View Full Version : How much tip to leave...

Dopey Sharon
11-07-2003, 03:26 AM
at a buffet? I'm sure you don't leave the normal 15-20%. Is it a percentage of the bill or so much per person? :confused:

Mike Jones
11-07-2003, 04:27 AM
..as a family, we choose to go to a buffet, but I assume that the restauarant employees are still partly dependant upon tips for their income. We therefore generally tip around 10% at buffets, provided that the servers and staff act in a way that enhances our experience... even if they are not actually serving at table (and many of course serve beverages etc) thay are (hopefully) smiling at us from behind counters, chatting to our kids and generally making us feel welcome. One thing that can annoy me is when tables are left uncleared for any length of time.

If I ever get sub-standard service (and we are not perfectionists!) (we're British... we're not allowed to complain, culturally!;) ) we don't tip, buffet or full service.

11-07-2003, 09:57 AM
This is just my personal opinion, but i feel the servers at a buffet work just as hard if not harder and we always leave at least 15%. I know opinions on this varies greatly but that is what we do. Of course as with any restaurant, if service is lacking than so is the tip.

Terry S
11-07-2003, 10:31 AM
We still leave the normal 20% as long as service is good. They waitstaff at these resturants are normally very attentive.

11-07-2003, 10:35 AM
Oh my goodness! We'll be at WDW the exact same days AND the exact same resort. How funny! After BWV we leave for Universal's HRH till Dec 7!

I tip pretty much the same. Between 15% and 20% depending on the service.

Mike Jones
11-07-2003, 10:44 AM
... I'm feeling really mean now... thought the 10% was ok in buffets... I'll be too embarrassed to do that again... guess this thread's just cost me a few $!!!!LOL

Mike(what about 17.5%?):teeth:

11-07-2003, 12:36 PM
We tip for buffets as we would at full service restaurants. I think the servers at buffets do just as much as any other server and it if the service is good they get tipped well.

11-07-2003, 01:27 PM
We tend to leave 15-20% for good service as well. Sometimes at buffets, the servers end up clearing more dishes than they ever would for table service!

11-07-2003, 02:01 PM
Our standard tip for all wait staff is 20%. I am a bit more likely to shave a bit off for slow or inattentive service at a buffet however, since all I really expect from the wait staff is that they will bring my drink and take my money in short order. I don't think their job as hard as wait staff at a regular restaurant (no order to keep straight, no meals to deliver to the table, etc.)-- so my expectation is perhaps a bit higher.


11-07-2003, 02:15 PM
My fiance tips 20%. If we go to a character buffet and the server takes pictures of us with the characters (since it's only two of us and we depend on the kindness of strangers to take 95% of our vacation pictures), we tip more. Of course, if the service is very inattentive, we tip less.

11-07-2003, 02:23 PM
We tip 10% for buffets..............and I have seen that in various tipping guidelines. Yes, staff at a buffet work just as hard in general, but they don't do as much for you specifically as a waiter in a table service establishment would. As for relying on tips, I think most people who work buffets know that the tips will be less than at a typical table service place.

11-07-2003, 02:27 PM
guess I am a cheapskate here but most buffets in our area say "no tipping" so I would tip much less than 20%, probably 10-15 for good service, at one that does allow tipping...emptying a few more empty plates ( if any considering you normal have a plate per course any way and if bus boys don't do it) and filling drinks imo does not come close to waiting on a table under normal circumstances and unless they pool their tips the servers behind the buffets do not see them. I try to be a good tipper (been there done that) but I just do not think the two compare..now if someone did extras I would tip more (photos, special meal, whatever) but not when I am basically serving myself except for a drink.
wanted to clarify this some
while I am sure buffet workers work hard and do a good job they do not have the same( imho) mentally or physically tasking aspect of waiting on tables...(no heavy trays, no orders except drinks, no making or plating soups, salads or desserts which some restaurants expect the servers to do, no timing delivery of courses ) just not the same. so in general I don't tip the same. also I would think they could work more table since they are not doing as much and thus make up in more tips per hr.

Ted and Holly
11-07-2003, 04:02 PM
Some of the best servers I have had were at Boma. It doesn't matter if the servers are working really hard JUSt for me, or for everyone. They are working hard.

I tip 20% or more at full service or buffet. Although, I will sometimes tip more or less than exactly 20% to make the math easier for me.


