Are San Francisco Restaurants Actually Pushing To Make 25% The Standard Tip?

Earlier this week, a writer for the San Jose Mercury News posted a story claiming that wait staff and high-end restaurants in San Francisco are behind a move to make 25% tips standard across the city. But is this actually true or just hype?

As the San Francisco Chronicle points out, the Mercury News story only cites “media sources,” but no actual statements from these sources, though there are many quotes from outraged diners.

He also doesn’t explain how the 25% standard would be enforced. Would this be legislated? Or would a group of restaurants get together and agree to making 25% tips mandatory on all their checks?

Writes the Chronicle:

Inside Scoop has reached out to nearly 20 San Francisco restaurants and not one has heard of said movement. In fact, many of the chefs/operators had a good chuckle upon having the article — err, those two sentences — read to them. Another joked that maybe the East Bay paper is trying to drum up support for East Bay restaurants.

It could also just be someone trying to ride the wave of the recent Zagat survey that named San Francisco the worst city for restaurant tipping.

Since we’re almost all based out here in New York, we’d love to hear from anyone in the SF restaurant business as to whether or not they’ve heard of any actual movement to make the 25% standard.

OK, are restaurant staffers really demanding a 25% tip standard? [SFGate.com]

Ed Arnow: San Francisco restaurant workers support 25 percent tip standard [MercuryNews.com]

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  1. chiieddy says:

    I’d love to hear this too. We’re heading to SF for vacation in 2 weeks time. I generally tip 20% for EXCELLENT service.

    • taney71 says:

      Agree. People need to realize that one can vary the percentage one tips based on service.

      • veritybrown says:

        I’ve tipped up to 50 percent for really exceptional service. Bad service usually gets a tip of 8 to 10 percent fro me. Standard service gets between 15 and 20 percent. Any restaurant that demanded a 25 percent tip and didn’t offer excellent service in return wouldn’t get my business.

    • sponica says:

      20% is my standard tip for servers I don’t know….but I’m biased because so many of my friends are bartenders/waitresses and it’s astounding how many people will drop 80 to 100 dollars on cocktails and tapas and leaving a 2 dollar tip

      my friends and my regular bartenders get something like 30-35% percent

      • mindaika says:

        “A bartender in an average bar will typically earn $15.00 $30.00 an hour between their wages and tips. “

        That means your average bartender, who spent a few weeks in bartending school, is making as much to 2x more than I do as a research scientist with 4 years of college.

        • anduin says:

          this, why are people complaining that they’re earning $15-$30 for relatively unskilled work? I worked as a server for one server and made no less than $20 an hour after tips and thought that was fantastic compared to what I would have been making if I had worked in a lab making something like $12 an hour. This is starting to look like gouging and is becoming more and more of the reason why I avoid restaurants that force tips or do the lame mandatory 15% or more for tables of 6. I even saw a restaurant last week that was pushing that for tables of 4….I mean cmon.

          • nakago71 says:

            If you were seeing tips that good, odds are you were in a nice establishment. Diners, dives, etc., tend to offer lousy tips. Nice establishments bring better money, but the ratio of staff to server is less favorable and you have to put up with a LOT to bring that in. I’m glad you made that much, but consistently pulling in tips like that is rare – generally a shift offers a few really good hours, and a lot of lag time, unless it’s something fantastic like Friday night.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          Plus it’s not exactly precision work, like lab work, and you can eject total assholes from your place of business, which you can’t do as a research scientist.

        • pythonspam says:

          There’s a good chance they aren’t averaging $30 per hour and working 40 hours per week

        • kaplanfx says:

          This can’t be right. I usually tip $1 per drink, even if the bartender only opens a beer. That seems to be the going rate around here (yes I’m in the SF bay area) and if you don’t tip it’s much harder to get more booze in a crowded bar. That would mean they are serving only 15-30 drinks an hour? Or is everyone just tipping WAY less than me?

          • Round-Eye 外人はコンスマリッストが好きです。 says:

            I think a lot of it comes from people running tabs. I, for one, tend to tip as you do ($1/drink) unless I’m running a tab. When I run a tab and I close it out, I’ll tip 20% as I’ve probably lost count of drinks ordered and I’m probably not sober. So, on second thought, it’s probably from a lot of drunks over-tipping.

    • IgnoramusEtIgnorabimus says:

      yeah 10% is what i do unless the person jumps over hoops, I’m not a walking employment office, I’m just there to grab a bite, having 25% standard tip would keep me out of any non-client related restaurant eating

    • Snoofin says:

      I dont ti[ anything when Im on vacation. Ill never go back so I dont have to worry about them spitting in my food.

      Why is the US the only country where tipping is supposedly necessary.

      Why arent restaurants required to pay a normal wage like every other business. They already have a much higher profit margin than most types of business selling coke for 2.50 a glass that cost them 2 cents, $6 beers that cost them about $1 and overpriced foods

      • Difdi says:

        The fact is that that’s the law. Express your disagreement with the law by writing to congress, not by screwing over less-than-minimum wage folks who did nothing to deserve being screwed over by you.

        • joako says:

          What law mandates gratuities?

          • Difdi says:

            The tax code. But what I was referring to was the employment law that allows less than minimum hourly wage to wait staff.

