Tipping is customary in the food and beverage service industry, where others are preparing your food. If you're in a restaurant, at a bar or event, or getting your food delivered, you should expect to tip a percentage of your order's total or a flat fee per item. This is explained in more detail below.
In most of the United States, states allow employers to only pay tipped employees a "tipped minimum wage," which is currently $2.13 at the federal level. Specific states have their own regulations for how businesses should be paying tipped employees. Research from the Economic Policy Institute has found that in states where tipped workers are paid the federal tipped minimum wage, 18.5 percent of waitstaffers are in poverty. Because these servers and delivery drivers depend on tips to make up a large portion of their income, it's important to tip proportionally to the service they provide.
The Current Standard
According to a 2018 article by Eater, 20 percent is the new "gold standard" for tipping at a sit-down restaurant. Previously 15-20 percent was acceptable, but in recent years, 20 percent has become the norm.
For delivery drivers, it is customary to tip around 15 percent or a few dollars for a small fast food order. Even if an order is from a fast food restaurant and only $15, tipping $2-3 is a good practice.
When to Tip Extra
For delivery drivers, it's important to tip more if the order is larger or the delivery conditions aren't ideal. For instance, if food is ordered for delivery because there's a snowstorm outside and no one wants to leave home, tipping over 20 percent is a nice gesture.
When you're in a restaurant, tipping extra is recommended if you have a large, complicated party, challenging circumstances (such as kids that made a mess all over the floor), or the server went above and beyond normal serving duties. For example, if the server takes the initiative to bag to-go food, bring a to-go cup of soda, or provide a free birthday dessert, tipping extra is always appreciated.
When to Tip Less
Because servers and drivers make such a large portion of their income from tips, a tip should always be given unless the experience was horrible. Even late food should still get a tip, especially if the server/delivery driver acknowledges the timing and the problem wasn't their fault (e.g., the kitchen was behind or someone else took the table's order accidentally). When it comes down to it, in the vast majority of cases, it's important to still tip 15-20 percent.
Cash Versus Charge
Should you tip servers and delivery drivers in cash or on your credit card? Many diners aren't sure which is easiest or most beneficial to the driver or wait staff. Cash is always preferred, as it is income they can take home directly after their shift and it's easier to keep track of. Be sure to note in the online order comments or on the receipt that cash was given so they know to expect it at the end of a meal or completion of delivery.
If you don't have cash, we invite you to use the tipping feature through Menufy's online ordering system. For your convenience, the tip calculator on our checkout page computes various percentage amounts. You may also enter a custom dollar amount:
US Versus the Rest of the World
According to USA Today, tipping in the United States can vary from tipping in the rest of the world. Tips are expected in Mexico, Canada, and India, just as they are here. In most European countries, however, the "service charge" is already included in the bill. Some diners will choose to leave a little more with their check (or not take the change from a cash payment), but it's not necessarily expected. Be aware of tipping customs when ordering food delivery or dining in a restaurant in other countries.
Tipping is a normal part of our culture, and when ordering food or drinks, it's important to calculate the tip into the total meal cost. Going out for an expensive meal (or ordering it for delivery) and then tipping less because the dishes were expensive is rude and should be avoided. Make sure there's enough in the budget or your wallet for a tip before ordering and be sure to give extra for exemplary service.