Dopey Sharon
11-07-2003, 07:10 PM
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one wondering...lol I may be wrong, but I assume that the wait staff at a buffet get paid more hourly, than the wait staff at a regular "order off the menu" restaurant. Anyone know if this is true? We have, in the past, left $1 per person, for a tip, at a buffet. After reading the replies here, that is way to little. I just figured that, since we have to go get our food and serve ourselves, the wait staff is only bringing drinks, that was a fair amount. Most buffets I've been to, either the bus boys or whomever happens to be passing by our table at the time a dirty dish is there, clears the table. It's never been just our waitress clearing dirty dishes. Oh, and BTW...at a sit down restaurant, we always leave at least a 15-25% tip...depending on the service (most times it's more like 25%), so I wouldn't say we are cheap.

11-07-2003, 07:35 PM
One thing to consider while at WDW buffets is that no child ages 12-17 is allowed to order just an appetizer or just a kid's meal or whatever. They are charged the full $24. (For 6 chicken nuggets, mac n cheese and two brownies.) So, if you're like our family and you have several kids who are "adults" your bill could easily look like $150 before you tip and are taxed. So, if the server has filled beverages twice for our table and cleared our plates twice they are already get $15 if we only tip 10%. (Which we don't unless service is poor. We usually do 15-20%. We have tipped 25% at Boma for excellent service.) For average/pleasant service I think 10-15% can be more than fair for the amount of work done considering how high the food bill can be. Now, if a couple of our older relatives (who are embarrassing at buffets) were with us (you know the ones that go through fifty plates and complain about everything) I think tipping 20% on each $24 meal is justified!;) )

11-07-2003, 08:01 PM
I tip on service whether buffet or full service.....I've waited tables during school for years and buffet work is as hard as Regular service.....I always tip at least 18% unless the work is totally underpar....doesn't return to remove plates, take drink orders....

Servers only get paid about $2.35 per hour (last time I checked) whether buffet or regular servers...it's refered to as tipped wage and if you get tipped a restaurant can pay you that little...

11-07-2003, 10:58 PM
that is true ( about the low wages paid by the restaurant.)however also having waited tables ( at a sit down hamburger place for breakfast, probably one of the worst tipping postions) I always made well over 15 an hr (20 yrs ago ) and know many who wait tables in moderate sit down dinner places make at least 300 over dinner in tips so that is a little misleading since any decent wait person makes way way way way way more than that which is why many have a fit about declaring their tips for taxes.not that I don't think you should tip, I do but most wait staff make very good money for a very difficult job.

I was including tips in my hrly rate, not straight wages

11-08-2003, 09:27 AM
Speaking from a servers point of view--We only make 2.13 an hour, so after taxes that comes out to less than a dollar a hour. I think you should tip on the service you received. If you got good average service leave 15 --great leave 20 and if you always had empty drinks(not because you suked them down before the server left the table) and dirty plates around leave 10 or nothing at all. I generally go out of my way for the people I am waiting on because that 2 bucks an hour doesn't pay the bills. On more thing if you are a party of 8 or more they will add the tip and they won't point out--if your service was bad (cause they think they automatically get the tip) you don't have to pay that. anyways sorry to keep going put a little info from the other side:rolleyes:

11-08-2003, 01:25 PM
We generally tip 20% regardless of the type of resturant. I will lower the tip if service is poor.

Actually at WDW there was only one time when we tipped less than 20%.

11-08-2003, 01:56 PM
for the tippers out there(I don't eat out much so I can't say), I am curious about this:

Let's say you are in Orlando, and go to Shoney's for breakfast, and pay around $8 for an adult buffet. Do you tip 15%($1.20)?

And then go to Disney, and pay $18(I think for breakfast), and tip $2.70?

Let's assume service is equally good. Does the Shoney's waitress deserve to get paid over 50% less?

I am not trying to start a dispute, just curious about what is done in that situation.

11-08-2003, 02:08 PM
With buffets I usually start with a base of 10%. Service has to be really bad to make me lower it (in fact I think I only did that once) but good service starts to up the tip from there. I don't think we have ever tipped less than 15% at a WDW buffet - sometimes we went as high at 20%.

I do the same with restaurants but I start with a 15% base and work my way as high as 25% (pretty rare for me to give that high) but I do pretty regularly give 20% and only very rarely in the 10% range and that is usually when service is really bad.

11-08-2003, 02:18 PM
I tip 15-20% at buffets, regardless of where the buffet is. I think WDW servers for the most part work a lot harder at keeping guests happy than at other places. I have a few servers that i always request. They know us, and know our likes and dislikes. They have our beverages on the table before we are even seated. They get more than 20%.


princess angel
11-08-2003, 03:03 PM
we always tip 20% at buffets at WDW.
These servers work hard, thnk of all the mess they clean up, when people go up 4 or 5 times!!!!

I worked in the restaurant industry for over 5 years, so I know how hard these people work!

