Restaurant Tipping

About a week ago I came across an article online explaining that some restaurants were doing away with having customers tip the waitstaff.  Instead, this particular restaurant increased the cost of each meal on the menu by 15% and asked patrons not to leave tips on the table (in fact, when customers still left tips they were chased down by waitstaff to return the money!).

As you can imagine, the article interviewed many restauranteurs, a few on either side of the tipping debate.  One particular restaurant owner, who was in favor of the no-tip movement explained his support this way:

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Calculus?  Really?  To figure out how to leave a tip?  Now, we know he didn’t really mean calculus.  We know he was just trying to say that for some people, figuring out how much of a tip to leave can be complicated.  In fact, its so complicated that people who are out trying to enjoy a nice leisurely meal shouldn’t have to be bothered by “doing the math” so to speak.

But here’s the thing, doing restaurant math isn’t hard.  

Let’s say you go out to eat with your friends and the bill is $50.00.  If you’re leaving tip that’s 10% of the total, you leave $5.00

So, the 10% is going to be the baseline that we work off of.  (You know how I got $5.00, right? . .  . Move the decimal 1 place to the left).  Now, we know that $5.00 is 10% of the total; so if we want to leave a 20% tip we should double the amount and leave $10.00.  If we want to leave a 5% tip, we should leave half of that amount (in this case $2.50).  How, what if we wanted to leave a 15% tip?  I know 10% is $5.00 and 5% is $2.50, so 15% must be $7.50.

If you look at this “tipping table” posted on CNN money (written by Emily Post), you’ll see that once you can figure 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% of your total bill (always excluding tax) you can figure out a tip in any given situation.  No calculus (or cell phone calculator) needed!

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Now, you might say:
“Yeah, but you picked a nice round number for your example. My restaurant bills are never like that!”

OK, OK.  Good point!  So let’s say your bill was $23.18.  Now, take 10% of the total ($2.31).  The 20% tip is easy ($4.62).  The 5% might be a little tricky, only because $2.31 doesn’t divide evenly . . . that’s OK.  Call it $2.30, half is $1.15.  So 15% would be about . . . $3.45 or you could just be nice and round it to $3.50 (or you could very, very precise and leave a tip of $3.46).  But see, you can do it!

Now, go out dinner and practice your new-found tipping skills!


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