Are Female Diners Second-Class Citizens At Fancy Restaurants?

The New York Times has an article today about gender and dining-out. They interviewed Steve Dublanica, author of “Waiter Rant,” and he had some unpleasant things to say about how groups of female diners are treated at restaurants.

Because men can generally put away more food and alcohol, “men spend more, women spend less,” said Steve Dublanica, author of the recent best seller “Waiter Rant.” In addition, he said: “Men eat and leave. Women eat and stick around.” So a server attending to women may have to wait longer “to turn the table over, get another group, get more tips.”

“On a Saturday night,” he continued, “you get these two ladies who walk in and say, ‘We haven’t seen each other in ages, we’re going to talk and talk and talk,’ and they’ll sit for four hours. Women are more verbal than men. That’s a scientific fact. And I’m like, ‘Ladies, I have reservations for these tables. You’ve got to go.’ ”

As a consequence, Mr. Dublanica explained, “Waiters are guilty of treating female diners as second-class citizens.”

The article also explored the reluctance of waiters to let women order wine — and their habit of delivering the bottle to the man at the table, regardless of who ordered it.

Have you been treated this way at fancy restaurants? At not-so-fancy ones?

Old Gender Roles With Your Dinner? [NYT]
(Photo: Groovnick )

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  1. Ein2015 says:

    Until restaurants pay waiters the same no matter who they serve and no matter how long each table takes… expect this to stay the same.

    Would you be all happy-go-lucky if you KNOW that the table you’re serving is keeping you from making more money? Probably not.

    • brent_r says:

      @Ein2015: That about sums it up.

    • pop top says:

      @Ein2015:

      It wouldn’t be so bad if people were conscious of the fact that waitstaff make most of their money through tips (you’d be surprised how many people really don’t know they make less than minimum wage) and had enough sense to tip more since they’re keeping the person from seating more guests.

      I’m guilty of sitting and talking to catch up with friends, but I tip well to make up for it.

      • @squinko: That’s ridiculous. It’s the RESTAURANT’S job to pay their employees, not their customers’! Why is it a good business practice to expect people to enjoy your restaurant less because they’re busy feeling bad for the employees you treat like crap?

        I want to see restaurants that pay their employees enough and *advertise* that they do!

        • dayron422 says:

          @Mary Marsala with Fries: And that overhead would readily be added into the cost of everything you eat and drink in the restaurant. Take you pick.

          • Corporate_guy says:

            @dayron422: Hilarious notion.
            There is no way we would see a 15% increase in prices. And customer service would go up because employees won’t have a reason to hate customers. Establishments that do not allow tips don’t seem to have any prices higher than other places.

    • Inglix_the_Mad says:

      @Ein2015:

      Each restaurant has an average turnover time. Should you take 2 1/2 hours and the average turnover time is 45 minutes, without ordering tons of extra sh*t, you’re also putting the wait staff at jeopardy. This is especially true if it’s busy and one poor fool ends up with all the winners. I’ve seen the host staff do this intentionally to some wait staff they don’t like.

      Some managers only care about numbers.

      • B says:

        @Inglix_the_Mad: My Aunt has a rule that she designed specifically for a buffet style brunch, but it works for other situations too. For every time the tables around you get new customers, you increase the tip by 100% of the original tip amount. So for your example, if you take 2 1/2 hours and the turnover is 45 minutes, you would leave 4x the normal tip, that way the waiter still gets the compensation, and you can stay and chat as long as you like without worrying.

        • Ein2015 says:

          @B: But does the waiter know that? No… so you get bad service and pay more for it.

          @alexawesome: I personally don’t am not offended… then again I think what sex a person is has no place in business. Although if the waiter isn’t smart enough to realize my Korean girlfriend is probably NOT named David [using a different name there] then I might consider him a failure at life. Same goes in the vise-versa scenario.

          @Inglix_the_Mad: Yup. If my waiter ever tells me his manager is a complete dick… (And they have before, because most realize quite quickly that I’m a cool guy and I want both my night AND his to be pleasant…) then I will tip him well for his service and complain to the district/regional manager. :D

          • kityglitr says:

            @Ein2015: There’s nothing wrong with being honest, and telling your server up front that you plan to take your time, and will compensate by tipping 4x the amount of one tip in order to do so. They will be happy to know they are being compensated fairly, and they will give you good service. And probably appreciate your business in the future, too!

        • Goodnightbabytron says:

          @B: That’s a good rule for compensating the waiter, but what about the restaurant? That table is a resource. If your aunt has recognized that by staying at the table so long she’s decreasing the wait staff’s earning ability, she must certainly recognize that the same is true of the restaurant.

          Restaurants have the good grace and courtesy to not charge rent for use of the tables. Comments on this board make me think they should.

    • alexawesome says:

      @Ein2015: I agree. As a woman, I find I’m not so much annoyed that my boyfriend always gets the check – and charge slip – even when it’s obviously my name on the card. The simple fact is that until we change the way things are (waiters being paid horribly and women deferring to men to pay for meals), this is going to be a common trait regardless. I have seen some brilliant tact where a wait person will deliberately set the check equidistant between parties. Smart! I can’t blame people for being unsure of who’s paying – and too many diners roll their eyes or get annoyed if you guess incorrectly. Likewise, I suspect men (in general!) are much more likely to be offended if the woman is assumed to be paying than vice versa.

  2. McDonald’s treats me like this every time I order a bottle of wine…and I’m not even a woman!

  3. Ftp1423 says:

    I waited tables for a long time and what I hated most was a group of women coming in. They split everything, didn’t tip, and stayed forever flapping their lips.

    If you were sitting in my section and not tipping me, you are affectively taking money out of my wallet because of your cheapness and occupying money making real estate for me. If you can’t afford to tip correctly for good service, stay at home.

    • Raekwon says:

      @Ftp1423: I never waited tables but I did work in a breakfast kitchen at a hotel and it was the same. The men were in and out and tipped well. The women stayed longer and tipped less. All of us in the kitchen including my female coworkers preferred the men for those reasons. None of us even thought about it as discrimination though looking back it was.

      • Elvisisdead says:

        @Raekwon: I waited and bartended for years, and can mirror the sentiment. Not a stereotype if it can be proven.

        • Scoithniamh says:

          @Elvisisdead: So prove it. You’ve got nothing but anecdotal evidence. Here’s mine: the women in my group of friends are far better tippers than the men. So that means that it’s fact that all women are better tippers, right?

    • spanky says:

      @Ftp1423: Has it ever occurred to you that at least some of the poor tipping is a self fulfilling prophesy? You have no idea what someone is going to tip until they do it.

      I tip very well as a default, but a few times that I’ve gotten really rude service, I will tip crap. And in retrospect, yeah, the times I’ve gotten really dismal service is usually when I’m with an all-female party.

      You hated a group of women coming in? Well, we’ll hate you right back then, buddy.

      • Ftp1423 says:

        @spanky: @spanky: Spanky you’re exactly right, I agree that this happen a fair share of the time. But there are two points I want to make:

        1. On several occasions I have made sure to give EXTRA good service to try to dispel this connotation myself, everytime it has resulted in the same result of fewer tips or on several occasions no tips from females (and I worked at a fairly upscale enviroment).

        2. After these failed experiments it comes down to where do I want to put my resources, because it all comes down to a bet. If I can better serve one table because I feel I have a better guaranteed tip here, I will focus on them more than a group of people that regardless of my service will not tip me well.

      • alexawesome says:

        @spanky: That makes a lot of sense. And I love to tip remarkably well (100% tip, anyone?) for exceptional service. Go above and beyond, and most of the time you’ll GET above and beyond.

      • Ein2015 says:

        @spanky: Average it out over time and you’ll see that you are just the collateral loss. They will still make more money by ignoring you.

      • @spanky: Spanky, you are *so* right on. Back when I was waiting tables, I got sick and tired of hearing complaints about how women don’t tip, and seeing waiters do everything they could to avoid those tables, that I started making an extra effort to give super service to groups of women. It helped that I was in college, and most of these women were business people so I wanted to chat them up anyway. But I found them mostly to be gracious and generous tippers. And, since I could avoid getting patted on the ass and called “honey” when I waited on women, it made my day that much more pleasant.

    • veronykah says:

      @Ftp1423: I totally agree too, which a few exceptions, strippers, bartenders and servers that are female are some of the BEST tippers. Other than that, having been a server, cocktail/bottle waitress, and bartender, women are wretched tippers as a whole. Seeing a group of women come into my bar, you just know its going to be a lot of pain in the ass drinks and little compensation. Its sad but true.
      As for the self fufilling prophecy, I treat everyone the SAME when they first come to the bar. If you leave a crappy tip, expect crappy service from then on.

