OPINION: Why you should be great tippers to your servers and bartenders

Mellisa Soehono, Opinion Writer

“Sorry about zero tip. I’m a poor college student that loves sushi,” were the exact words written on my table’s $20 tab a couple years back. I wasn’t sure which was the most ironic part about this situation, the fact that we are both “poor college students,” or the simple fact this customer must have had some kind of means to spend money that night and just didn’t feel the need to spend a few dollars on top of her total.

Among many different kinds of jobs, many college students are employed within the service industry, whether you’re a server, bartender or busser, you might understand the importance of leaving a tip as a customer. But to those who don’t, allow me to help you gain a better understanding.

In the state of Florida, servers make between 3 dollars to 5 dollars an hour. Yes. That much. The government essentially expects you to tip at least 15 percent on top of our total. Now, you might be thinking, “So it’s my responsibility to tip because your employer doesn’t pay you enough?” The unfortunate truth is, yes. But this doesn’t just come from our employers; it comes from the government itself. On top of that, in most if not all restaurants servers are required to “tip-out” their hostesses, bartenders and bussers.

What does this mean? Well the tip you leave for your waiter gets split at the end of the night between the hostesses, bartenders and bussers during the shift. It may be something like “10 percent of your bar sales” or “15 percent of your tips,” or any percent of your sales. Mind you, this is applied regardless if you tip or not. Basically, if you aren’t tipping or tipping less than 15 percent, you are short-changing your server.

If your attempt is to punish your server for service that doesn’t fit your standards, ultimately you have failed. Being a server and bartender requires an insane amount of memorizing and multitasking while trying to keep a smile on your face. If your steak is overcooked, your food took too long, your sauce wasn’t on the side or if your drinks weren’t made to your liking, it is most likely not your server’s fault unless they are in training.

If something is truly wrong, let someone like a manager know so they can properly address the problem. Give the restaurant and their team an opportunity to fix the problem, you are not the only table your server is tending to. While part of the server’s job is to deliver your food, they are not omnipotent.

Since working in the service industry for almost five years serving and bar tending, I have not once left a tip under 15 percent, regardless of my experience when I’m out. Don’t be the person who takes someone out on a date, pays for the tab but leaves a cowardly tip. My favorite saying is, “If you can’t afford to leave a tip, you shouldn’t even be eating out.”


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