Tips aren’t automatic

I’m tired of crappy service at restaurants.  I’m tired of friends being appalled if I don’t give a 15% tip to the serving staff even if they don’t deserve it.  It’s not automatic.  It’s not that hard to deserve a good tip.  Having been a waiter myself, I know how you’re supposed to serve.  We’re doing no favours if that tip is just automatic.  So, here’s my list of minimum things you must do in order to qualify for even the basic 15%.

Brunch example

  1. Greet us at the door within 1 minute of arriving and seat us (if it’s full, I’ll make the choice and your tip won’t be affected).
  2. Give us menus when we sit.
  3. After 2 minutes, come to the table and ask us if we want coffee to start.  We do.
  4. Bring coffees immediately.  Make sure ample condiments accompany.
  5. When our menus are flat on the table and we look ready, come back to the table and take our order.
  6. Bring our meals no more than 10 minutes after we order.
  7. Refill our coffees without being asked.
  8. Half-way through our meals, come back and ask how things are.  Bring the coffee pot unasked.
  9. Take our plates as each of us finishes.
  10. Once the last of us finishes, ask if we’d like anything else.  Usually we just want the bill.
  11. Bring the bill.
  12. Come back for the bill no more than 5 minutes later.

Key principles

a) Don’t take your time.  Be prompt.  Waiting for things sucks royally.
b) Come to the table at least two times after we’ve gotten our meals.
c) Pay attention.  The worst is when you have to try to get the server’s attention.



About seburnt

I own 4C and teach at University of Toronto. View all posts by seburnt

3 responses to “Tips aren’t automatic

  • Vicky Loras

    Hi Tyson!

    Excellent points – my dad started off as a waiter when he immigrated to Canada when he was a 15-year-old boy.He did this work for years. Later on he had his own restaurant and the first thing he told the waiters and waitresses was to “be alert” (what you say about paying attention).

    Whenever we go out to eat and he sees terrible service, he immediately talks to the waiter or waitress and politely tells them what to do different next time “because he was a waiter too when he was a young boy and he needed the tips to get food on the table”.Plus he says it’s not only for the tips, but to do their job properly as well. I agree with you and my dad wholeheartedly! Terrible service upsets me and I refuse to tip as well.


    • seburnt

      I’m not sure I’d give the serving staff advice per se, but with a low tip, they’ll have to figure it out. I, personally, have no qualms with leaving nothing if the service was terrible. It seems, though, that many people I know have some misplaced guilt and always leave the 15% tip. It’s just so stupid and wrong.

  • Mom

    I totally agree with you Ty

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