Tipping Your Waitress: (This is How Much)

By John Goldsmith •  Updated: 01/07/22 •  4 min read

People often wonder how much they should tip their waitress.

The answer, of course, depends on a variety of factors, including the quality of service received and the size of the bill.

But in general, most people tend to tip between 15 and 20 percent.

The reason for this is that waitstaff are typically paid relatively low wages, so tips provide a large portion of their income.

In fact, many waiters and waitresses rely on tips to make a living wage.

As such, it’s important to be mindful of how much you’re tipping your server.

how much should i tip my waitress

Why do waitresses get paid so little?

Waitresses are typically paid very low wages due to the fact that most of their income is made up of tips.

They depend on customer generosity, which can be unreliable at times.

Many establishments will claim that they do not pay their wait staff an hourly wage because all the money they earn comes from tips.

However, sometimes people think that this is untrue and they believe that waiters and waitresses only make a certain amount per hour regardless of how much is earned in tips.

Waitress’s tips are a percent of the bill

A good waitress will be attentive and polite to her customers and provide fast service.

A great waitress will anticipate the needs of the customer before they even realize them themselves.

For instance, if a patron orders an appetizer, she will immediately bring it out as soon as it is complete for fear that their hunger may take over and they order everything at once, which would make everything come out at different times.

They may make recommendations for the menu based on their knowledge of other customers’ tastes and dietary restrictions, or be able to make suggestions for wines or beers that would pair well with the meal.

A good waitress will also keep her customers’ drinks full, whether it be water, iced tea, soda, coffee or beer.

As such, she must constantly walk back and forth between the bar and her section so as not to miss a drink order from a table.

Although many people think they tip a certain percentage of the total bill before tax is calculated, most people actually do tip 15-20% after-tax is added.

For instance, if you have an $80.00 bill at a restaurant your tipping would be $12.00 to $16.00.

A Bad Waitress tip

Anyone who has ever worked as a waiter or waitress knows that it can be hard, thankless work.

People often complain about the service they receive and sometimes become downright rude.

As such, on occasion, it’s understandable for servers to provide less than stellar service.

But there are some people who do not tip at all because they’ve had poor service, which is inexcusable.

So if you feel like your experience was sub-par then speak with a manager and don’t take it out on the server by not tipping.

If the food is terrible

But if your waitress was amazing and if the food just isn’t to your taste, then don’t be afraid to politely ask for a replacement.

Perhaps you want something else or maybe you’d like them to make it again and bring it out when it’s ready.

If not, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a box and eating it later.

But if this happens then tipping is still appropriate but less than usual.

Of course, we cannot always control what we receive; even in restaurants we can get unlucky and end up eating poorly-prepared dishes that are cold and bland (or worse).

In addition, sometimes things happen outside of anyone’s control: kitchen staff might have had an off day, the restaurant might have run out of ingredients, or the restaurant might be understaffed.

I highly recommend you let the manager on duty know, and sooner than later. They will be more than happy to accommodate you.

So, if you receive poor service even though you’ve tipped your usual amount then this would not be considered a stiffing.

This is because tipping is for good service and no one can guarantee that they will always provide excellent service.

How much should I tip my waitress?

The answer to that question depends on how satisfied you were with the level of service you received.  

The server has no control over overcooking the food or its taste, her job is to serve you, so base your tips on that, but generally, 20% is very standard.

And as always if you feel generous tip more, if you feel it was subpar, you tip less.

But let the manager know, so they can fix the problem, and comp your meal.

John Goldsmith