Laura :)

13 days til WDW!!!!!!!! YIPPPEEEEE!!! :) :) :)

11-08-2003, 03:38 PM
How many times is it acceptable to go up to the buffet? Reading everyone's responses i am again reminded of just how much I eat! I need them to clear my dirty plates probably 6-8 times! That might be easier than some places where they have to keep orders straight, but its also quite a bit of work. It's similar to full service in my opinion. Also, in my experience, bussers also make a small amount of tips out of what the wait staff makes. Therefore, if bussers are cleaning off your table, they could benefit from a good tip as well. That may not be true everywhere, but it has been true where I've worked.

All that said, Dear Abby says 10% is appropriate at a buffet.:D

11-08-2003, 03:48 PM
Originally posted by sln88
for the tippers out there(I don't eat out much so I can't say), I am curious about this:

Let's say you are in Orlando, and go to Shoney's for breakfast, and pay around $8 for an adult buffet. Do you tip 15%($1.20)?

And then go to Disney, and pay $18(I think for breakfast), and tip $2.70?

Let's assume service is equally good. Does the Shoney's waitress deserve to get paid over 50% less?

I am not trying to start a dispute, just curious about what is done in that situation.

actually that is a great question I have not really thought about but was kind of along the lines of what I was thinking...a buffet at Disney for dinner is close to 25 per so at a table of 4 that is $100 or at 10%, $10 a table .now say you have only 5 such tables an hr( would be at least that many I would guess)....or $50 an hr ....that is a good hrly wage imo. plus waitressing (imho)is one of the few jobs where you have somewhat ( I said somewhat I know you can get grief for problems in the kitchen ect.) of a control over how much you earn...the better you are the more you can make which really is not true a lot of times in the work force, particularly in an (for lack of a better term here meaning no formal education for it) "unskilled" profession... i am not trying to start any debate here either... just thoughts but also why I might tip less in this situation...my wait person sure does not do two times more at a Disney Buffet than my wait person at home where a sit down might cost my husband and I $30,

Dopey Sharon
11-08-2003, 04:38 PM
Originally posted by maidmarion

All that said, Dear Abby says 10% is appropriate at a buffet.:D [/B]

That's good enough for me! :D

11-08-2003, 07:27 PM
I used to work in the industry and my husband still does. The nationwide standard for buffet tipping is in fact 10%. At full-service restaurants in major cities it has risen to 18% to 22%.
Although servers work just as hard at buffet restaurants as full-service, they usually carry more tables and the turn over on tables is quicker, since there is no waiting on items from the kitchen.

As for the difference between Shoney's and WDW buffets, you should still tip on the amount of your check. There really is a different level of service, usually, and the server there is not tipping out a percentage of their sales to hostesses and bus boys and bartenders like in other restaurants. By all means if you have an excellent server at Shoney's, show your appreciation. In a fine dining restaurant, the check average is higher and you should tip on the amount of your check. There is usually a front wait and back wait, bus boys, host, bartender, bar back, and entertainers who would all get a percentage of the tips. Usually when a position is tipped out from the server it is based on their evening sales. not what they actually made in tips. Yes, they could even lose money if they really suck. They are taxed on this amount, too. The restaurant reports how much they have done in sales and they are legally required to pay taxes on 15% of this amount plus their hourly pay.

The people working behind the buffet line are usually kitchen employees and are paid an hourly wage of much more than $2.25. Some restaurants might pay them less, plus a tip share.

When I am at a character buffet, I usually tip more, around 15%. I am not sure if the characters are paid an hourly wage or if part of their income come from tips. At Golden Corrall, I usually throw down $4-5 for our family of four.

11-08-2003, 09:57 PM
Hi! We tip 15-20% on buffet, just like on a full service restaurant. Yes, the servers bring drinks only, not food. But they and the bus staff have to clear away WAY more plates, and they have to be constantly on the alert for the plates, too. It's not like a regular restaurant, where they serve you one entree, and they can pretty much check in every once in a while to make sure you're okay with it and your drink is full. We go to the buffet about 3-4 times each, so they really have to be on the alert to clear away those dirty plates quickly. And the bus staff doing the clearing, not wait staff, doesn't make a difference in the tip to us. If it's anything like the restaurants that my brother has worked in, the wait staff has to tip out the bus staff, so those tips DO go to the people who clear the plates, too. It wouldn't be fair to give them 10%, in my opinion, if they work just as hard as a server at a full service restaurant.
I know that 10% is what I've heard was standard, back in the early 90's, but recently, I've been reading more and more that 15% is the standard for buffet servers, even. I know how lousy their pay is, and they have to deal with things like people who dine and dash, or people who tip only $1 per person, so I think it's fair to give them the full tip, if they've earned it.
Heather W

11-09-2003, 01:57 AM
Coming from someone who works at a very busy seafood buffet restaurant right now I am so glad to see that most of you consider the amount of work put in by your server. I do not get a check because it is eaten up in taxes so the money I leave with on any given night is what I have made. We tip out a percentage of our sales, (tonight that was $27 plus some change) which can get pretty high, plus we tip out our bartneder seperately from the tip out. I cannot count the numer of plates I haul back to the kitchen and the times I fill drinks and rhe shells I clear. BUT, I am working my way through school and the hours are great for my schedule. I think everyone has a right to their own opinion but personally I would like to see Dear Abby come wait tables in my restaurant one night....I have no doubt she would change her percentage. I do believe if your wait person does a lousy job you have the right to change your tip, by all means, and if they are exceptional you might raise it but I think 15-20% is a fair standard.