      • Raekwon says:

        @veronykah: This is so true. Once I had worked in an industry that relied on tips I found that I personally started tipping much more often and with much higher tips. My friends and relatives who worked in hotels and the food service industry also have done the same.

  4. TVarmy says:

    I don’t mean to sound sexist, but it seems like there’s not much that can be done about this, unless waiters were to be paid more and be not allowed to take tips. It’s only natural for them to want to serve more tables because each table will give them a tip. It is discrimination, and it is a shame, but I think people tend to go for their own economic gain over being tolerant, and if I made as little as a waiter, I’d probably do the same thing.

    It’s a bit like how taxi drivers discriminated against black people hailing a cab until it was illegal in New York. The taxi drivers’ rationale was that black people would ask to be taken to poorer areas where less people would want a taxi ride. Just to set the record straight, I’m not trying to start a flame war, nor do I think the cab drivers or waiters are justified for discriminating.

    • azntg says:

      @TVarmy: Agreed.

      BTW for NYC taxi drivers, it is illegal in law. However, in practice, it still happens. I witnessed it happening just last week unfortunately.

    • femaleconsumerist says:

      @TVarmy: How can you claim you don’t think “waiters are justified for discriminating,” after you’ve written “I’d probably do the same thing” and justify it with the unfortunately small income waitstaff receive?

  5. Corydon says:

    I’ve heard that the people who put the biggest smiles on the faces of the wait staff are gay male couples. All the benefits of waiting on men, plus they often have more disposable income and tend to tip better too.

    • sassbrown74 says:

      @Corydon: Absolutely. And even better than couples are a group of friends who dine out regularly together and drink a lot. My friends are treated like gold at this particular restaurant they meet at every Wednesday.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Corydon: Unfortunately I can contrast that with a few stories of waitstaff who didn’t treat myself and my partner well and were overheard talking about “those fags at that table.”

      This was not in some podunk backwater either, this was in DC

  6. azntg says:

    It is still a male dominated world in some places (restaurants, for example) and slowly becoming a female dominated world in others (academia, for example).

    As much as I wish we can get equality everywhere without exception (racial, gender, etc.). You just can’t get it all everywhere, sorry to say.

    • Ein2015 says:

      @azntg: Well when the certain types of people tip differently, can you blame the servers?

    • lihtox says:

      @azntg: @GMFish: The problem with stereotypes is that people put too much faith in them, even when evidence to the contrary is presented. Just because a lot of women do these things doesn’t mean these particular women, who just entered your restaurant, are going to do these things, and if you treat them as if they will then you are being unfair, and may become embarrassed when you find out you’re wrong (i.e. they tip well, order the most expensive thing on the menu, or whatever).

  7. bobloblawsblog says:

    i am a woman. Most often times when we dine out, the waiter will let whoever ordered the wine sample it, which is pretty standard – and most often is me who orders and me who samples.

    When it comes to the check, I expect the waiter to put the check in front of them man, and im ok with that, (despite the fact that both my partner and i share our checking and savings and all our debt so it doesnt matter anyway) although I’d say 75% of the time the check is put in the middle of us, which i feel is the appropriate way to do it. usually my father or my boyfriends father), or else looks back and forth between the two men to see who claims it.

  8. ika411 says:

    When my boyfriend and I order a bottle of wine at a restaurant, the waiters ALWAYS present it to him regardless of who ordered it. I think next time I will demand to sample the wine first. :)

    • thenerdykatie says:

      @ika411:

      When I waited tables I always sold a lot of wine. I was always trained that you show the bottle to the person who orders it, when they approve of the label and cork you give them there little sip they get all fancy with. Once they approve that sip, you fill the glass for the other wine drinkers at the table and the wine orderer last. But once that person orders the bottle they are considered the “head” of the table. You ask them about checks and such. Hope that makes sense!!

  9. Murph1908 says:

    As a waiter for many years during and after college, I can concur that women often linger longer than men, and consume less alcohol.

    But there are many table types that are annoying for one reason or another. Get a table consisting solely of octogenarians? Expect to serve a lot of annoying coffee, split the check, even if everybody gets the same thing*, and hope they tip more than $1 each.

    And as a waiter, I don’t think we should all be paid the same. Do that, and forget about good service. We’ll bust our ass to refill that coke before you are done with the first if there’s a chance you’ll notice it and tip more. Take that motivation off the table, and you’ll find most servers smoking in the back with the prep cooks.

    * In one place I worked, there was a Sunday brunch. $12.95. Groups of old women would come in, get the brunch and coffee, and have the EXACT SAME TOTAL DUE, but would insist on separate checks. They couldn’t be bothered to each throw in $20 and be done with it.

    • pop top says:

      @Murph1908:

      Whenever a tipping debate comes up online, people bring up European restaurants as an example. They get paid a decent wage instead of $3/hour + tips, and they still give great service. Tips are only giving for outstanding service, and they seem happy with the arrangement.

      I know that a lot of people take waiting jobs for the chance to make great tips and the flexible hours, but it’s not like if they were paid a better wage, everyone would stop working because of lack of tips and risk their jobs.

      • EarlNowak says:

        @squinko:

        Wait, you get great service in european restaurants?!?

        All I ever get is sneers and three hour meals, where my water is refilled once if I’m lucky.

        • Madjia says:

          @EarlNowak:

          Our definition of good service is different from the US. The first time I went over to the US and went out for dinner I actually got annoyed that the waiter kept checking in on us every ten minutes! I felt like I was rushed to eat as quickly as possible. Then my boyfriend explained that that is considered good service.

          We expect waiters not to come by unless we want something, so we signal for them. Waiters don’t want to disrupt the conversations or trying to make you feel rushed. Going out for dinner is a very social ‘special’ event that is expected to take for hours while you eat several courses, taking your time and talk with your friends or family.

      • veronykah says:

        @squinko: Really? Where in Europe? I am a huge fan of Europe but I can say they are not so great when it comes to service.
        I can remember being in Italy and my friends telling me we had to flag the waitress down, despite sitting at a table, because if we didn’t get her attendion she would never come over. Same went for getting the check.

        • Jevia says:

          @veronykah: In Europe, you do have to flag down the waiter/waitress. Generally, well, at least in France, dining out is considered special and its expected to take up a good amount, if not the entire evening. It goes slowly with several courses and usually lots of talking amongst the diners. Waiters/waitresses don’t want to impose on the customers’ dining experience, so generally they will not ‘check up’ on them unless they get a signal to do so.

      • bunt says:

        @squinko: agreed. or east asia for that matter. they dont work on tips period. thus, the establishment pays them a good wage for doing their job well, and if they dont, they get canned. just like every other job in the world.

        why did this business of tips come about anyway? only the restaurant really benefits from it. and dont tell me that it would increase the cost of eating out cause to the end consumer, its the exact same cost, if not more.

      • thenerdykatie says:

        @squinko:
        In Texas you don’t even make $3 an hour. You make $2.13 and your paycheck 9 times out of 10 is non negotiable because it paid your taxes.

    • DeleteThisAccount says:

      @Murph1908: I’m hoping the coffee was at least a buck 95 otherwise a 20 would be a pretty hefty tip for a mid morning meal….

    • ShortBus says:

      @Murph1908: Why do split checks seem to be bane of existence for waitstaff?

      • daengh says:

        @ShortBus: because it takes more time & effort to produce 8 checks that is does one. And their *other* tables are not gettinge served while the multiple checks are being prepared, so lesser service *there* can result in stiill more low tips.

      • Murph1908 says:

        @ShortBus:

        Because it takes time to enter the checks into the system separately.

        Even if you have a great computer system that will split them automatically based on seat number, you still have to make change multiple times, or run multiple credit cards through.

        All this takes time, and 5 minutes is an eternity when another table is looking for you.

        • @Murph1908: This happened to me a month ago. I was out for dinner with my wife an son. Next table over (same server) had 10 people at it. They waited until the server brought the check before wanting it split into 7 checks. Then there was the question of who was picking up the appetizers, at least one round of change-fetching, then the generation and paying of 7 checks. The other tables went a good 20-25 minutes without service during this.

      • Adisharr says:

        @ShortBus:

        The time to process them is lost money for me and lower service for my other customers.

      • thenerdykatie says:

        @ShortBus:
        Because you are usually told at the end of the meal and no one wants to stop talking long enough to explain to the waiter who is with who, because God forbid you sit next to the person you came with. And if there are kids at the table they are usually running around the restaurant or in between waiters who are carrying 10 lbs+ trays of steaming hot food. At least this has been my experience.

    • GMFish says:

      @Murph1908: “but would insist on separate checks

      I’ve never worked as a waiter, but I’ve been to enough restaurants to know that it’s simply easier to give separate checks. I don’t carry a calculator with me, and it’s extremely annoying going through the bill and dividing everything up.

