Ask The Salty Waitress: Do restaurants let potential servers know how much tip money to expect?

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Photo: Deklofenak (iStock), Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio

Dear Salty, To what extent are (prospective) waiters aware of how much tip income they should expect to take home from job postings or offers they are assessing? Do restaurants supply (likely optimistic) estimates during the interview phase?

Whiggly

Dear Whiggly,

Yep, they sure do, sweet pea! Tips make up the majority of our income, so any server worth her salt would be an idiot not to take a job without knowing that little nugget of information.

Of course they can’t give exact numbers, but they usually have a pretty good idea how much you can expect on weekends versus weekdays or days versus nights. If they refuse to tell you or are very vague, that’s a red flag. Of course, tips can vary by server, because some people are better at scrounging tips than others—but you should at least get an average from a potential boss. I can tell you, though, that when my wallet’s feeling a little thin, I pull out the lipstick and mascara because, sad to say, attractiveness is still a much bigger factor in getting better tips than service, especially if you’ve got boobs. If you don’t, you can rely on your charming personality. As my neighbor the Salty Barista says, life is just [redacted] unfair.

That’s why the Salty Barista works in coffeeshops, by the way. She gets tip estimates, too, but since the tips come from the communal tip jar and are broken down based on how many hours everybody works, take-home money depends a lot less on individual effort. (Some restaurants also tip pool, or have done away with tipping altogether.) But you should’ve heard her back in her Starbucks days when they transferred her to the location in an out-of-the-way strip mall where tips were a dollar an hour less. The air was blue for hours afterward.

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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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