11-09-2003, 10:36 AM
Originally posted by zaxmom
. There is usually a front wait and back wait, bus boys, host, bartender, bar back, and entertainers who would all get a percentage of the tips.

they are legally required to pay taxes on 15% of this amount plus their hourly pay.

a couple questions on this:
are you meaning these quotes to refer to rest. in general or buffets in particular.
I am wondering since if they pay on 15% then obvously they would lose money if you left 10% but am also wondering why they would have so many behind the scenes non kitchen help.

also if someone who works a buffet *and* has waitressed in a sit down would explain why they feel the work is the same ( I have only worked sit down and since I do personaly only use maybe 3 plates ( salad, entree, dessert) at a buffet feel it is different but I may not be the norm. I am looking at it that the drink stuff pretty much is equal, any shells or what ever is equal too depending on the type of rst. more than if it's buffet or not( would hate to work at one of those rest. that served the peanuts before dinner, talk about a mess!) and the plates would be equal to me but maybe most take a lot more than I do. again this is not for debate, just want to know if I need to rethink my "tipping policy"..also I think dear abby is dead (?) so that could have been written long long ago!

11-09-2003, 12:46 PM
Okay, this is coming from someone who has waited tables for about 13 years on and off and it's what I'm doing right now.
First I want to thank all of you who tip on your service AND your check total! What a lot of customers don't realize is this...if your bill is $45.00 and you tip me less than 10%, I still have to pay my taxes on that. The standard now is 18% not 15%. It's been 18% for at least 5 years now...if I remember correctly.
I have worked buffet and full service and I work a lot harder at full service. I have to take your order, get your drinks, bring your order to the table, keep your drinks full and keep your table clean by removing dirty plates and empty glasses. Also because I serve alcohol more work is required because drinkers love to drink and a lot of them like to switch up their drinks. I had a table of eight one time that had a check total of $55 BEFORE they ordered any food...see what I'm saying??
Understand what I'm saying, serving is NOT an easy job whether it's full service or buffet, but it is easy money...there's a big difference between the two. I had someone tell me once that serving must be easy and I looked at them like they were nuts!! :duck: :rolleyes: The money is easy, IF you're good at what you do and the customers tip you appropiately. For example, I'm standing at $334 in tips for only 4 days of work and I have one shift left. I just made in 4 days what takes some two weeks to do...or even a month to do! :eek:
Just please, please remember...servers don't make much at all hourly. I make $2.48 an hour, but that's because I'm what's called a THREE-STAR CERTIFIED TRAINER. Most other servers where I work only make $2.13 an hour. Our paychecks aren't squat! Mine basically will put gas in my car every week or just be used as fun money. If you don't tip us at all or not appropiately, we CANNOT pay our bills. :( Understand this also, not everyone is meant to be a server. It's something you either have in you or you don't. I'm told on a daily basis how sweet I am or how wonderful I am as a server, or how much fun I've been. Well, I enjoy what I do. It's getting old...remember 13 years....but I still enjoy it because the money is SO GOOD! :goodvibes
Just tip on your service and then take the price of your check into effect. For me, it's what I do for a living, so more than likely I'm tipping 30% or more! Remember...I wait tables for a living, so I'm going to tip WAY ABOVE the norm. For example, me and some of the gang from work went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast and my check total was $8 and some change, I left her $4. Yes I know, that was 50%.
Once again, I appreciate all of you who know the norm and tip accordingly. A server at Disney is NO different than a server anywhere else in the world, please don't forget that. Servers at Disney are just sometimes held in high regards because of where they work and that's okay. All of us work very hard for our money, because if we don't we don't eat! :faint:
I thank you all again and have a very blessed day! :teeth:

Denise :wave:

11-09-2003, 01:19 PM
We generally tip 10% at a buffet. The servers are always good at WDW and always very pleasant, but they do much less for diners than at full service restaurants. They also are given more tables than a full service server, therefore making up the difference in tips. I just can't see tipping 10 bucks on top of an already expensive breakfast of say 50 bucks for three people. We ate at the Cape May breakfast awhile back and saw our server when he took our drink order, when he brought our drinks, and when he brought our check. That's not worth a 20% tip. We also do not tip on the entire amount of a bottle of wine at a full service restaurant. Wine is marked up so much at a restaurant (often 100% over retail) that it seems ridiculous to pay an *additional* $20 on top of a $100 bottle of wine ordered in a restaurant. So we deduct the wine, tip 20% on the rest of the bill and then throw in a few more dollars. If we were ordering regular cocktails, we tip more on the alcohol because it requires more work for the server.