            • IgnoramusEtIgnorabimus says:

              built on an embarrassingly stupid concept, the reason why its called gratuity is because the person has done something beyond expectation, writing down my order and bringing it to me in exchange for me paying for it is exactly what is to be expected of any business, do you tip at walmart for bringing you something out of the warehouse? if you don’t want to pay for waiters then just let me grab it from the counter like boston market or drop your prices to mcdonalds standards and ill pay for the assistance out of pocket… if, on the other hand, you expect me to pay the waiters then where is all that extra money you’re charging going?

              • jiubreyn says:

                Your logic would be sound for something at Walmart but with a restaurant the server is SERVING you. You sit at your table and wait for them to bring you any free items (chips, salsa) your drinks, your food, clear the table, bring you your check.

                They’re not simply bringing something out of the back ONCE and handing it to you so you can walk across the store to pay for it. BIG difference.

                • IgnoramusEtIgnorabimus says:

                  you my friend are thinking of butlers, butlers “serve you” they fetch everything, run your bath, put on your clothes, answer the door and a lot of other tedious tasks

                  waiter functions
                  -recommend item
                  -write order
                  -deliver order
                  -take money
                  -wipe table

                  walmart employee
                  -copy your bikes tag
                  -bring bike
                  -push bike to register
                  -take money
                  -correct bike back on the rack

                  pen store clerk
                  -retrieve pen from shelf
                  -ink pen
                  -recommend next pen
                  -copy tag
                  -bring pen
                  -wipe pen
                  -collect money
                  -stamp booklet
                  -clean display case

                  computer assembler
                  -help with order
                  -collect part numbers
                  -verify compatibility
                  -collect money
                  -test fit
                  -boot up
                  -install base system
                  -package system

                  mechanic
                  -identify issue
                  -replicate issue
                  -estimate cost
                  -order parts
                  -repair issue
                  -test drive
                  -wash car
                  -collect money

                  why is the first item a “tip” mandatory item while the other 4 are tip COMPLETELY voluntary if not uncommon if those people devote much more work and time to the exchange?

                  • jallopy says:

                    This. If you think it is unfair to the servers, then they should take it up with their bosses or congress men. I am not responsible for the miseries of every one around me.

        • Tallanvor says:

          Why isn’t everyone in the food service industry writing/calling their congresscritters? If they aren’t taking the time to do that, why should I?

      • BocaMan says:

        You are the reason that some restaurants tack on the 15-20% service charge!

      • andsowouldi says:

        I’m not sure what country you live in, but the restaurant business is not striving here. I see three new restaurants every six months and then three closed restaurants four months later. Maybe the chains like Chili’s, Outback, etc. are doing okay, but right now is not the best time for any restaurant.

  2. dolemite says:

    They can push for whatever they want, but they are getting 15% pre-tax when I eat out. If service and dining experience is out of this world: 20%.

    I understand the economy is rough and things cost more due to inflation, but I’m not your boss; if you want a raise for doing the same job you’ve been doing, go talk to him.

    • HoJu says:

      Pretty much this.

    • Tim says:

      Servers have to pay taxes on tips, just like any other income. Sure, they could try to avoid it, but it’s a lot more difficult with almost everything on credit cards.

      • HoJu says:

        So? Just because they pay tax on tips doesn’t mean I should pay tips on tax.

      • longfeltwant says:

        Uh, they are “supposed to” pay tax on tips. Most servers pay taxes on tips when the tips are put on credit cards; but I’m pretty sure almost zero servers pay taxes on cash tips. Maybe literally zero. I bet it’s the same number as people who pay taxes on earnings from garage sales.

        • pegr says:

          Income from garage sales are not taxable, as you are recovering a portion of the initial purchase price, money that was taxed already.

          • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

            To go down that road a bit further … technically, most garage sale transactions are a loss on a non-capital asset, which cannot be deducted on taxes (only CAPITAL losses can be deduct, with specific rules). So there’s nothing the IRS would expect you to report after your garage sale.

            Now if you happen to have a gain on a non-capital asset (you sell your belt buckle for 10K for some reason), the gain would be taxable.

        • veritybrown says:

          Since restaurants are required to take payroll taxes out their employees’ tips, I would think that the IRS would get very suspicious if no tips were reported.

        • drmcarthur says:

          Income from garage sales are not taxable, as it is a tax on the profit, and there is no profit when buying at $100 and selling for $5.

    • agent 47 says:

      Same here. I don’t get a raise, neither do you.

    • bluline says:

      Agree. If your boss pays you poorly, that’s between you and your boss. A tip is a reward for providing good service (which the waitperson is supposed to provide anyway). In no way is a tip an obligation to boost your base salary. If you don’t like your salary, speak to your boss or seek a job in an industry that will meet your needs. You have a choice.

    • Jawaka says:

      If this does pass I wouldn’t be surprised to see restaurants petition to be able to pay their waitstaff even less because they’d likely be getting tipped more.

  3. Lethe says:

    Would they even make it standard? Make every restaurant in the city automatically add tips to their bills? That would piss off more than a few customers.

  4. Coffee says:

    I kind of doubt this would happen, but I never worked at a high-end restaurant, so for all I know they may be that arrogant. I seriously hope not, though…

  5. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    You want a tip? Don’t cook bacon naked.

  6. zerogspacecow says:

    I generally tip between 20% and 30%. Doesn’t have to be exceptional service, just not bad. If it’s mediocre or even bad, I’ll tip like 15% to 20%.