      However, you guys have access to a cash register, which acts as a calculator. And going to through the bill and making sure everything is correct is your job.

      If wait staff makes me work by figuring out how much I and everyone should pay, I reduce my tip substantially. If you won’t bother to do your job, why should I bother to tip you more than a nominal amount?

      • Adisharr says:

        @GMFish:

        I guess when I go out to dinner I don’t worry if I overpaid my share by a few dollars.

      • alexawesome says:

        @GMFish: It’s incredibly irritating if people don’t say up front that they want separate checks. After the meal is done and you’re leaving and suddenly, bam, “oh yeah, can you split the bill 8 ways?” That’s rude, inconsiderate and annoying. In any service job, it’s a requirement that you be polite to nasty people – that doesn’t justify nastiness, though.

        • Aladdyn says:

          @alexawesome: I would think then that you would ask a large party before they order if they would like separate checks then. You know.. the whole first time, shame on them, second time shame on you thing…

          @GMFish: Yeah I agree, one time I went out with four couples for someones birthday. Each couple sat at a table for two with each table pushed next to each other so it was a relatively simple set up. Not like we were randomly scattered. The service wasnt great but not terrible either, and when the check comes we asked for separate checks for each table. The waitress says no she cant, puts down the bill and leaves. I ask everyone if they want to just split it evenly since there wasnt a huge difference in the meals, and most ppl said no, so it took more than a half hour to work out what each couple owed, with ppl literally arguing over how much they should pay (incidentally it was the women who were inclined to argue it down to the half dollar) after finally bringing the totals over to the register since our waitress was nowhere to be seen, the lady at the register asks how come we just didnt ask for it to be split up, and proceeds to split it in about two minutes. Needless to say everyone was pissed, and the waitress lost at least an extra half hour on four tables, and got a reduction in tips. Someone decided to throw a dollar on the table, and everyone else added tips to their credit card payments. When we were out in the parking lot, the waitress came outside and yelled that she didnt need the dollar and threw it on the ground, and went back inside. After that, everyone went back in and had their tips taken back off their credit cards.

          • econobiker says:

            @Aladdyn: That is a classic bad waitress story.

          • ManPurse says:

            @Aladdyn: I am a woman and I hate the dickering over who owes what. I always prefer to just pay equal amounts if it’s more than two of us, and most of my friends agree to it.

            But oddly enough, the worst person I’ve ever met about squabbling over pennies is my best friend’s husband. He will even squabble with HER over whether he owes a dollar less than she does. It’s the craziest, most annoying thing I have ever seen as far as check etiquette goes.

            (Other than that, he’s a great guy.)

            • Aladdyn says:

              @ManPurse: sounds like me, It used to kill me to pay more than exactly what I owed for something, now I just grit my teeth and make myself be polite.

      • thenerdykatie says:

        @GMFish:
        Your the type of person I wish was kept waiting while I would have to figure out, then split and run payment on 15 different checks. You would probably be singing a completely different tune. Or complaining to the manager that I wasn’t “doing my job” because you needed more tarter sauce.

      • Haltingpoint says:

        @GMFish: You don’t carry a calculator with you? Jeez, how old is your cell phone? Anybody with a reasonably modern cell phone has a calculator.

      • AwesomeJerkface says:

        @GMFish:

        Funny you should say this. I’m so annoyed by companions that obsess with making sure everyone pays exactly what they owe that I’ll stop them, pay for everything, and never dine with that person again.

        It’s a much bigger hassle to be “friends” with someone who can’t let a few dollars slide in a few directions. It doesn’t make sense that 5 people with a $200 bill can’t just suck it up and say $40/each once in a while.

  10. TheDeadEye says:

    This is why the practice of tipping needs to go. Instead of being treated as an optional reward for a job well done, it’s turned into a trivialized expectation that does nothing to improve service.

  11. wdnobile says:

    Dont know that I buy the logic of “second class citizens” – if one group is likely to be a quick turn and the other isnt – isnt that simply good buisness? In retail if a guy walks into your store dressed like a bum and tells you he has 5 bucks, do you assist him or the guy who pulled up in the mercedes?

    • ceriphim says:

      @wdnobile: Actually, many wealthy people dress in a less flashy manner than you’d initially expect. I can’t count the number of times I’ve helped grungy skate kids when their parents come in and end up spending thousands. Call it anecdotal (cause it is), but people who come in wearing True Religions and R&Rs around here tend to be the cheap assholes.

      Of course, YMMV, but mine hasn’t in 8 years, so…

  12. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    That’s it!! I’m boycotting all restaurants until this behavior stops!

  13. jodark says:

    At a fancy restaurant female diners are typically more eye candy than paying customers. You want them around for the guys to look at, but you know they won’t contribute as much. It’s kind of a loss leader if you think about it, unless they are with a guy, then you know that he will be paying and tipping well.

    • chilled says:

      @jodark: Good point..a night club would go under without women to attract the male spenders,for example..

    • @jodark: Do you look at all the good looking men in restaurants and assume they are eye candy? Why should you assume it of the women? Honestly, why, other then basic bigotry.

    • ArgusRun says:

      @jodark: I’m sorry. I think you meant to type Hooters and not “fancy restaurant.”

      I will admit that a group of women may consume less while taking more time, but in no way are female diners in NYC(myself included) going into high end restaurants without understanding how to tip.

      And believe it or not, some women have very lucrative careers now and can afford their own meals regardless of male company.

  14. GMFish says:

    It appears that wait staff are not unfairly biased against female diners. It appears the wait staff are operating under a very rational premise, that they should do their job in such a way as to maximize their profits.

    I know that if I ran a business and had two customers willing to give me money, I’d certainly give the customer wanting to give me the most money the most attention. Everything else being equal of course.

    Female diners certainly have a remedy. If you’re going to tie-up a wait staff’s table for long time, be sure to give him or her an extra large tip. How hard is that? Problem solved.

    • dewsipper says:

      @GMFish: When it’s “girls night out”, we’re sure to let the waiter/waitress know ahead of time that we’ll be there for quite some time, so space out our meal, and that we’ll be paying “rent” for the evening.

    • camille_javal says:

      @GMFish: it can be a self-perpetuating problem, though. Server X assumes women are going to want to linger, and won’t tip well. Server X spends much of the evening ignoring my friend and me, although I am attempting to burn holes in Server X with my eyes, because I want to order something more, or I want the check. I *don’t* tip Server X well, because Server X acted like a dick to me. (I tip minimum 20-25% on good service, and will tip more when I make more money.)

  15. jscott73 says:

    Women do tend to stay longer and tip less but I always bring them the bottle of wine and let them sample it if they ordered it, though I had one women decline and have her male companion do it.

    Women also have a tendency to not notice they are the ONLY table left in the restaurant and should wrap up there conversion and leave, I mean come on I have to get up at 6am the next morning… :)

  16. loserflame says:

    When I lived in Germany and Italy, I loved the fact that if made a reservation for a table, it was yours for the night, for however long you want. If you want to eat dinner then sit and talk for 4 more hours after eating, then you could do that and no one would pressure you to leave. Their wait staff generally don’t rely on tips for salary, and so you don’t have the rush to turn tables over rapidly.

    • geckospots says:

      @loserflame: I loved this too. I passed through Copenhagen this summer for work, and we had dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant. The whole meal was leisurely and pleasant – there was quite a wait between appetizers and main course, and they were content for us to stay and enjoy our meal rather than rush us through it.

      It was an unusual and pleasant experience, and I look forward to doing it again. :)

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @loserflame: There’s one really intriguing thing I experienced in France. There was no pressure to leave, and you could stay as long as you wanted to, but there was so much activity in the restaurant, and there were always people trying to get a table that to NOT leave (or take your conversation elsewhere) was almost an inconvenience.

    • NightingaleJen says:

      @loserflame: There are several very nice, 5-star restaurants Hubby & I love and enjoy going to for special dates. Several of them will make sure we have the table for the night, but even if not, we have never, ever felt rushed or pushed to get out the door so they can turn that table over. Though for at least two of them, we always ask to be at a specific waiter’s table.

      Of course, we leave an even nicer tip than usual at these places, but of course the meal is more expensive, who can resist those fantastic desserts and wines, and as someone else has already pointed out, in truly fine restaurants, the waitstaff are pulling down some very nice salaries even without tips…Though good service should, IMO, *always* be rewarded appropriately.

      Also, to the waiters complaining about women…Try chatting them up. Ask why they are there, have they seen this new movie (or the old one you saw on TCM last week), blah blah blah. Women do like to chat, and perhaps it’s just me personally, but if a waiter of either gender is friendly to me (and I’m not a table hog, even with just the girls), my tip will get even bigger. Make a connection! Besides…One never knows who will be impressed by or remember you and return with opportunity in hand.