11-09-2003, 05:41 PM
Originally posted by dvcgirl
We generally tip 10% at a buffet. The servers are always good at WDW and always very pleasant, but they do much less for diners than at full service restaurants. They also are given more tables than a full service server, therefore making up the difference in tips. I just can't see tipping 10 bucks on top of an already expensive breakfast of say 50 bucks for three people. We ate at the Cape May breakfast awhile back and saw our server when he took our drink order, when he brought our drinks, and when he brought our check. That's not worth a 20% tip. We also do not tip on the entire amount of a bottle of wine at a full service restaurant. Wine is marked up so much at a restaurant (often 100% over retail) that it seems ridiculous to pay an *additional* $20 on top of a $100 bottle of wine ordered in a restaurant. So we deduct the wine, tip 20% on the rest of the bill and then throw in a few more dollars. If we were ordering regular cocktails, we tip more on the alcohol because it requires more work for the server.

Just a couple things here - did no one clear your plates away for you at Cape May? Remember, even if it's not your server doing the clearing, the server tips out the bus staff, so those tips pay not only your server, but also the bus staff.
I don't even want to touch the "I don't tip the full price on wine" comment, because I think that the posts from those who are servers for a living speak for themselves. They have to pay taxes as though they've been tipped 18%, whether people actually tip them the full amount or not. I would personally feel bad, knowing that someone was going to pay taxes on money that they didn't actually receive from me, if they were smiling, cheerful, prompt servers. A surly or excessively slow server is a whole different story, but I think that if they do their jobs, they should be tipped appropriately, whether you like paying tips on the full amount of your check or not. What you decide to order to make up that total amount is your business, but it is just standard courtesy to tip 15-20% on the ENTIRE check, not the check minus wine!
And as far as not wanting to tip 20%, because you don't want to spend the money, since you've already spent $50 on breakfast, no one told you that you had to go to that restaurant. I think it's harsh on the servers, who don't see the profits from the restaurant, that you dock their tips because you feel the restaurant prices are "already expensive."
I don't work in the restaurant industry, but I have a brother who did for many years. I am a teacher, and those pennies are definitely hard-earned by us, but I still wouldn't dock someone else's money from them, just because I preferred to spend it on food but not on service! Paying 15-20% of the total check is just part of life, if you go to a restaurant that isn't counter service!
Heather W

11-09-2003, 10:32 PM
Thanks for your kind thoughts Heather...I was just stating my opinion.

If I order a 40 dollar bottle of wine at the CG the server deserves an eight dollar tip by your way of thinking right? But now if I decide to order a $100 dollar bottle of wine then the server deserves an additional $12??? Why? Have they provided any additional service? No, they haven't. If we have asked the server or sommelier for assitance in choosing the wine, then we'd add on to the tip. If the bottle is exceptionally old and needs decanting, then again, we're talking about a whole different level of service. We always tip more for that kind of service. But the majority of the $100-$150 dollar wines at CG are the same 1997-2000 varieties in the $50-$75 retail range that I can get here at home. If we choose our own wine without assistance and it requires no additional service, then IMHO, there's no reason to pay 20% tip on a fairly expensive bottle of wine. What about all of those tables where the diners have no wine....or share dinners, or have appetizers instead of entrees?????

The difference in entree prices isn't anything near the difference in wine prices as a good restaurant.....maybe 10 dollars between the lowest priced and highest priced entree. But the difference between a so-so wine and a really decent wine at a good restaurant (like CG) can be in excess of a hundred dollars. I'm more than happy to tip 20% for good service at WDW or any other restaurant for that matter. We often tip in excess of 20% when a server has gone out of their way. But to be expected to tip 20% on an already overpriced restaurant-priced wine is ridiculous. Every tipping guide I've ever seen or read states this fact. Tip 20% up to 20 dollars unless a sommelier is involved or a special service is required. That's the rule of thumb in the industry.

And the comment about servers paying taxes on the 18%........really now, I have known many servers, whether as friends or family members.....and do you honestly think that they're paying the government based on that 18% number? I don't think that they are....