    But I’d have a hard time believing anyone would insist on a 25% “standard,” even though I don’t think that’s a reasonable tip.

    • zerogspacecow says:

      * “do think that’s a reasonable tip.”

    • alaron says:

      You tip %20 for bad service? Thanks for subsidizing the restaurant industry for me. I’ll stick to my “tip-for-service” philosophy.

    • The Twilight Clone says:

      Says the guy reading the consumer advocacy website.

      Holy shit. 15-20% for BAD service. You remind me of a friend who goes out of his way to spend money and actively shames people for tipping any less than 20%.

    • Henry Brzrki says:

      I tip myself at home, generally in the 40 to 60% range.

  7. teke367 says:

    Well, that’s just silly. 20% is generally viewed as the “really good service” tip level, so requiring even more is unlikely. And California generally has lower tipping standards as they get paid at least real minimum wage (though I don’t see why that means many people think 10% is a good tip instead of 15%)

    San Franciso can’t really be that out of touch.

  8. conquestofbread says:

    Geez, I only tip 25% if the service is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

  9. George4478 says:

    Mandatory tip is not a tip, it’s a service charge.

    • veritybrown says:

      This.

    • msbask says:

      And it should be based on the work involved and have NOTHING to do with the cost of the food.

      It doesn’t take any more work to pour and deliver a $15 glass of wine than it does to pour and deliver a $25 glass of wine. So why should I tip more?!??!

    • outlulz says:

      And if it’s a mandatory tip they’ll probably expect an additional tip on top of that for their good service.

  10. tbax929 says:

    An article on tipping and me without my popcorn…

    I tip 20% for decent to good service. I tip 15% for mediocre service. I tip 10% for horrible service. I was a bartender during my college years and can sympathize, but I think 25% is excessive.

    • HoJu says:

      If service is horrible, why would you tip at all? A tip is like a “thank you” for good service. A big tip is like a “Thanks a lot” for great service.

      • StarKillerX says:

        I have to agree with HoJu, although with that said I’ve tipped my waiter when they provide good service even if the kitchen didn’t/wouldn’t because sometimes they just can’t help it, but if they themselves provide poor service they aint getting nothing from me.

        • Benyth says:

          In the very few times that I’ve received truly horrible service, I left a nickel or a dime. That way they know that I just didn’t forget to leave a tip. This has only happened two times that I can remember.

          On the other end, I have been known to leave upwards of 50% tip for truly outstanding, above and beyond service that made the night special. One time I did that, the server also got a job offer from my date who worked at a high end resort. In all, he probably earned thousands more annually there than at that little bistro where we found him.

        • Mephron says:

          Yes, this.

          I was at a Shari’s this weekend where the waitress took my order (bowl of potato soup, hamburger with onion rings instead of fries). She brought me my burger… with fries. When I pointed it out, she pulled out her pad, looked at it, said “I’ll take care of that right now.” It took 5 minutes, but I got a plate of freshly-made onion rings (which got comped), got to keep the fries, and got the bowl of soup and an apology. I also heard her talking to the cook about reading the damn screen.

          She got 20% for actually listening and doing things.

      • frank64 says:

        I think they did provide SOME service

      • calibri says:

        Agreed. Tipping when service is terrible encourages the behaviour. Highest tip I’ve ever given was 50% and that was because everyone did such a fantastic job. The usual is 15%.

      • psm321 says:

        I have tipped higher when it looked like service was bad because the waiter/waitress was just having a horrible day. Thought maybe it would add some cheer.

        Or sometimes it’s not their fault (say if the food is coming out too slow and they’re understaffed on waiters so they don’t have time to keep bringing you status updates). In that case I feel sorry for the likelihood that they’re going to get stiffed by others annoyed at the situation that wasn’t really their fault.

      • tbax929 says:

        I tip even when the service is bad because I am a creature of habit. I go to the same places over and over, and I worry what would happen to my food if I stiffed a server and then dined in the same establishment again.

        • HoJu says:

          Ya this of course. I’ve been going to the same tiny breakfast place downtown at least weekly for 15 years. The waitresses all know what I want cuz I get the same thing every single time. I don’t even order. They don’t even say “the usual?” anymore.

          This, plus the fact that my breakfast comes to like $9 makes me tip her almost 40% every time. I just can’t justify leaving 15%.

    • smartypants503 says:

      Worked in the industry too. 20% = outstanding service, 15% for great/good service, 10% for mediocre and 0% for shit service. That’s right…I’m a stiff if the service is bad. How will they ever learn if they can make $300 a night for average service?

      • rmorin says:

        I would hope that for a 0% tip the server like spit on your or something. Sometimes things that effect service (food quality, timeliness) are not the servers fault.

      • Difdi says:

        Better to leave a 2 cent tip, and a note that puts in your 2 cents on the matter. That way they know they failed, rather than just assuming you’re a jerk.

        • rmorin says:

          Glad you are so immature that you can leave a note, but not voice your opinion when you are actually being served … jerk.

    • Difdi says:

      My own personal system, I tip 5% for each of the following areas: Time from being seated to when orders are taken. Time from orders are taken to when food is delivered. Was the wait staff friendly or chilly or outright unpleasant? How often did the wait staff circulate back to make sure glasses were refilled?

