure everything is correct, and delivers orders with a smile -- and that deserves a little recognition.

Silvana Salcido Esparza Chef and owner, Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen

YES: To-go orders have always been a place where I leave $1 to $5 depending on the service. It's still a restaurant, and the pay for them still sucks!

Chef Kevin Binkley Binkley's and Café Bink

NO: There is virtually no service required for a to-go order, therefore not requiring a tip. Although, if you feel that someone has gone the extra mile, or that you received above and beyond service, a tip would be appropriate.

Christopher Gross Chef and owner, Christophers & Crush Lounge

NO: I do most of the time, but I don't think you need to unless you have someone take it to your car or you see them boxing it up and preparing it for you. Most of the time, it's done by the kitchen and then someone just hands it to you.

Eric Flatt Owner, Tonto Bar & Grill/Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House

YES: A small tip is always nice. To-go orders don't usually involve waitstaff or a tipped employee. Generally, it's the hostess who handles the order. It's a chance for a non-tipped employee to get a little something extra. 

Chef Elizabeth Meinz Orange Table

YES: When guests tip on to-go orders here, I give the tips to the kitchen because they work as hard as the front of the house.

Dana Mule, GM and partner, Hula's Modern Tiki

NO: You certainly are not obligated to, but I do. If the person on the phone was personable and they treat you well once you get there, why not? For a few bucks, you feel like a champ, and someone else gets that much closer to making rent.

Chef Brian Feirstein, Cask 63

YES: It takes more work to package everything up correctly than it does to plate up in the restaurant.

Jason Alford Chef, Roka Akor

YES: I always do. At least 5 percent.

Romeo Taus Owner and Chef, Romeo's Cafe

NO. But, with a caveat: If, in a small place where the host greets the guest, walks them through the menu, answers questions, places the order, packs it right, and offers the guest a beverage while waiting -- all efficiently and with a smile thanking them for the business -- you should tip. And if you know somebody like that, I'd hire them.

What do you think, Valley diners? Are to-go orders at restaurants worth a tip?

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