As for the Cape May Buffet....I think our server deserved no more than five dollars. He took our order for a carafe of coffee and a glass of juice. He brought that. We didn't see him again until we got his attention to bring our check about 30 minutes later. Then he brought our check. The three of us went up twice to the buffet. Our initial plates were untouched, which wasn't a big deal to us. We just stacked them up and pushed them aside. I just think that three minutes of face time and limited service deserves more than a five dollar tip on a fifty dollar bill at a buffet restaurant. It wasn't a bad service experience by any means, but it certainly wasn't extroadinary.

11-09-2003, 11:01 PM
Denise: thanks that cleared it up for me

11-10-2003, 01:46 AM
I have not waitressed since 1997 but I thought I would give perspective on the other side of the fence. I worked for Bobs Big Boy Restaurants at one time and they had a buffet as well as regular menu.Generally speaking people tip less for buffet no matter how attentive you are to the table. I also worked for IHOP for several years after that and there is no buffet. Tips were much better for full service. As a waitress I made $2.90 per hour plus tips. Obviously a person can not survive on $2.90 per hour. A server depends on their tips to earn a decent living.I took a great deal of pride in customer service and it paid off for me most of the time.Generally I felt that 15% was fair ,20% was good and anything more was like hitting lotto!
When families are on vacation they tend to be looser with their spending habits. You spend more on one meal at Disney than it can cost for a week of groceries back home. Some restaurants automatically include a tip of 18%,especially for parties of eight or more. Of course it is much easier to figure the math on 20%!.
Unfortunatly for me ,since I have stopped waitressing , I have found myself to be more critical of service anywhere I go. I critique everything and judge according to standards I set for myself when I served. When a server falls short of those standards,my DH just is not happy with my critiquing and gets uncomfortable.When the server meets or exceeds those standards I am a tipping fool!
Anyway,I dont know how any of this helped you but I felt good saying it.
Thanks for listening!

11-10-2003, 08:05 AM
Not all servers report all of their earnings. When I waited tables we were supposed to report what we made in tips in the time clock when we clocked out. Of course no one really ever put as much as they actually made. I know a couple of people who were audited, though. One bartender actually got screwed from take out orders that were always picked up at the bar. They were included in the bar sales, but very few people tip on these.
I really don't know what tipping on a bottle of wine should be. It does seem ridiculous to tip more for a $100 dollar bottle than a $40 bottle. I have heard the same rule of thumb for the tipping 20% up to a certain amount.
Having worked in the industry, I also am very critical of service. Really, all I ask for is that I never have to ask for a refill and my appetizer arrive before my entree. But then, knowing what I know I don't order my entree at the same time. I make them come back. At a buffet, I almost always end up stacking our plates on the corner of a table, or if it takes too long on the nearest empty table, that gets their attention. I usually over tip since we have worked in restaurants, though. That and because I have 3 and 5 year old boys who can really make a mess. The messier they are, the more I have to tip. They have to take extra time to clean up before the table can be re-sat. On a $75 buffet bill, I usually leave $10 unless the service is really good. Most of your chain restaurants like Red Lobster or whatever only let the servers have 3 or 4 tables each. I would bet that the buffets let them have more than that. I think that 10% (being the minimum) to 15% is adequate for buffets, they are coming out about even with full service dining when you consider the turnover on their tables is faster and they will wait on more tables that day and they have more tables to turn over.
If you consider a full service server with three tables and a buffet server with three tables, yes the full service server is working harder. That is why at a buffet they are allowed to carry more tables.

And don't forget these servers are only making over $2 an hour and they have side work that must be done before opening the restaurant and after closing, they are rolling all of that silver ware in the linens and making the iced tea and a lot of other stuff you are not seeing. At disney, I am going to assume that they have to travel quite a bit from their car to their place of work, and have to stop and pick up their uniform and change ( I don't think they are allowed to take their uniforms home with them). Maybe we should consider that when thinking about having to tip more for a $20 buffet than an $8 buffet. Waiting tables is not an easy job, I was SO bad at it, but I was a good hostess. But, as a poster said before, it is easy money. They can make very good money on busy nights. They can also make very little money if they are stuck working bad shifts. If you were a bad server like me, you get the bad shifts. I think that everyone who has posted on this thread is doing the acceptable thing. MINIMUM 10% on a buffet, and if you have more to give and want to, go for it.

11-10-2003, 09:51 AM
We usually tip 20% if the service is good. This is if it is a buffet or regular table service. I also always give my tips in cash when it is high school or college age kids working but put it on the credit card when it is adults doing it for a living. Someone told me once that the IRS now looks at the credit card records to see how much someone makes in tips. My spouse and I figure that the kids who are doing it to put themselves through school or who are just starting out when they are in high school with what is often a first job can have the cash while the people who are doing it as a career can have it on the credit card(smile).