      Cut tips in half for bare minimum but not non-existent service in those areas. I do make allowances for being completely slammed with customers. If all four are complete failures, tip $0.02 with a note explaining why.

      I have no problems tipping 20% for superb service, but I also recognize that it IS an optional GIFT for superb service. Mandatory gratuity is an oxymoron. If the bill includes such a service fee, I leave the aforementioned $0.02 and note, explaining that I don’t tip twice for the same service.

      • rmorin says:

        Well your system is terrible and you’re a jerk. If there is an issue so outrageous that 10% is too much contact the manager. You are making an awful lot of assumptions about the service you truly will not know unless you ask the manager and “my two cents” is passive aggressive and childish.

        • matlock expressway says:

          I think it’s a dick move mostly because only one of the things mentioned is entirely within the waitstaff’s control (i.e., friendliness). If a restaurant is understaffed, it’s hardly the server’s fault that he/she can’t haul ass fast enough to satisfy every little teapot dictator. And not tipping because the food wasn’t made fast enough? Yeah, uh, that’s clearly the server’s fault…

          • rmorin says:

            Difdi is incredibly ignorant to restaurant operations and probably genuinely enjoys “giving my (literal) two cents”. If you are not willing to speak up that things are going wrong, putting a passive aggressive “my two cents” is never going to correct anything. Seriously, be an adult and let either the server, or worse case scenario manager that there is an issue.

        • smileboot says:

          The note is less of a dick move. You tell the manager there is always a possibility of someone getting fired.

          What would you rather get? a 2cent tip and and a note why. or losing your job.

          The note at leasts gives them a chance to improve, before a dick comes along.

          • rmorin says:

            No, it’s still a very passive aggressive and childish move. If you do not want to talk to the manager, why not speak your concerns to the server? Leaving the note afterwards doesn’t help your visit at all. Be an adult and tell someone (server, manager, whoever you are comfortable with) that things are not up to your satisfaction.

  11. mauispiderweb says:

    I always tip 20%, though I have to say that I’ve always had good servers. I will up that tip if the service is above and beyond.

  12. ballistic90 says:

    10% tip for bad service (less for terrible, but I’ll always leave something), 15% for average service, 20% for good to outstanding service. That’s all anyone will get out of me and I see nothing wrong with it. You want to get paid a living wage and THEN have tips added in? Move to Canada. Or get the legislation changed for a better minimum wage for waitstaff, whichever is easier.

  13. Tim says:

    The obvious question: how do you make a certain tip level “standard?” I guess maybe an ad campaign or something, like any other way you make something voluntary seem standard.

    But still. Horrible work on the Mercury News’s part here.”Media sources?” Not even “employees at three major San Francisco restaurants, who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak about the campaign?”

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      By making the public think people will spit in their food or not do their job at all if it doesn’t meet whatever level is “acceptable”.

  14. Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

    If I saw a forced gratuity of 20% or above for anything less than a group of 8+, I’d just leave. The most I’ve seen so far is 18% for group of 5+, which was still irritating, but doable.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      Problem is they probably wouldn’t inform you of it before hand.

      • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

        To the credit of the places that I’ve been to that do this, it has always had a notice on the bottom of the menu. If there was no notice and it automatically added 20%+, I don’t know what I would do.

        • eldergias says:

          That is a really good point. The first thing that comes to mind is to tell the manager you will not pay that mandatory tip, tell the waiter you are furious with this policy since it was not disclosed before hand and you would have otherwise tipped them so they should complain to managment, and to show that you are not just a cheapskate inform them that you are donating the equivalent tip to charity. If they change their practices in the future you will be back, otherwise this is the last time they will get your business.

    • digisplicer says:

      I’ve never understood the mentality of, “We’re going to punish you for bringing us business by taking away your choice in how much to tip.” Whenever I see this on menues, I make a note of never coming back.

  15. Danielle74 says:

    If the industry wants tipping a certain percent standardized and servers pay taxes on the tips anyway, why not just include it in the cost of the meal and pay the staff a fair wage.

    Is anyone else getting tired of tip related discussions?

    • RenegadePlatypus says:

      Jinx!! (*yes it’s juvenile, I couldn’t help it…. see below)

    • Hi_Hello says:

      the country isn’t use to it.

      the reason for tip worker is so businesses can hire people without losing that much money.

      in this state, tip worker get paid about 3 bucks an hr. if they don’t make enough a month, the employee is suppose to pay them to match the min. wage..off let say 7 bucks… but most likely they would get fired.

      Cheaper workers, for less pay for businesses.

      For the worker side, if they were get to min wage…7 bucks, they would quit. let say 15 bucks, they might quit. Some of the tip worker make more on a fri/sat night than they do working mon-fri on a 9-5 job.

      you need to find a price, that customer would want to pay, business can afford to pay, and tip worker want to get paid. that is going to be tricky.

      • Jawaka says:

        I’m sure that all industries would like to hire people without losing money. Why are restaurant workers or people why deal directly with the customers special?

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      It’s so that they can falsely advertise lower prices than what you’re really expected to pay.

  16. RenegadePlatypus says:

    I’m afraid I’m missing something here…. but if they were to tack on a mandatory 25% tip (eliminating the entire concept of “gratuity”), why wouldn’t they just instead raise their food prices 25% and start paying the servers a straight hourly wage as any other non-skilled service job like a cashier or dishwasher?

    • Difdi says:

      By now you ought to know the rule about things that make sense!