  17. SkokieGuy says:

    Waiter Rant also talks about women consistently tipping less on a percentage basis as well as racial differences in tipping. There have been studies done to confirm what most waiters will openly acknowledge.

    I both despise this system and also tip generously as the fault of keeping servers dependent on gratuities is completely not the server’s fault.

    If you think about it, the concept of paying someone below minimum wage and expecting them to make their living based on the optional charity of strangers is barbaric and reminds me of indentured servitude.

    It is also yet another example of trickle down economics where someone’s success in life is dependent on the crumbs of those above trickling into their outstretched hands.

    Congress and the Prez’s signature could change the law to eliminate all exemptions to existing minimum wage laws.

    Shouldn’t the waiter who serves you a $50.00 entree be entitled to a guarantee of the same minimum wage as a McDonald’s worker.

    • @SkokieGuy: Not all states do this. I, for one, was paid minimum wage when I worked as a waiter here in Nevada. I would definitely like to get a look at the studies you mentioned.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        @vivelafat:That’s good Synchro!: Consumerist is refreshing and loading, so I’m not sure if this comment will get to you.

        I have been reading wait rant for a while. A resturaunt trade group comissioned studies to dispell the wide spread rumors about some groups being poor tippers.

        Instead of dispelling the rumor, it documented the truth in what has been observed by many.

        I tried a fast search of the site and couldn’t locate, but google brought up many sites and studies.

        Regardless of the tipping issue, as a former server, do you agree that is it not unreasonble for our nation to eliminate minimum wage exemptions? You were lucky in Nevada, in many states servers are not as lucky.

        • oneandone says:

          @SkokieGuy: Thanks for mentioning the studies. I’ll try to look them up. I’m always wary when broad generalizations (and potential discrimination) are based on conventional wisdom. A lot of the discussion here seems to be a self-reinforcing stereotype, where waiters might tend to continue to notice men & women who support the stereotype, but forget the times they were contradicted. But academic studies…. they have their flaws, but I love them.

    • B says:

      @SkokieGuy: Just FYI, should a waiters compensation including tips come out to less than minimum wage for a pay period, the restaurant employing them is required to make up the difference.

  18. briancavner says:

    So what — other than restaurant wage reform — do people suggest for customers to do to combat the problem?

    I’m not a woman, but I am a college student, and I feel my fair share of discrimination in restaurant settings as well. It’s all a vicious cycle: server sees college student and assumes low tip, server provides less service, student having received poor service leaves smaller tip, server receives smaller tip and assumptions about college students are reinforced, and so on and so on.

    How do we get around this cycle? Is it appropriate to tell the server in advance, “I intend to tip well,” or is that, as I’d assume, snobbish and awkward? Should women who intend to stay only a short while let the server know so that he/she doesn’t ignore them? What are good, subtle ways to get these messages across?

    Servers don’t want to get short-changed and customers don’t want to get ignored. How can we both work together here, people?

    • B says:

      @briancavner: If there’s a restaurant you frequent, tip well even when you get mediocre service, than when you return, the server will recognize you and hopefully provide good service.

    • ARP says:

      @briancavner: I think we all appreciate your desire to break the cycle.

      I suggest that you be friendly and make a joke about how hungry/thirsty you are and if they take care of you, you’ll take care of them. There are a few subtle ways to do it without coming out and saying “Do X and I will give you a large tip.”

      You can also talk about why you’re there (We’re celebrating X) and that might help put the waitstaff at ease that you’re not going to get the cheap veggie platter and leave.

    • maines19 says:

      @briancavner: Thanks for pointing out the self-fulfilling prophecy aspect. I’m a woman, I’ve waited tables, and I believe in tipping well–but sometimes I feel I have to all but beg the waitstaff to pay attention to me, because they’ve already decided I will be a table hog and a crappy tipper. And I am not willing to overtip if I have to get up and search the restaurant to find my waiter, etc. (And when my waiter becomes scarce because he thinks I won’t tip, he is eliminating the possibility I will order more food/drink because he’s not there to take the order.) Why would I (or any Consumerist reader) fling money at someone for lousy customer service?

      It’s not just restaurants, either. Not long ago I was coming home from the airport and the driver told me what he expected as a tip, noting that he wasn’t sure I knew because women never tip “right” . . .

      • synergy says:

        @briancavner: I think for a while there some places were experimenting with putting in buttons at tables which you could hit if you needed something. This way waiters didn’t bug you if you wanted to be left alone, but also didn’t ignore you if you desperately wanted a water refill or the check. I wish they would implement this everywhere!

  19. First and foremost THANK YOU MEG! for having the courage to bring this up in this forum. Kudos.

    Second, to all of you who are saying “Well, women do tend to stay longer and tip less…..” Uhh where the fuck are your statistics on this? (yes I cussed, get over it) Or are we just running on anecdotal evidence here? Because that sounds an awful lot like a stereotype or generalization. Until you can give me hard data on the spending practices of upper middle class women in expensive restaurants I’m not convinced.

    I have been a waitress off and one for ten years, and there is no WAY I would say women are more talky and less tippy than men. I think some waiters just notice it more because it fits a stereotype.

    And finally it doesn’t matter if men or women spend more time, tip more etc. I am getting PAID by a place of business to take care of the customers no matter HOW LONG THEY STAY! That’s what I was getting paid minimum wage for. Yes! Minimum wage + tips, not all waiters are paid under minimum wage. In fact the waiters this article are referring to probably pull in close to six figures. These are not waiters and TGIF.

    • jscott73 says:

      @vivelafat:That’s good Synchro!: Do you have studies that prove they don’t tip less? SkokieGuy mentions studies that show they do tip less though a reference would be good.

      In reality though it doesn’t matter, as soon as one study comes out “proving” something another comes out to disprove it. Most of what we “know” or believe is from anecdotal evidence, that is the basis for our knowledge. Clearly it can be augmented with scientific studies but those studies can also be skewed to make whoever funded the study happy.

      Stats lie, numbers lie but experience is just that, it helps us “guess” at what is going to happen, we have survived as a species because we are quite good at that.

    • Blitzgal says:

      @vivelafat:That’s good Synchro!: THANK YOU!

      And as Brian pointed out above, waiters who openly treat their customers with disdain get worse tips as a result, so it becomes a vicious cycle.

      Also to Jscott, both Steve of Waiter Rant and Vive are working with anecdotal evidence here. It’s a little dispiriting to see so many comments accept his opinion at face value as if it is fact.

    • @vivelafat:That’s good Synchro!: I’m a woman, and I’m an in-and-out, eat and pay, let’s go chat elsewhere. I tend to give tips based on the level of service, and I must admit to giving disproportionately larger tips to male waiters (way over the 15%). I guess I do that, because male waiters are rare where I live…
      Anyways, I’m sick of all these stereotypes of women. I never like to hang around in a restaurant, you just can’t have decent conversation there!

      • @VigilanteKitteh: @Blitzgal: You two are totally right. The problem with stereotypes is that we see what we look for, and if we are looking for women to sit longer and tip less, then that is what we will find. I just find it incredibly offensive to be lumped in with over half of the population of the United States. News Flash! Women are individuals.

    • ARP says:

      @vivelafat:That’s good Synchro!: But with that sense of entitlement attitude you’ll get the minimum amount of attention to keep them out of trouble, nothing more.

      As others have stated, waitstaff make assumptions/ guesses about how people will be based on past experience and perhaps personal prejudices. It’s not foolproof, but it has some low-level validity (at least from their viewpoint). When there’s money at stake, they will inevitably use their resources on the “safe” clients. Meaning, the clients they know (or assume), will get in, eat and drink, and get out.

  20. kerry says:

    We go out to fancy restaurants pretty often, and I’m the one who orders the wine because I know more about it than my boyfriend does. I’ve never had a server place the bottle in front of him, though. They always place it in front of me and pour me a sample first. The only mildly sexist thing I see with any frequency is when I pay the bill and they put the receipt to sign down in front of him. Hey, jerk, you took it from me, please bring it back to me. I will admit, however, that I have a unisex name, so if they picked the check up from the middle of the table they have no way of knowing who paid.
    I’ve definitely encountered sexist servers, before, though. We went to Rosebud Steakhouse in Chicago a few years ago to try their burger, voted “best in the city” by the Tribune’s food critic. The waiter passed our table while I was about half done with my food and noted that I’d gotten “about as far as a typical female” with my burger. I corrected him that I wasn’t done with it and he said that I “wasn’t going to win any eating contests.” This is not a cheap restaurant, those burgers cost $15 apiece. We haven’t returned.