11-10-2003, 11:55 AM
Originally posted by dvcgirl
Thanks for your kind thoughts Heather...I was just stating my opinion.

Every tipping guide I've ever seen or read states this fact. Tip 20% up to 20 dollars unless a sommelier is involved or a special service is required. That's the rule of thumb in the industry.

Okay, that's true that you should tip 20% on your bottle of wine, up to $20. But here's what your first post said, "We also do not tip on the entire amount of a bottle of wine at a full service restaurant. Wine is marked up so much at a restaurant (often 100% over retail) that it seems ridiculous to pay an *additional* $20 on top of a $100 bottle of wine ordered in a restaurant. So we deduct the wine, tip 20% on the rest of the bill and then throw in a few more dollars. "
So you said earlier that you DON'T tip 20%, but now are saying that you do. It just makes for a more confusing conversation - either you tip appropriately, and follow tipping guidelines, or you don't.
And yes, I know plenty of honest servers. And yes, I know plenty of servers who have been audited, so were MADE to be honest. Just FYI.
If you don't want to tip on a $100 bottle of wine, don't order it. Period. No one told you to buy wine at the restaurant. You are complaining about the inflation of the wine price - do you really think that your SERVER profits from the exorbitant price of the wine? If you don't want to tip, maybe you should just buy a bottle at a liquor store and drink it at home. If I go to a full service restaurant, or buffet restaurant, I know that there are servers who depend upon me to do the right thing by them, as far as their tips. If I'm not comfortable with that, I go to a counter service place. There are plenty of breakfast counter service places at WDW. If you think the buffet prices are too high for you to leave a decent tip, just don't go - take your business elsewhere, and let those servers wait tables who will tip them the amount they deserve.
There's no law against short changing the server who is helping you, but, as others have pointed out, there are many parts of their jobs that you DON'T see, and tipping fairly is just the right, appropriate, un-tacky thing to do.
Heather W

11-10-2003, 12:22 PM
Just a couple more points on tipping...

Someone mentioned that servers working in a tipping environment automatically must pay tax on every bill as though they've been tipped 18%. So by that formula, if you tip less than 18% you're screwing over your server because they are paying tax on money that they haven't earned.

Not true. Servers must report to the IRS the exact amount of tips they've earned *after* tipping out employees working under them or in conjunction with them. They need to be honest and keep very accurate records of this and if they do so have nothing to worry about. And then those employees must report the tips that they receive to the IRS. Servers pay tax only on the tips that they keep after tipping out.

The reporting of tip income and the IRS is more problematic for Restaurant owners and not restaurant servers. Servers must report all tips that they have earned not only to the IRS so that they can be taxed, but also to their employer, who then in turn must pay some employee taxes on their worker's income.

Apparently it was very common for servers to under-report cash tips to restaurant owners. If they under-report to the restaurant, then the restaurant can in turn under-report to the IRS. Restaurant owners never complained about this arrangement in the past. If their employess reported less to them, then they got to pay less to the IRS too!

This all worked out great until the IRS began to notice abuse of this voluntary reporting system and suspected that billions of taxable dollars were getting stuffed into servers pockets everywhere. The IRS estimated that less than 1/2 of all tips were being reported. Hey, it's tempting for sure....who wouldn't want to pay tax on only 1/2 of their income.

So instead of trying to go after each individual server the IRS decided to go right after the restaurant owners. Makes sense...there's a lot less owners than servers. And so the owners can now be assessed for employment taxes *directly* for a certain percentage on receipts regardless of what their employees report to them. So if a restaurant reports that tips made up only 8% of their receipts, the IRS will come after them for employee taxes on that other 7%. So they have in effect become the "tipping police" over their own employees. If they employees are going to lie about their income, then the IRS now makes the Restaurant pay the tax that the *server* should have paid in the first place. And, here's the kicker....if the Restaurant ends up paying those taxes through an assessment, the taxes don't even benefit the employees Social Security payments....so the server is losing out too.

If an employee consistantly reports that she is receiving 5%-10% tips at a full-service restaurant, the owner's radar goes up and he needs to figure out if he has a terrible server on his hands or a serious under-reporter.

So again, servers don't automatically pay taxes on a certain percentage of every receipt. They pay tax on the tips (after tipping out) that they report to their employers and the IRS. And 18% isn't the standard tipping percentage. 15% is still the standard. In fact the IRS used slightly under 15% in the case that they won in the Supreme Court that gives them this right to assess the owners. So basically the IRS is betting that most servers in full-service restaurants are walking away with an average of 15% in tips over the course of the year. I'm betting that they are correct.

11-10-2003, 01:06 PM
dvc: thanks for explaining that bout the irs,I remember they had changed things but did not know how, just know I got screamed at by the other servers when I reported all my tips.

