I’m a line cook, and have been for a long time. I’ll often sit down at the bar and have a beer or two after work, and I’ve always tipped the staff like I would if I were a decent customer, 15-20%. My reasoning is that if left and went somewhere else for a beer, I’d tip that stranger. Why wouldn’t I tip that bartender or server who I work with and like?
You can see where this is going, right? They all, across the board, make more money than me. And at least where I work now, they never even think to buy a beer for the kitchen when they have a great night. I’m not starving or anything, but I guess my question is if I should be tipping, and if the answer is no, do I have to have an awkward conversation about why I don’t do it anymore?
Dear Big Tipper,
Aw, sugarplum, you’re breaking my heart. After a night in the kitchen, you deserve a shift drink, and you shouldn’t have to pay anybody for it. Not the restaurant, not the server or bartender who bring it to you, not the barback who washes the glasses when you’re done with them. And the first time you tried to leave a tip, the server or bartender should have given it right back to you, because we all know damned well which side of the house is making more money, and it sure as hell isn’t the back.
So no, if you’re having a drink right after your shift, you don’t feel obligated to leave a tip. (If you’re coming in on your day off, then that’s a different story.) And you don’t owe anybody any explanation. If somebody tries to start an awkward conversation with you, which would be pretty bold, you can remind them that nobody was tipping you for your hard work all night. And that it’s customary for front of house to buy a round for the kitchen once in a while.
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