    • AwesomeJerkface says:

      @kerry:

      Rosebud is a TERRIBLE restaurant. Overrated like most “steakhouses” in Chicago. I came to Chicago hearing about the reputed steakhouses, and it turns out the “best” ones are all chains like Morton’s or Smith/Wollensky. Pathetic.

  21. chilled says:

    Good article,never given much thought to it…good comments..nobody got ugly..yet…

  22. Bladefist says:

    Not saying its right to treat women like that, but as a man, I do usually order the steak, and the 5 glasses of the expensive beer. I’m a gold mine ready to be tapped.

  23. Kitteridge says:

    Two things.

    No. 1: If the woman orders the wine, there’s a fair chance she’ll have a say in the final bill and therefore the tip. If you present it to the other person at the table — male or female — you’re now likely in a bad place with her. So that could have something to do with a lower tip in that case.

    No. 2: If women *do* spend so much more time talking than men, then you might consider that in the long run they’re more likely to talk up your restaurant, or even your own personal skills, to their friends, and bring more business directly to the establishment — and possibly even to your tables, if they request you — when they’re treated well. Women also often choose locations for their S.O.s; if they’ve felt badly treated, expect them not to choose yours.

    Flapping lips, indeed.

    • jodark says:

      @Kitteridge: What does S.O.s stand for in this context?

      Something else I have noticed while spending time in resturaunts, is that women tend to not be as forgiving and more offended when the wait-staff makes a mistake. I have seen and heard wait-staff complain more about bitchy women than asshole guys. Asshole guys stories are more about them making rude comments and being creepy.

      • Rhayader says:

        @jodark: Yeah I think there is something to your point.

        If I am treated poorly by a waiter or waitress, the last thing I will ever do is take it personally. I’ll chalk it up to a bad night or just a bad waiter, and maybe decrease my tip, but that will be the last I think of it.

        My girlfriend, on the other hand, will immediately internalize the waiter’s behavior and turn it into a personal conflict. In her mind, the waiter has something against her specifically.

      • geckospots says:

        @jodark: ‘significant others’.

        @Kitteridge: those are excellent points.

      • Kitteridge says:

        @jodark: I meant “Signifcant Others.” Probably was a better way to say it :)

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Kitteridge: Definitely. I’ve never exactly been treated as a “second class citizen” at a restaurant, but I have had a rude waiter on occasion. The difference between rude waiters and second class citizenry is when the waiter specifically seems to have something against the fact that you’re a woman. They have built-in expectations, whereas someone who is having a bad day will either be wise and not take it out on new customers, or he/she will just be rude.

  24. MissNikki says:

    I have never been to a fancy-shmancy restaurant but I find that when my husband and I go out to eat together, I am the one they pay attention to. My husband orders for me, pays, etc etc yet they still pay more attention to me.

  25. orielbean says:

    I would serve the bottle and pour for whomever ordered the wine. So if the man ordered, he got the wine service, and likewise if the woman ordered. Proper wine service calls for that, not to serving the man’s date first unless he asks me to do so…That’s an easy one anyways. The other issues were not as true. I found when I was friendly to the women and didn’t treat them like a tip transaction (which some male customers preferred) they would leave me great tips.

  26. Sinflux says:

    Whenever my friend and I go to fancy or even just decent restaurants they stick us in the back corner or by the kitchen. I’m 24 and he’s 25 but we both look like we’re in our teens, I figure that’s the reason.

  27. Mr_Human says:

    I once went out to dinner with a woman in Montreal. When the check came (handed to me) we decided to split the bill. She wanted to pay with her credit card, so I gave her cash for my share. When the waiter came back, my friend gave him her credit card. He looked at me, and said, “You are very spoiled.”

    I know, off topic. But sorta relevant somehow.

  28. mac-phisto says:

    slightly o/t, but the “who gets the wine/who gets the bill” observation made me think about it.

    ever notice how if a man & a woman are in line at virtually any retail establishment & the woman pays, on almost every occasion the clerk will disburse change to the man?

    quirks like that (& the observations made in this article) always intrigue me. i should have been a sociology major…

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @mac-phisto: Consumerist ate my response, but here is the gist of it:

      It happens to me almost EVERY time. It pisses me off, and sometimes I’ll be very stern about it. Sometimes I’ll make a joke like “why are you tipping him with MY money?”

  29. AshleyKeen says:

    You know, I’ve never worked food service so I can’t offer any front line stories, but I can offer this: The longer I stay at a table, taking up a table, and the better the server treats us as the night progresses, the bigger my tip gets (I’ve tipped up to 200% before on dinner and up to 500% on drinks), I also leave bigger tips after church on Sundays when I’m out with a crowd after church — regardless of how the wait staff treats us because I know how the sunday after church crowd usually tips.

    So uh, servers, just because there’s a hen party going on doesn’t mean that at least one of them doesn’t know how to be a lady.

  30. blackdaisies says:

    Almost every time we go out, the bill lands closer to my boyfriend’s side of the table, if not directly in front of him when it’s time to pay. If I pay with a credit card, the card and bill goes back to the boyfriend for him to sign. Very seldom will the bill go to me, though some times the bill is placed right in the middle.

  31. murderofcrows says:

    I know that there are exceptions to every rule, but I’m a girl and I a) order 3 courses, b) tip over 20%, and c) like to get the f out of there when I’m done eating. And usually when I order the wine, they bring me the bottle. Maybe its the confused look on my guy’s face, maybe its the killer look in my eye, who knows.

  32. NYGal81 says:

    I get that there are always going to be people who take too long, stiff the waiter on the tip (I’ve known these people, and am embarrassed for them), and are less than pleasant to serve. It’s not right, but at the same time, I don’t think there are “time limits” for your meal at most restaurants I’ve ever been to. Is it fair to shove someone out the door because they’re obviously enjoying their experience. There’s a big difference (to me, someone who has never waited tables) between lingering for 10 minutes or so after cocktails, desserts, coffee, etc., and spending hours gabbing away long after your bill has been paid.

    BUT…Let’s flip this around for a minute. Let’s take a look at tacky, rude waitstaff service. I am frequently offended when the server has decided I’m done with my meal, and presents the check before ever asking if I want another cocktail, dessert, any thing else, etc. You, sir or madam, just earned yourself less tip. I frequently order desserts and stuff (thus adding to my bill, increasing tip amount), but absolutely won’t if a server has been so inconsiderate as to suggest I’m finished without ever asking me–and I’ll probably tip you less than I would have to start with. So say all you want about people who linger and take money out of your pocket–there are a fair number of servers out there who don’t deserve the money in their pocket anyway for being assholes.

    • BytheSea says:

      @NYGal81: They give you the check before dessert or coffee because the managers make them. Some managers have stopped serving coffee at their resturant alltogether, to turn the tables faster.

      • NYGal81 says:

        @BytheSea: It doesn’t matter whose decision it is. It’s tacky and rude to tell your customers when they’re done. Foodservice is a service industry. If restaurants no longer want to provide service, and feel it’s within the right of management or individual servers to provide consistently sub-standard service and treat patrons like crap, then why should the expect the rewards of fat tips, good reviews, or recommendations to friends?

  33. SkokieGuy says:

    It is a well researched subject.

    The google is just a wealth of info!

    Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration has done extensive research on tipping behavior. So have resturaunt trade and hospitality trade associations.

    While we may not like the data, it is there.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @SkokieGuy: So it’s ok to treat people badly because of a stereotype, no matter how well-researched? Would you care to say that it’s ok to treat people like second-class citizens based on race?

      • alexcassidy says:

        @The_IT_Crone: I don’t think he’s suggesting it’s right, but in an industry where the overwhelming majority of the staff is dependent on tips, and there’s a clear correlation between race and tipping, what do you expect? They’re going to spend their time and energy on the people they think will net them the most money.

        I don’t think it’s right, and many restaurants have (toothless) policies against such discrimination, but the way the restaurant industry is now I don’t see it changing any time soon.

    • B says:

      @SkokieGuy: Show me. Find one study on Google that shows women tip lower then men and provide the link.

    • floraposte says:

      @SkokieGuy:

      I think you’re thinking of W. Michael Lynn, who did the study on race and tipping that hit the mainstream press in 2003. As far as I can tell, though, he hasn’t done research indicating any gender differences in tipping, and I’m not finding anything else in my journal indices that suggests a similar study for gender (there’s one abstract for a study that indicates men are more likely to be swayed by peers in tipping, and that was it). It could be I’m not seeing it in his articles list at

      [people.cornell.edu]

      but I’m thinking that the race study got cross remembered with something else not about tipping.

      nerdychaz, the flaw in your argument is that you’re acting as if what’s profitable for the waitperson is the same thing as what’s profitable for the restaurant. It’s not.

  34. stanner says:

    Some studies seem to show that women tip male waiters more than men do, and men tip female waiters more then women do. Go figure.

