Are you confused about tipping for takeout? It’s the latest dilemma facing diners. Just when you thought you had it straight and knew the rules for adding a15%, 18% or 20% gratuity to your bill, now you are challenged by what to add or if to add when you order takeout. There is a mega controversy swirling around the topic.
One more thing we can blame on Covid. Pre-Covid takeout was no big deal. In struggling to keep their doors open, restaurants began the practice of offering food to go. Some decided to offer curbside pickup so customers could remain in their vehicles. This practice remains in place today in spite of the relaxation of some Covid protocols.
So, if you have ordered takeout—where you go into the restaurant and pick up your order at the counter—do you need to tip? If so, whom do you tip? How much should you tip?
At this point, I am tempted to jump in with my opinion and close the subject. But you probably need to hear the opinions of others. I’ve done my research and found that, as usual, everyone has an opinion and not all agree.
There are those who think if all someone does is hand you a paper bag over the counter, there is no need to tip. There are others who believe that the person who hands you the bag should be tipped. Why? Because it is generally known that restaurant owners pay their staff below minimum wage. Their customers are expected to tip to make up for the difference. As one person wrote, “So I am expected to pay the employer and the employee?” Interesting point.
I confess to being baffled. I don’t want to appear to be the 21st-century version of Ebenezer Scrooge, but I don’t get tipping for takeout. Think about it. We have been using the drive-through lane at fast-food chains for years without giving one thought to tipping that person handing you your food through the window.
And please don’t ask me before you give me my order if I want to tip. That’s not only inappropriate, but it’s also awkward and embarrassing.
If an employee brings my order to me curbside, that warrants a tip. I tip more if they have to troop through inclement weather to do so.
I believe that etiquette is always about being kind, courteous and respectful. In the case of tipping for takeout, here’s my advice. Do what feels right to you. Every situation is different so you may tip on some occasions and not on others. It’s entirely up to you.