    • eldergias says:

      My guess on this is so that they can trick people. “Oh, my burger is $10.” *Yes, but you missed the small print on the bottom of the menu saying there is a 25% mandatory gratuity*

      My policy is: If I ever find myself at a restaurant with a mandatory gratuity, I will not pay one penny in gratuity over the mandatory amount. Since the mandatory amount is typically lower than what I would have tipped for that level of service, the wait staff is getting screwed out of my additional tips by the policies of the restaurant. If they don’t like it, they can take it up with their manager.

  17. Talisker says:

    I remember when 10% was standard and gratefully accepted.

  18. aloria says:

    For me, 20% is my base and 25-30% is for exceptional service. I don’t mind tipping 20% for even just basic service (get me a drink, get me my meal, get me my check, don’t be a jerk) but you really have to go out of your way to get anything more than that.

    • Rachacha says:

      Problem is, in many “family” restaurants, it is difficult to even get that level of service.

      Server comes to the table and sees 4 empty glasses and has to be told to get refills, or has to be reminded several times that we are ready for our check.

      Occasionally I will go to a restaurant that provides good service, providing refills when you are 3/4 done with your drink, checking to make sure the meal is to everyone’s satisfaction and checking back to see if you need anything. When I receive that level of service I tip well. If I have to ask for everything, you get 15%. If you have to be reminded to get the refill or check I might deduct from the tip.

  19. El_Fez says:

    25%? Two words: Fuck and No. Yes, the economy is in the toilet, but we’re all suffering. 20% is the max you’ll get, and that’s if you bust your balls at my table. Otherwise my not-mandatory 15% will suit you just fine.

  20. frank64 says:

    Wasn’t it 15% with 20% being for exceptional?

    I think one difference is the definition of exceptional. I think wait staff rates exceptional as doing ones job effectively. This means all really expect 20% when 15 is warranted. Kind of like how sports players inflation works. An average player makes so much, I am above average, thus I should make more. This raises the average for the next guy, and everybody.

    Pay is kept up with inflation by the normal increase in meal prices inflation brings.

  21. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Tipping isn’t necessary, it should be done for service that is WORTH IT.

    Get the restaurants to pay a living wage (read MINIMUM+) not the $2.50 they think they can get by on.

    • HSVhockey says:

      This. Right. Here.

    • whylime says:

      Totally agree. Plus, there is no minimum wage exemption for tip in California, so waitstaff get paid at least minimum wage, which is $8.00/hr. If they want more, they should be fighting for a higher minimum wage, or give exceptional service and earn that 20% tip.

  22. HSVhockey says:

    I’ve actually been cutting back on my tipping a bit. Normally when I tip at a restaurant I just look at the bill, move the decimal point to the left one, and I leave a number that is higher than 2x that. Which because of it being arbitrary I tend to leave much higher than 20%. Lately I’ve been making sure I calculate out 20% exactly though.

    Bars are another story. Depends if the bartender is a friend or not I leave anywhere for 33%-100% tips. I’ve cut those down a bit and the friends are getting ~50% tips and the non friends are getting about a buck a drink, which normally falls in the 20% range.

    • psm321 says:

      That first part you described is exactly what I do :) 20% is easy and then round up if the total looks low (I’m a sucker for large percentages on small bills… $5 bill I might tip 100% if I’m in a good mood… $100 bill not so much) or is close to a rounder number

  23. Coelacanth says:

    Growing up, 15% was the standard amount. Now it seems like most places “expect” 18%-20% to be the default.

    It’s almost like those annoying de-Beers commercials where “2-month’s salary” suddenly becomes 3-, 4-, or even more…

  24. jp7570-1 says:

    Some restaurant receipts actually include a list of suggested tips (by percentage) at the ottom of the printed receipt – something in the range of 15%, 18%, and 20%.

    Unless the service is extraordinarily excellent, 25% seems high. It is also harder to justify a 25% tip when almost all restaurants (fast-food to 5-star) have had to raise their prices because of the higher cost of food and supplies.

    When the economy recovers, then come back and ask for 25%.

  25. Edacious says:

    That would make me seriously reconsider going out for dinner. Not to say certain staff deserve it, but most will probably give you crappy service knowing they are getting the money anyways.

  26. aja175 says:

    Hmm. Manditory 25% tip? There are 14 other restaurants within a mile radius that serve the same food. Good luck with that one.

  27. KainCooper says:

    For someone to get over 20% tip from me they need to have given me something complimentary. I’ve been at places where they have given me appetizers for free or drinks. Usually when they do that I give them about the price of what it would have been included in the tip.

  28. rpm773 says:

    I bet there are a lot of restaurants outside of the city limits who can sear a steak, slap a piece of fish on some sushi rice, or stir some noodles in a butter sauce. All willing to do it without the 25% service charge, which is what this essentially is.

    If this were to be realized, it would be interesting to see if the increase in revenue outweighs the decrease in diners.

    • Mr. Spy says:

      I’m a twice the tax guy. it’s simple and it gets the job done. 8.25%*2 16.50%. I’ve never heard a grumble. If service is exceptional or I’m in a good mood, 20%. 25% for people who are way too good to be serving food and who provide me with service beyond what I came for.