    For those that want stats, just use google. Hint: look for Handbook of Contemporary Behavioral Economics

  35. Eilonwynn says:

    It’s also interesting in light of same sex relationships. Confused looks from waitresses are FUN in that regard.

  36. G0dS4v3tehQu33n says:

    “Women are more verbal than men. That’s a scientific fact.”

    Actually, this has been proven false in a few socio-psychological studies. Both men and women feel like women are more verbal, but statistically are about the same.

  37. hexychick says:

    I can’t say I’ve been treated differently, but I’m guilty of the “we haven’t seen each other in ages” gabbing lunch. In those situations though, I know I’m dominating the table so I always leave a huge tip (ridiculously huge) and try to pay the bill early. Usually I just take it all to the bar though – that’s what they are designed for. I’m usually too cheap to splurge at a fancy place and when I do, I’m gonna sit there and enjoy every minute of it.

  38. wgrune says:

    Dick from “Third Rock From the Sun” has a good method…

  39. nerdychaz says:

    Is it really discrimination though? These women are being treated this way due to their dining habits. I am sure if a woman who came into a restaurant and ordered the biggest most expensive meal, sucked down a couple expensive drinks, tipped well, and left when she was done would be treated like a Queen at any restaurant.

    If she came in and ordered a side salad with a glass of water, stayed for two hours chatting, and left little or no tip, she would be treated like crap, not because she is a woman, but because her dining habits make her a bad customer.

    You are not profitable… Please leave.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @nerdychaz: No, they’re being treated this way for OTHER people’s dining habits. That’s the problem.

      Besides, what “dining habit” would justify always giving the wine, check and change to the man?

    • Madjia says:

      @nerdychaz: Women are always judged based on a sterotype, more so than men. We are judged for other people’s tipping habits, driving skills, personal qualities (like being talkative) and much much more

      [xkcd.com]

    • erinpac says:

      @nerdychaz: And how do you know which is profitable before the tip is already on the table? Telepathy? The salad customer might have tipped badly specifically because of the crap service you already gave. Even if she did shell out at first, that wouldn’t tell every place to give her service – and wouldn’t even guarantee that the one server remembers to not give her the apparent “treat like crap” default.

  40. csdiego says:

    Reason 58107 why I hate eating in restaurants and take every chance I get to stay away.

  41. Heyref says:

    Excuse me for saying it, but I am not dining in a restaurant for the benefit of the waiting staff. I am doing so for my own pleasure. The more the waiter or waitress tries to hurry me, the smaller their tip. On the other hand, if you let me enjoy the dinner and my companions at a leisurely pace, I will tip accordingly. American restaurants could learn a lot from those in Europe.

  42. no.no.notorious says:

    i’ve been in the restaurant industry for a long time…and it’s not just women. plenty of men sit at a table, want to take up a couple of tables (for more elbow room) and drink beer until all hours of the night. i’ve never heard other wait staff bitch about these things, unless they’ve been cut and have to wait for that one table to get up so they can clean it, and get out of the building.

  43. ReadLine says:

    I have some trouble believing this is true across the board. When I go out with girlfriends, I am far more likely to splurge on food and drink more than if I am just out for dinner with my boyfriend. And I see that behavior in many other women. I would think much more alcohol is ordered by groups of women than by couples. And a couple on a date is just as likely to sit and talk all night.

  44. Outrun1986 says:

    I would be careful with this because if you are the server and you treat a table of 4 women badly because they stayed a few minutes longer than they should have then they are likely to complain to the manager and then they will get you in trouble. As far as I know women are more likely to complain about poor service than men, not that men wouldn’t complain if the service was truly bad.

  45. BytheSea says:

    Men may tip more than women because women make 75 cents to the dollar that men make. Also, men like to play the Big Man and plunk down a huge chunk of change to impress everyone else at the table.

  46. RayDelMundo says:

    Having worked in a few upscale restaurants I can say that women are notoriously bad tippers.

    If men make 25% more than women, why don’t the eevil money grubbing employers fire the men and hire all women?

    • Blitzgal says:

      @RayDelMundo: Heh, well it’s not really that simple. A large part of pay disparity is that a lot of jobs that are primarily held by women are paid crap wages. In careers that formerly were largely held by men but now are starting to include women, men make more because they’ve been in the business far longer. And there’s even more to it than that; one could literally write several books about the issue. If you’re sincerely interested, there’s a ton of information out there and it’s very easily accessible.

  47. dynamix10 says:

    Exactly, and I am a woman! I went to dinner with a friend and her 8 girlfriends from out of town in Vegas to a nice Italian restaurant. Yup, they took forever, and at the end when the bill was presented, failed to have the waitress divide the meals, and we spent another half hour there because they insisted they split up the bill. During that half hour, the waitress had to “interview” each person to find out what they ate and how many of each thing they drank. I was appalled and embarrassed at that behavior. I also think its rude to split a bill even with 2 people, someone should have some cash if you are going Dutch. Just cover it or pay for dinner the next time. Woman are usually better tippers though, from my understanding from my bartender/waiter friends.

  48. Jetgirly says:

    Is anyone really surprised that with income disparity comes tipping disparity? I would be willing to bet that tip disparity closely parellels the average income gap between men and women.

    However, paying servers minimum wage won’t change things. In Canada servers are paid (at least) minimum wage, and tips must be paid on top of their hourly wage. Servers still moan and complain about low tips. It’s not enough to be paid $8-10 an hour- they still expect a 15-20% tip. I think serving food needs to be looked at for what it is- an unskilled, service job- and be paid accordingly. Servers don’t deserve to be paid more than the person selling swimsuits in a department store (have you ever had to pick up thirty different bikinis off the floor of one fitting room after one customer, match tops to bottoms in the correct size and color, put them all on hangers and then hang them back in the right place on the right rack?) or the person pumping gas at a gas station in the freezing snow. I think the only thing that would work would be to totally eliminate all tips, and then have diners come to realize that they get what they pay for not only in terms of food, but also in terms of service. The price of good service can be incorporated into menu prices, and people who insist on going to $9.99 all-you-can-eat buffets will get what they pay for at the table, not just on their plate.

    • RayDelMundo says:

      @Jetgirly:
      Thank you.

    • malthusan says:

      @Jetgirly: I would tend to disagree, at least in some cases. Staff at the food barns (Chili’s, Olive Garden, or other chain restaurants) might fall into your category of unskilled worker. They haul gobs of food to lots of people who want their food fast and good. Waitstaff typically get two days to a week of training before being set loose on the floor.

      There are, however, restaurants where the waitstaff are professionals, in every sense of the word. Training takes several weeks or months, sometimes years, before they’re let loose on tables of their own. They understand their responsibilities and their customers and are dedicated to providing the best service possible. “Serving food” may be unskilled labor in a food barn, but serving customers in a nice restaurant is decidedly not unskilled labor. When service is at its best, the server is never even noticed.

      To use your analogy, the clerk in a department store is unskilled labor. The tailor in a bespoke clothing store is not.

      • Dervish says:

        @malthusan: I agree that at upscale restaurants, serving shouldn’t accurately be called unskilled labor. But I would wager that these well-trained servers (apprenticed, maybe?) don’t fall into the category of people to which Jetgirly was referring, who make $5-$10/hour. Or do they? The only place I’ve ever waitressed is (unfortunately) at such a food barn chain, so I don’t have any experience with wages at better restaurants.

  49. kmw2 says:

    The only time I was ever treated like that is at Helmand, an Afghan restaurant in Boston. I went there for a nice dinner with my boyfriend, and I swear the waiter didn’t even look at me – my boyfriend was forced to order for me in order to summon me any food! The food was nice, but we’ve never gone back.

    • econobiker says:

      @kmw2: Sounds like that restuarant imported the “women are property” attitude along with the menu from Afganistan. I am surprised they didn’t hand out burkas for women at the door like some US restuarants used to require men to wear suit jackets back 35-40 years ago…

  50. NightingaleJen says:

    One thing a lot of commentors have asked about is “Why tip at all?” But once upon a time, tipping was done *prior* to the meal; “TIPS” stands for, IIRC, “To Insure Proper Service”. once upon a time diners would tip prior to the meal.

    Recently I read a suggestion that diners begin giving $5 to their waiter/waitress right at the start, and promise more at the end if good service is received.

    (I suppose some staff probably think $5 is paltry, but if that is just part of a promised tip, and one gets it right off the bat…Good service provided, of course. I have had some AWFUL dining experiences, and as someone who really loves leaving a big, healthy tip behind, not having any reason to do so bums me out. Fortunately, most waitstaff are very hard-working and attentive.)

