December 12, 2003

15% vs. 20%

POST #    633

Last night, I went to Banania Cafe on Smith Street here in Brooklyn (someone - not necessarily wise - once said of Smith St., "it's the Park Avenue of Brooklyn.") to eat dinner with the 'rents. I had the grilled pork chop with garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized apples. The pork chop was a tad dry in the middle, but I loved the garlic mashed and the apples. It's my opinion that you can't go wrong with garlic and potato. Anyway, I'm not looking to break the rules of blogging or anything, so I'll get to the point...

It came time to figure out the bill. The price for four people was $104 before tax. Tax worked out to around $9. Usually the rule of thumb for tipping is 15-20% of the pre-tax bill. In New York City, people usually just double tax and do some rounding, since the sales tax here is 8.625%. In NY, it seems to be that double tax is assumed and 20% is almost expected, with 15% reserved for poor service. My mom and I debated this fact for quite a few minutes. She was thinking $18, which is 17% and not a lousy tip at all, but I was thinking $21, which is 20.19%. She thought that she was being generous and I was being too generous. I said that for the service that we got, 20% was a fair tip. I don't think my mom is cheap, I just think she grew up in different times. Of course, after the debate on tipping, I got the obligatory, "do you think money grows on trees?" lecture. Dios mio!

Posted by tien mao in Food/Drink at 7:45 AM



I have this same discussion with my father. Rather he gives me a snarky "wow, you must be rich" comment because I give a generous tip. If he gives the tip I usually find a way to leave a few extra dollars on the table.

In your case the difference was three extra dollars spread over four people. You aren't going to miss it and the restaurant workers will appreciate it.

Posted by: joe s at December 12, 2003 9:53 AM

joe, that's exactly what i was thinking. i think my mom was just arguing over principle. that and my parents think i spend too much money in general, buying things i don't need.

Posted by: tien at December 12, 2003 11:29 AM

I've recently gone over to the 20% tipping crowd, at least when the service is fairly good. The 20% is pretty much automatic for me if the waiter/waitress has been to my table many times over the course of the night for food, drink, and checking up in a polite manner. I figure that most of my meals out (considering it's usually two people) run around $50 (not too expensive to eat out very well here in Norfolk). The difference between tipping 15% and 20% is then just $2.50, so I don't mind leaving a $10. Hell, I left a $10 for tip on a $40 bill the other night due to exceptional service.

Therefore, I'd endorse your 20% tipping plan.

However, I should note that I reserve my 20% tipping for dinner. If I'm having lunch somewhere, and it consists of the person taking my order, delivering the food, and then never coming back to the table, and the meal is under $8-$10, and we have around 4-5 people at the table, I just go with the "everyone drop $1" plan. That's as low as a 10% tip on some occasions, but I don't feel that "lunchtime service" is really worth much more.

Posted by: Joe at December 12, 2003 1:44 PM

i think if you tried a 10% anywhere in new york, they might chase after you on the way out and never let you back in again. even if the service was bad.

Posted by: tien at December 12, 2003 3:56 PM

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