Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio | Photo: Teri Dixon/Getty Images

Heya Salty,

Every once in a while you hear about those massive, four-digit tips from celebrities. I’m not running around with that kind of cash to drop on tips, but I am curious: What amount would likely make a server’s day?

What’s the amount that would make most servers want to tell their other server friends, but not want to at the same time for fear of making them jealous?

—Pondering my next tip amount

Dear Pondering,

You can waltz into my restaurant any time you like, cupcake. I like the way you think.

I’ve seen a few holy-moly tips through the years, and they’re not always from the tables you’d think. Sometimes, the high roller with the Rolex leaves jack shit, while the quiet, boring couple at table 42 makes your whole day. I stopped judging books by their covers decades ago.

I’m speaking for myself here, but 30 percent is enough to really set someone apart. The average tipping rate nationally is about 15 percent, so 20 is generous in my book, and I’m always glad to get it. If you want to really knock my socks off, though, around 30 percent will do it. It shows that you’re going above and beyond to be generous, and I’ll definitely remember you if you’re at one of my tables again.

It works pretty well across all totals, too: If you’re at a diner and the total for your table’s pancakes, eggs, and coffee comes to $30, a cool $10 is an unexpectedly good tip. Ditto for a fancy meal that totals $200; a $60 tip would really make a statement.

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But I never expect that. You folks are on a budget just like I am, so if you tip between 15 and 20 percent for good service and generally mind your p’s and q’s, you’re doing it right. When you hit the lottery, though, just remember who served you coffee every morning.


Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or just a general question about life we can help you with? Email us: salty@thetakeout.com

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The Salty WaitressSalty Waitress is The Takeout’s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining out—and maybe in real life.