    • econobiker says:

      @NightingaleJen: My parents tried that once upon a time when they were poorer and we didn’t eat out alot. It seemed like we got better service but I don’t remember why they stopped doing it…

  51. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I tip well, which means at least 15%. I never go under unless the service is just absolutely the most atrocious service in the world, and even when I did get that, I tipped 10%. I always tip, and that goes to restaurants and salons. Whenever I get a pedicure, I never assume that these people (generally women) do this because they just love filing down someone’s dirty and nasty feet, or they are there because it’s supposed to be what they’re doing. Tip well, go often enough to be noticed, and you’ll form a relationship that will establish the possibility of freebies later on.

    For instance, two or three weeks ago I went to the salon. The person I usually saw was on vacation, so I had to book with someone else, someone I didn’t have previous experience with. This person was recommended to me by a staff member, and let’s just say my experience wasn’t to the level I normally expect. It wasn’t terrible, but for the money I was paying, I expected better. Tonight I call to set up another appointment, since my regular person was back from vacation, and I happened to offhandedly mention that my previous experience was bad. The person I was speaking too immediately comped my next visit. I was impressed, and will be telling friends about my experience there.

    The best part about it was that I wasn’t even calling to complain. I just wanted to set up an appointment, and she went above and beyond on the matter to retain me as a customer. I’m actually currently telling two people.

    • NYGal81 says:

      @IHaveAFreezeRay: In some parts of the country , 15% isn’t “tipping well.” I just read in Bon Appetite (for what it’s worth…their word isn’t always gold) that in some areas of the country, anything less than 20% is considered cheaping out even if the service is bad, 20% is standard, and 25%+ is for “better” service.

      I disagree with BA that 20% is a server’s “right,” especially if the service is terrible–not just “bad,” but downright awful. It might be good to know, though, what the general tipping customs in your area are so that you know if you really are “tipping well.”

      And, lets face it, in the current state of the economy, fewer and fewer people are going to have the financial comfort to dine out, so servers are going to be making less as a result. Is that my fault or your fault? No, but it might be a nice time to throw an extra buck or two their way if we can, and if the service was good.

  52. GeoffinAround says:

    Another former server here – first at a breakfast diner, then at a small, expensive Italian place.

    Really just wanted to add to the anecdotes. Groups of women stay long & demand far more attention. The older they are, the worse they tip. Good news is, you can give them just reasonable service. Anything extraordinary typically isn’t rewarded with more tip.

    But old people are the worst, bar none. I remember one incredibly friendly couple, I think they were in their 70s. They ran a $60 tab, & I chatted them up, we had a great time, laughing & all that. As they were getting ready to leave, we were still talking & I noticed the woman taking the bill, scribbling out a number & putting it back.

    The original tip they gave me for a $60 meal was $6.00. She had scribbled a tiny circle under the first zero, so now I was getting $6.80. How nice of them! 30% at this place was not uncommon for me, so experiences like these were a bit humbling.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @GeoffinAround: If I were her, I would’ve put just scribbled the entire thing out and put a new number down. But then again, I’m in my 20s and I tip fairly, if not well. I hardly have the extra money to be tipping 30% but I’ll tip fairly.

      I don’t like cheap people, and I understand that for old people, cheap is just how they are sometimes. The concept of money and cost of living is how you lived when you were probably 50, so once you’re past that age, whatever seems too much from your decade is too much for you to pay, and I suppose to most of the elderly, service comes with a smile but it’s okay for service to leave with an empty wallet.

  53. mythago says:

    So from the waiter’s POV, the ideal customer walks in, spends a lot of money on food and drink immediately, and leaves as soon as possible after leaving a big tip.

    Does this sound like the ideal fine dining experience? Maybe it’s just me, but if I’m in a hurry to eat and run, I don’t go to an expensive establishment. I get that the problem is the way the system is set up, but I’m floored at the comments suggesting that the problem is the customers for failing to get their asses out of your way fast enough.

    Gee, I think I see another reason some people don’t get tipped.

    • Dervish says:

      @mythago: Absolutely! I used to wait tables in high school/college, so I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the challenges and frustrations associated with being a server. I tip well, even for less than stellar service, because I realize that it’s a difficult and sometimes thankless job. But I’ve never understood the resentment aimed at a party that lingers for too long.

      I’m eating in a public establishment. Nowhere does it say that I’m only allowed to stay for a specific amount of time after I’m done eating. I’ll tip you for it accordingly, but I have every right to be there.

      Every job has its frustrations. Just because I run into certain roadblocks at work, doesn’t mean that it’s OK to do my job any worse or any shoddier.

  54. ZoeSchizzel says:

    The best tippers? Former waitstaff – male or female. I frequently dine with a group of women, some of whom are struggling financially and work HARD for their money. All of us have waited tables at one time or another. We do tie up a table for long periods of time, but only in restaurants that are not waiting to seat other diners, and we tip BIG!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @ZoeSchizzel: I had a professor who would tip her students upwards of 30% when they went out to eat. She said it was because she could spot her students and whenever they were waited on by one of them, she knew how hard they were working to study, do well in school, and make ends meet, and she said it was her way of helping them out.

      She was one of the greatest professors I’ve ever had, truly an inspiration to those who desire to help other people.

  55. baristabrawl says:

    I guess you go where the money is. When I used to work at Pizzaria Uno we would turn the A/C up pretty high in the summer so that people would not just sit around. If you want to make any money, you have to turn tables…a group of people sitting chatting does not make money.

    • floraposte says:

      @baristabrawl: Actually, the scholar that SkokieGuy was alluding to on the previous page (whose page I linked to) notes that that’s not universally true. If the restaurant is packed, waitstaff make money from turning tables, but if it’s not, waitstaff make money from upselling. Except at full times, you’d have made more money from pushing dessert than from pushing people outside.

  56. lihtox says:

    No offense intended, but I wonder if fat people get even better service, given their reputation for having healthy appetites (and a greater tolerance for alcohol)?

  57. courtneywoah says:

    I’m a waitress and I am never sexist about who gets the bill/orders the wine. I am guilty of rolling my eyes when I am sat a table full of women. It’s not that they tend to sit there all night and hold up my table, rather they don’t tip for $hi* and they are usually rude. I can’t even introduce myself (company policy) without someone blurting out their drink order or interrupting me with a question. Keep in mind all customers do this, but the no tipping is usually done by women (sorry to say!) and of course this does not apply to everyone so please don’t get offended.

  58. saxxtreme says:

    I have to say I have been guilty of this as a waiter and it is a true stereotype. Waiters dread getting sat with groups of women, as they sit and talk for long periods of time and generally don’t tip as well as men. Example: 2 weeks ago I had a group of 3 women sit at a table and drink and talk for about 3 hours, ran up a bill of around $125, mainly on drinks, and barely left me 15% after splitting the check 2 ways. The same day I had a group men (4) ring up roughly $100 worth of food, were there for barely 45 minutes, and left me $25. I treated both of these parties the same, yet the end result was much different.

  59. parrotuya says:

    I used to wait tables. The worst tippers: Old ladies, black ladies, lunch ladies and frat boys. So the story is correct, they yak too much and don’t tip very well or at all. That is why waiting tables sucks.

  60. fonfa says:

    That’s not a reason to be rude.

    Actually, I think there isn’t a single reason to be rude at a customer. No matter what.

    Stop being so bitter and materialistic. What’s the problem if some people don’t give tips? Sometimes a good chat with a customer is worth more than money.

    • fonfa says:

      @fonfa: Forgot to say that I worked as a waiter and partially enjoyed it. Loved dealing with customers and hated dealing with boss.

    • zibby says:

      Oh Good. Another article that mentions tipping. That means that we get to hear from the hardcore 30% or so that have closets full of Warsaw Pact-era Bulgarian panties from fatwallet ($1.99 a dozen, lol) and think that a server should supplicate themselves entirely for (ideally) no tip at all.

      Or maybe it’s not shaping up that way? Right.

  61. Saboth says:

    Women: Much much more picky about what they get, causing more time to be spent on them. “Ugh…I ordered this slightly medium rare, and it is obviously medium rare…send it back!”

    They talk 3x longer then men, whereas men want to eat then gtfo. Women are much harder to appease, and if anything isn’t to their liking, they will leave a lower tip. Not to mention they order lighter fair, like salad and water, which also lowers the tip over say, a man taht orders a 16 oz steak and 3 beers. Just do the math…$8 salad vs $25 worth of food at 15% tip.

    Anyone that has seen “Waiting” and has worked in a restaurant knows that movie is on the money.

