Restaurant Tip Culture in the New Age

You might not have thought twice about tipping or what to order if you were out for dinner pre-pandemic. The Atlantic states that 20 percent was a common practice a few years back. This is determined by the quality and timing of service as well as general hospitality. For a regular dine in experience, a customer could easily spend a lot of money but not think much of it. COVID was introduced in March 2020. Many food service workers became indispensable workers. Customers were able to open their wallets and hearts a bit more when COVID came into effect.

Tipping Fatigue

Many customers gave generous tips during the initial phase of the pandemic. Customers tipping above 20% for delivery or pick-up orders was a common practice, according to The New York Times . This was because they felt it was the least they could give for those who cooked and delivered it, said . Despite the initial wave of restrictions, restaurant workers experienced a steady increase in generosity and momentum. However, this trend slowed down as restrictions were removed. Higher prices, suggestion of higher tips via touch screens, and an increase in gratuity on bills are all examples of “tipping fatigue,” according to the Times.

Inflation and Short Staff are two factors that contribute to tipping fatigue. Yahoo Finance. The article shows that the percentage of Americans who tip restaurant workers has dropped by 4% between 2019 and 2022. Some customers believe it’s an issue of aggressive tactics. The Dallas Observer states that tip suggestions made on touch screens, while the server is behind the counter, might be too much for a bakery or coffee shop.

CNBC says that “tipping fatigue” is a problem for both workers and restaurant owners. Workers earning minimum wages or less rely heavily upon tips, and they are often left with far less than what they need to support themselves. The Atlantic argues that restaurant workers should be paid a fair wage.

How Restaurant Owners Are Responding to the New Tipping Culture.

Restaurant owners have been known to add gratuity automatically to their bill to give their employees a living wage and not rely on inconsistent tipping. The Times says that touch screens encourage customers tipping more, even though it may seem harsh to some. According to the Times, a restaurant in Austin, Texas that used a touch screen reported a 50% increase in tips. Interview with Paula DaSilva, Executive Chef of Austin, Texas, asks customers to consider giving grace to restaurants and workers during times of struggle. She also suggests that this is the right time to tip more generously.

Still a Social Standard

Tipping isn’t disappearing, but it isn’t dead. Real Simple published a May article that suggested tipping 15 to 20% at sit-in restaurants. According to the magazine, gratuity is not negotiable regardless of how good the service was. Take-out should be tipped at least 3 to 5 dollars.

The way Americans eat out has changed significantly since the pandemic. Tipping reflects our character. We give what we can in difficult times. It reminds us all that we are all in this together. Although we may be tired, we still give.

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