  29. howie_in_az says:

    25% for bringing the food I picked out to my table (if I’m lucky; sometimes another ‘runner’ or waiter does this for you), filling up my glass with a beverage, and trying to sell me a dessert I don’t need/want?

    You’re not cooking the food, and if I have any problems with it you immediately bring a manager over. Why should I be tipping you at all — shouldn’t I be tipping the chef? He’s the one that did most of the work, you just carry stuff around and take forever to pick up my drink order from the bar. Half the time you don’t even do that — you rely on a runner or some other waiter to deliver the food.

    What are you doing that’s so invaluable to my dining experience?

    • psm321 says:

      You do realize that your waiter IS the “other waiter” for other people, right? So you’re penalizing them for being more efficient and trading small tasks so that you get things quicker?

      • Thespian says:

        It’s pointless to try to explain the etiquette of tipping to non-tippers. They just don’t have the processing power.

        • jallopy says:

          Yes, habitual tippers and tipping because it’s the right thing to do – it is the same set of mentality which started the – “Oh yes, bottled water, no more free water, bottle water tastes way better”.

  30. chizu says:

    When I’m oversea, dining out means tagging on a 10% automatic “service fee” — you could choose to tip if the service pleases you. The problem is that, unless you go into a fancy restaurant, service is so-so and sometimes wait staff could careless about you because they are getting the 10% service fee no matter what. The upside is you could get any staff to help you out because the fee is split equally.

    Last time when I went out for my friend’s birthday dinner, due to the size of our party, an automatic 18% gratuity was tagged on. I’m usually not really bothered by that, but except the staff was missing things here and there… I asked for a glass of water, never got that. My other friend asked for a drink from the bar, never got that. And it was next to impossible to get his attention for anything. (I know he might have been really busy, but at the same time, I’d like my glass of water when I asked for it a couple of times instead of having to share a glass of water with my friend.) My concern with mandatory “gratuity” is that the servers know they’ll get that no matter what, and we could potentially run into the problem that they might not work as hard to earn it.

    I guess another thing is — don’t they make a minimum $8 in CA? If they are demanding a 25% tip — it better be the best service I have ever had. I’m not even asking a lot, just make sure my glass is never empty, and rarely could waitstaff fulfill that.

    • psm321 says:

      At my last job, my boss once fought an automatic gratuity when we had horrible service at lunch (he was with the group). It came down to “remove this or we’re not coming here again”. I’m not sure how they ended up resolving it (the manager was proposing a credit off the bill but not the tip) though, because most of us left and my boss stayed behind to argue it.

  31. touayang says:

    I’ll think twice about eating out if this happened in my town.
    I tip at least 10% even if the service is bad. I’ll tip up to 30% if the service is good.
    These people have to work for their tips.

  32. alliebeth says:

    Percentages are incredibly stupid, IMO. Food prices usually have very little to do with service, unless you are really at the bottom of the barrel or the creme de la creme of restaurants, neither of which we really go to. When we go out, I usually tip $1 for each plate on the table (salad, entree and drink = $3) and if the service was good, add an extra $1 or so. More if we stayed a long time, or if the server was exceptionally great.

  33. nikalseyn says:

    the ONLY time I tip is if the service was excellent and out of the ordinary. Why in the world would you tip as a normal course of action just because someone delivers your food?? They already are being paid per hour and if they feel they are not making enough, then find another, higher paying job. Boy!! some people are really suckers.

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      There’s always someone like you in threads like these. You sound so proud of yourself but, in reality, you’re a plain old jerk. In the United States a 15% tip for basic service is customary. It’s not really optional and it should be considered part of the cost of eating out. If you don’t want to pay it do everyone a favor and stay home.

      Of course, you’re free to defy convention as long as you’re willing to accept the consequence that the vast majority of people will think you’re an ass. Also, assuming you’re not dining alone all the time, show some consideration for your dining companions. Most of them are probably embarrassed by your behavior and some are probably pitching in extra to cover the tip you’re not paying.

      Lastly, for your own sake, I hope you’re not a repeat customer anywhere you bring that attitude.

      • jallopy says:

        Get off your high horse. Just because you tip because it is a ‘custom’ does not make you better or worse than anyone. Giving greed a fancy name like customary is just ridiculous. There are way more service areas which perhaps deserve a tip than a snobbish waiter who expects to get tipped because he did what he is paid to do.

        If they *weren’t* paid normally, then I would absolutely support this cause.

  34. amuro98 says:

    It’s already about 25%. The “standard” tip in SF is supposed to be 18%, and don’t forget the 5% (post tax!) that restaurants add to your bill to help provide healthcare for their employees.

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      The healthcare surcharge isn’t really “extra”. The city mandates that all businesses with 20+ employees provide health insurance. If they don’t offer a policy then the city charges, i.e.: taxes, the business so their employees can use the local health care access program.

      To me, it’s not any different than when you pay for a plane ticket, rental car, or phone bill. You always see all the taxes and fees broken out on those and people seem to have gotten used to it.

  35. axiomatic says:

    The only way I would give a waiter / waitress a 25% tip is if they waited on no other table than mine and they stood next to me and wiped my mouth with every bite I took AND THEN gave me a foot rub all the while calling me “Mr. Big.”

    I agree with another poster too, a mandatory tip is not a tip, its a service fee.

  36. vastrightwing says:

    Excuse me? Is the writer for the San Jose Mercury Mike Barnicle by any chance?