  62. Ninjanice says:

    It annoys me to no end that when my ex and I would go out, or even when we go out now, servers will always give him the bill even if I asked for it. I will even say to bring ME the bill, not US to be very specific about who is paying. They will always bring the bill to him. Then if I pay with a credit card, they’ll bring it back for him to sign. If I pay with cash, they’ll try to give him my change. It’s insulting that the server either thinks I cannot afford to eat there or that I wouldn’t tip well.
    When I go out with my female friends, we do tend to get crappier service. It’s really silly on the server’s behalf because we all tip very well, don’t ask for separate bills, don’t linger too long, etc. Most of my friends were servers in college and some still bartend or serve. We know how annoying customers can be, so we don’t do that stuff. Most of the paces we gotoanymore are places that we know we’ll get good service at. These places are more than happy to have us there and servers have told us that they like when we come in.

  63. zibby says:

    Who the hell wants to sit around in a restaurant and talk for ages after they are done eating? Doesn’t that feel…odd?

    Go to a nice bar/lounge or something.

  64. EricLecarde says:

    I have a habit of letting the waiter/waitress know how long we intend on being around. If its breakfast, I subtley hint to them we won’t be long. If its Friday night dinner with a few of my friends, I let them know we’ll probably be in there at least 2 hours. When I know its going to be that long, I give them a 5 to let them know I’ll tip well. This also almost insures that I’ll get great service, and by the end of the night, we usually drop 20 or 30 for tip depending on just how long we’ve stayed.

  65. dveight says:

    Wow, I love how some of the women are bitching about not getting the check/bill. Guess what women, you really don’t have anyone to blame but yourselves. Seriously, when you go out on a date with a guy, truly, how many of you are expecting to pay for the meal? I know I’m going to get bombarded with messages saying “I can pay for myself!” but that is not my point. Many women out there are more then willing and even expecting for the men to pay on a date. True, this is not to say that all women do this, but the majority will. This isn’t true for the couples in a long term relationship, but for first couple of dates, it is.

    Now for people stating that women make less then men, yeah it’s true, but look at it as a surcharge; like when people are on a sinking ship, it’s always women and children first. Hostage situation? Release the women first. etc, etc, etc.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @dveight: The problem isn’t about who actually pays the bill, it’s that the waiter makes an assumption about who pays the bill. There should not be an assumption made about who controls the money, or how finances are spent.

    • Madjia says:

      @dveight:

      If I ask someone out, I pay.

      It’s ridiculous that women are always judged by the stereotype, because by now that’s exactly what it is. No longer does the majority have men pay for their date.

      I don’t know any girl that lets a man pay for dinner. Maybe it’s because I’m in Europe or something, but seriously it’s so outdated.

      This is how that sterotyping works:
      [xkcd.com]

      • kingofallcosmos says:

        @Madjia:
        When I was dating, if the woman paid for her share it was a sign that she wasn’t interested in a follow-up date. That sounds like a European thing because if the man doesn’t at least assume that they will pay for the first date, none of our female friends would go out with them again because the guy is demonstrating a cheapskate behavior. Same with bad tipping.

        I will say that I do still feel guilty about one girl that paid for her share on the first date and I assumed that she was uninterested because I ran into her about a month later and I could tell that she would have wanted to go out again. In general, it is a good rule of thumb though, but I point out this counter example to indicate that I understand that none of those stereotypes are universal.

    • erinpac says:

      @dveight:
      I don’t care about not getting the bill the first time… but if the waiter takes the credit card from me, with an obviously feminine name on it, why return it to him (or my change, etc)? At that point they’ve guaranteed that they’re wrong – the first bill is a guess, and it makes sense to guess the male, or just leave it centered on the table.

  66. whitecat says:

    I’m a single woman and I eat out by myself frequently. I usually get offered the worst possible table (in the flow of traffic, near the kitchen, behind a post) and I usually ask for a better one. I drink wine (usually two or three glasses) and I don’t linger (what for?). I tip well (at least 20% for average service).

    The trouble is that these stereotypes about women diners allow waitstaff to get away with treating me poorly. They don’t expect a good tip from me so they don’t make an effort. Then when their tip reflects the poor service I got, they assume it’s because I’m a woman and not because of their poor service.

    I’ve taken to writing notes on the check: “I normally tip more but you gave me poor service.” I’ll add specific details, such as “You got my order wrong, you didn’t bring me flatware, you ignored me, etc.” If it’s really bad, I’ll go home and write an email to the restaurant.

    If I’m treated well, I note it on the check and tip generously.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @whitecat: I like how this actually does sort of work because the receipt has to be cataloged and counted at the end of the night, and it’ll be the managers who do this, and who will see the messages..if they catch on that there are a number of complaints, there’s nothing the waiter can do about it other than avoid tables which have female patrons.

  67. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    What annoys me is when my husband and I go out and the waitstaff blaitently ignores me, in favor of chatting him up and refilling his glass X number of times, meanwhile my water is dwindling and I’m getting annoyed that they’re taking up the time chatting with him when he should be chatting with me, as we are out to dinner together for a reason!

    When this happens I tell him to tip less, regardless of the service he received, I received crappy service and we tip accordingly.

  68. Dervish says:

    After reading through all the comments I can see the situation from both sides, but I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for those who treat parties differently based on perceived future tip.

    I know waiting tables is difficult and thankless work, but every industry has its downsides. For my job I frequently have to run Sunday startup plant trials, which means that I lose half a Sunday traveling to the plant so I can be there from 11 at night to 9 the next morning. It stinks and it’s usually dirty, frustrating work. Some people work on packaging lines, where they sit for eight hours and pack fresh donuts into a box…over and over and over. Some people clean toilets for a living.

    Every job has its crappy aspects, but it’s not an excuse to do your job worse. If I decided to do a crappy job on a project because I thought it was thankless and wouldn’t go anywhere, I’d get fired.

  69. Vegconsumer says:

    I am a (female) server. From my experience:

    Groups of men are not necessarily going to tip you well. Many times with my groups of men, they are on a conference and cheap as hell. Some are nicer.

    I will be honest- if I get sat 5 women, my heart sinks. Here is the order about 80% of the time with groups (usually 5 or more) women:
    Waters, no appetizers, split dinners, and no dessert. Hogging the table for an hour and a half or more, and tipping minimum. Don’t know how many times I have gotten the check, cleared it, got my crappy tip and they were still there talking. That’s when I go around them and remove *everything* off the table that doesn’t need to be there. Every fork, napkin, etc. Get the hell out if you tip poorly.

    It’s not that the men are better tippers. It’s that you can get men in and out (generally) and they do tend to drink more, and you can at least keep feeding them drinks because most of the time if they are staying and chatting, they’ll be drinking as well.

    Mixed gendered tables tend to tip better. Also, one thing- if someone is loud about paying for someone else’s dinner, as in “oh no, let ME get that”, they aren’t good tippers, generally. Don’t know how many times I’ve had some guy congratulate himself and try to impress his friends and then screw me over.

    Take care of your staff people and they’ll treat you well. :)

  70. synergy says:

    I don’t think it’s treating women as “second class citizens” if it’s a place that takes reservations. If a group of men were sucking up time on a table with a reservation, I’m guessing they would get the boot too.

  71. Petra says:

    Just for the record, I’m a woman, and the second I’m finished dining I want my check! :) But older women are awful sometimes…my husband and I went to our local Applebees late at night, and we were seated right next to the only other occupied table in the house. I didn’t mind at first, because they were paying and I assumed they were getting ready to leave. But then they started up a conversation about ‘the healing powers of crystals and turquoise’ and our waitress decided to get in on the conversation…

    She didn’t even bother to get our food, the cook brought it out and literally slammed the plates on the table (he looked pretty ticked off). Our food was cold and awful, and there was no condiments or silverware. We turned to ask our waitress for cutlery, and she literally held up her finger in the ‘just a second’ fashion and waited until she had finished talking to the ladies before she went to get some. Then she went right on back to talking to them…through our whole meal. Not once did she ask us how everything was.

    I was so tempted to just get up and walk out in the middle of our meal, but my husband and I are weird about stuff like that and knew we’d feel guilty about not paying, even if the food and service were both low-quality…but we did get back at her! After dinner we were going to go to the bank because my husband had discovered that he had a huge jar of change in the closet. Since the waitress was STILL talking to the elderly ladies in the other booth and we were waiting for our check, we decided it would be fitting to pay the waitress entirely in 10¢, 5¢, and 1¢ coins. It took awhile, but boy was it worth it to see the look on the waitresses face as she counted it all out!

  72. truebluesue says:

    I am female and me and my girlfriends can eat and drink with the best of them. We always tip 20% or more…..but I have found discrimination on several occasions, which of course reflects in the servers tips
    ( myself a former server )The other day a friend and I were at a bar watching the game, we were the only women at the bar. The bartender (female) brought out complimentary pizzas to all the men at the bar and completely overlooked us! When I questioned her on it she brought us a pizza, but she pretty much threw it at us.