I do not routinely get a bottle of wine but from the quote I thought the 20% was on a bottle costing up to $20 so that would be 4 dollars..seems fair to me for delivering a bottle...I don't usually tip 4 dollars extra if they deliver a bottle of pepsi ( just kidding)

I have to say this topic has gotten me thinking about tipping in general...do not feel sorry for WDW wait staff buffet or sit down but sure do for the lowly "shoney's" girl! I will sure tip them at least 20% unless they reek. also around here the going rate must be 15% since that is all they charge for large parties which if anything are more work.( we usually tip more than that but I kind of get a kick out of seeing that everytime it's on a bill)

11-10-2003, 01:10 PM

I did say "deduct the wine, tip 20% on the rest of the bill and then throw in a few more dollars".....okay I should have said "throw in four more dollars".....which would accurately have reflected tipping 20% on the first 20 dollars of the bottle. You got me....I was a dollar short. But throwing in "just a few more dollars" would be 15% on that first 20 dollars which would be just fine by industry standards. I did indicate that I tip on a portion of the wine however.

You asked if the server benefits by the exorbitant price of wine? Um, of course they do if you tip a straight 20% on the bottle. The server *would* benefit greatly if I tipped 20% on a $100 bottle of wine. If my bill is $200, they are working very hard to bring all that food for the first $100 of the bill (and that 20 dollar tip), but by simply opening a bottle of wine they deserve another 20 dollars? One trip to the bar to retrieve the wine, 3 seconds to open it, one small pour to taste...and that's worth 20 dollars......I think not. I'm being penalized for drinking expensive wine.

Servers work much more to bring more expensive glasses of wine to the table. If a couple has 2 good glasses of wine each, let's say it runs them $40. The server makes a minimum of 2 trips to the table for that.....assuming that the diners are drinking at the same pace.......if not it could be 3 or 4 trips. And for that they should tip $8...right? More work, less money. But the diner ordering the $100 should tip 20 for the one trip? I'll keep ordering them, just won't tip on the whole bottle.

I've never in all my years short-changed a server. I generally tip *over* industry standards which are 15% of the food bill and 15% on the first 20 dollars of a bottle of wine. We almost always tip 20%, especially at WDW where the servers are generally good.

Servers who are MADE to be honest by the IRS means only one thing....they were audited and found to have under-reported their tip income. So? How does this affect me? They should be honest. I report all income that I make to the IRS. Shouldn't they?

And as for buffet prices....they are definitely high at Disney, but I don't tip more than 10% at buffets anway. So my percentage of the tip is still 10%...just ten percent of an overpriced breakfast. Again, this is the standard for the industry.

11-10-2003, 02:28 PM
Very interesting to read the posts on this thread. People have so many different "takes" on this issue which I had never really given much thought...

I suppose, however, that my personal policy (standard 20% tip) on this issue remains unchanged. When I go to a restaurant it usually strikes me that my server works pretty hard for their money-- it seems to be physically hard work (lots of hurrying around), mentally hard work (lots of details to keep straight), and at times I'm sure the job is emotionally taxing when inconsiderate or discourteous folks must be dealt with. Additionally, its likely the type of work where the server has little control over much of how things run in their place of employ and although it may not be very intellectually demanding nor is it likely intellectually fulfilling. All in all, what I would consider a difficult and stressful job. I am a college professor and make a shamefully paltry salary but am still far better off than many people in this world. I am very grateful for the job that I have and am glad that I don't have to work in the sort of job that I go home from exhausted and drained. So I do try to cut waitstaff a break and to be as generous as I can when we dine out. To me it seems only fair to tip on the whole amount of the bill whether we order something extravagant and overpriced or not. Sure it is true that it is no harder for the server to deliver you a $50 entree than a $30 entree (nor is it any easier to deliver a $5 kid's entree than a $15 adult entree), but the convention in our society is to tip on the total of the bill. We don't tip on the number of trips the server makes to our table or the total time we spend in the restaurant or the complexity of the demands we place on our server. So whenever I look at the price of an item on a menu to see if I can afford it, I am always mentally calculating the price as the listed price multiplied by 1.2. My husband and I would probably never order a $100 bottle of wine... I would say because we could not afford to, but this is not entirely true... We just have limited funds and thats not where we'd choose to spend our money. But if we did choose to do so on a regular enough basis to have a tipping policy on it, we'd be expecting it to cost us $120... We'd feel so prosperous, I suppose, that we'd want to share the wealth!

To each his (or her) own, I suppose, but I'd encourgage folks to be as generous as possible for good (or even acceptable) service. Although you may not see the direct results of your generosity, I am sure it will be much appreciated. The place to pinch pennies is not out of your waitstaff's pockets.