    • whylime says:

      Actually the article was written for the Contra Costa Times. The San Jose Mercury News decided to print it as well. The author is Ed Arnow.

  37. Max Headroom says:

    This is awesome, prevents me from ever eating out again because I’ll be DAMNED your going to force me to hand over cash when it’s not warranted. Time for servers to look for alternate non-skilled employment in CA.

  38. esc27 says:

    I usually tip the highest who dollar amount at or above 15%. If paying only for myself that is usually about $2 for $8-13 worth of food. Excellent service and a leave $3. Poor service and I leave $1 or on very, very rare occasion $0.

  39. framitz says:

    I tip based on quality of service.

    Dictating how much I must tip will result in loss of my business every time.

  40. josephbloseph says:

    As with most people not in San Francisco, I have no idea what waitstaff are actually paid in SF, though I do have the idea that SF isn’t a cheap place to live. I also don’t know whether they’re paid below minimum with the tips expected to make up for it, or if they’re paid a decent living wage to begin with. I’m not going to comment on what I think they deserve, that’s going to differ for a lot of people based on a lot of factors (location, upbringing, sobriety, whether or not you are a douche, etc). At least I haven’t seen those unhelpful “If they want more money they should find a job that doesn’t depend on tips” comments yet.

    • BytheSea says:

      All wait staff are paid minimum wage, which is something like 9.xx/hr. Unless they’re being paid under the table, which a large, large percentage of them are.

  41. The Twilight Clone says:

    When I was a kid (in the 80s), the standard was 10%. Maybe a bit more if the service was exceptional. So what’s with the tip inflation?

    The way I figure it, restaurant prices have inflated since then, so 10% is more now than it was then. These days 15% is the minimum. 10% earns you shame and guilt.

  42. DH405 says:

    Last time I was in SF, I had a waiter chase me down on the sidewalk to ask why I hadn’t tipped after I had left a $5 bill on the table and seen him pocket it. I think he was trying to upgrade his tips in a more DIY fashion. Dick.

  43. Clever_Innuendo says:

    Here in Texas, standard pay for servers is 2.15 an hour. Sometimes a bit less, sometimes a bit more. If I can’t afford to tip, I don’t go to a sit down restaurant. I’ve done that job, and it’s really difficult, especially when you get stiffed for things that aren’t your fault (kitchen is backed up and the food takes a long time to get there, etc). You can apologize for the delay, but since they see you, and not the cook, they still blame you anyway.

    Also, the amount of tips you get per night really depends on the restaurant and area of town. Back in my hometown, I worked at a Mexican restaurant, and my brother worked at the same restaurant, but a different location. My location was right across from the university, and his was over in the upper middle class part of town where all the families/country club members lived. Students are the worst tippers ever. He usually got twice as much money as me working the same shifts, but he’s not that great of a worker. (He frequently up and quits jobs with no notice…he’s had like 6 jobs in the last two years.)

    I’ve given anything from 15% to 100%. Usually it’s 20%. The time I gave a girl 100% was when the service was excellent, and she chatted with me and my friend a bit. She said she just had a baby the week before, and she was already back to work. I felt she deserved/needed the extra cash. There are even times when the service is bad, but I tip well anyway. Like the last time I went to a sit down, I guessed the guy was new. I asked him, and he said he’d only been there for three days. I gave him some serving advice and 20%.

    I also calculate my tip on the after tax amount too, so it’s probably a bit higher than that.

    For drinks, they get a dollar a drink usually, but I don’t get expensive mixers most of the time. Just cheap $2 beers or whatever. I don’t go to bars often though.

  44. Kung Foo says:

    And I suppose that 25% standard will come with guaranteed excellent service?

  45. shthar says:

    What a bunch of tight asses you people are.

    Go back to mcdonalds if leaving a tip gives you a panic attack.

  46. BytheSea says:

    I live in SF. EVERY restaurant, coffee shop, sammich shop, and anything else expects you to tip, but I haven’t heard of a 25% standard. Anywhere “expensive” = “tourist trap” and they’re not going to convince the Minnesotans in mom jeans to put down 25% when they can barely get 15% out of them. SF is a stupidly liberal city and there is a lot of pressure to tip well and tip often, but they’re not raising the standards.

    Do you tip well in high class SF restaurants? Yeah. Just like in any other expensive city, like NYC, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai. When I get a coffee, I drop in my change. If I were to go to the equivalent of that city’s Rainbow Room, I would tip better. But I don’t. Because my job pays shit. :D

  47. Difdi says:

    A tip is a gift to show gratitude for good service. It’s taxed differently than a service fee or straight restaurant bill. A “mandatory gratuity” is a service fee; Collecting a service fee but reporting it as a gratuity is tax evasion.

    If I am charged a “mandatory gratuity” service fee, and receive poor service, I’ll be filing a criminal complaint for theft of service. If the amount of the “mandatory gratuity” service fee matches or exceeds the filing cost of small claims court, I’ll strongly consider doing that as well.

  48. samjung23 says:

    Waiting tables and bartending is for young people. Once you get past 30 or so, you lose your attractiveness and it’s pointless to work in the service industry anymore. So enjoy those obscene tips while you can, it’s off to Wal-Mart once you hit a certain age! 25% is ridiculous, but so are the people who don’t tip. That’s really just mean.

  49. Scamazon says:

    Tips are for service and by no means mandatory. I rarely get 10% tip service although I usually tip more with the exception of those rare occasions the server gets less. Work your ass off for me and please me as a customer and you’ll get more. (Yes, I have tipped over 25% on occasion) Roy’s in SF and Maui are among the exceptional…

  50. 12341223 says:

    If you want me to tip 25%, have unbelievably great service. Like when I order a hamburger and fries, you just happen to have some extra filet mignon and lobster tails that appear instead.

  51. creativecstasy says:

    I just wanted to say the SF Mercury is not an East Bay paper. It’s a South Bay Paper. And no one would go to San Jose for dinner instead of San Francisco. Berkeley, maybe, but even that’s unlikely if you are based in SF.

  52. Zydia says:

    I get where they’re coming from, however I’d end up adjusting how often I go out and what I order accordingly. It’d be a wash.

  53. deniseb says:

    They’ve already succeeded in making 20% standard and I’ve heard waitpersons calling customers cheap when they don’t tip on the tax of 8.5%.

    I think 20% on the bill, not the tax, is plenty high. I’m not going higher than that as a regular thing.

  54. samjung23 says:

    I think it’s time that the waitstaff realize that they are working a minimum wage job. Get real. 10% is good enough, if you ask me, for what the staff do. I tip 20% 99% of the time, unless I get a truly horrible person who makes my meal a nightmare. The problem is that the industry has been taken over by greedy kids that can’t ever get enough. I have gone to restaurants in a group, and usually the policy is 18% mandatory that is added on. Beware, when that happens, your service is going to be terrible. I can’t even begin to imagine what service will be like when 25% is mandatory. Don’t do this San Francisco, you are going to kill your restaurant industry. I will refuse to dine down there.

  55. RocheCoach says:

    What does that even mean, “standard”? Are they going to start getting mad if you leave a 20% tip or something? Make you feel bad about it?

    Yeah, I’m going to stick to 15%, thanks.

  56. bvita says:

    My baseline tip is 15% for adequate service and I increase as my opinion of the service improves. I DECREASE if the tip is SUGGESTED. If the check has it printed on it, that’s exactly what they get.

    If SF tries to impose a mandatory 25% tip, especially given the substandard service I’ve received when visiting, I’ll brown bag it. Just another reason to avoid SF.

    Another “entitlement” creeps into our lives.

  57. Carlos Spicy Weiner says:

    As liberal whaco as we are here in The City, I can’t see this getting traction. While I tip 20% as a starting point for “good service” (and more for great service), I tip less for bad service. Since when should bad service be rewarded?

  58. Alessar says:

    Someone pointed out in a thread elsewhere that CA doesn’t use typical waitstaff wages either, they use federal minimum.

  59. david.c says:

    When I do go to sit down / service restaurants I tip based upon service.

    How long do the water glasses sit empty? Did they check back in a timely fashion to make sure the food was right? Did they forget something we asked for (like a side of mayo)? Were they attentive? and mostly … did they appear to really care about servicing us? Or were they too good to be doing that job and really wished they could be doing something else?

    If I am planning a “group thing” I make sure the restaurant doesn’t try that: Groups of X require mandatory tipping BS. I have learned that in a group, when wait staff is guaranteed a tip, they tend to give lousy service … after all .. if they are guaranteed a tip, why bother with excellent service?

    And *that* is the reason why mandatory tipping, across the board, won’t work as a general rule.

  60. Professor59 says:

    Arguing about something that isn’t really happening is silly. It’s just an attention grab.

  61. CarlS says:

    Silly me, I thought tips were a voluntary expression of gratitude of service above and beyond. If they make it mandatory, then the IRS can return us to the days where we could claim exemptions, and the employers can count it as an increase in wages, and the employees can pay taxes on what they actually get. Instead of, you know, kowtowing to the IRS’ rule that “you will pay taxes based on a formula rather than any lesser amount you may have actually gotten”.

    Wait staff does not a charity make; I already contribute to charities of my choice.

    When I go to a restaurant, I pay for the meal, and the proprietor of that restaurant takes upon him or herself the burden of paying staff to deliver his (or her) product to me the customer. If not, then he or she has only those customers he or she can handle alone. Or no customers. If that employee does something for me that I judge to be worthy, I might express my gratitude. To that employee; not to his or her co-workers and the owner.

    Make it mandatory and I won’t.

  62. XStylus says:

    If tips get mandated at 25%, I think I’ll quit my job and go be a waiter.

  63. arcticJKL says:

    Of course the article was about the fact that there is no law in the works so there is really no story but since we have again degenerated into another tipping rule discussion with no attempt on establishing guidelines or rules ill just post my declaration again…

    Rule 043011-1 Tipping: All servers are to be tipped 10-15% for average to good service. Tipping is irrelevant to how much they are paid by their employers. All delivery personnel are tipped $2-5. Over the counter servers (McDonald’s, Starbucks) get no tip unless providing a service above what is paid for.
    Amended: No tipping a buffets.

  64. thomwithanh says:

    I don’t tip 25% unless the server went way above and beyond, or I personally know him or her.

  65. Happy Dad says:

    Why should one pay 25% tip to limp-whisted waiter that willing likely spit in a customer’s food.
    They’re waiters because they CHOOSE to be waiters. Perhaps with this 25% tip “rule” those places will go out of business and they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

  66. madtube says:

    Alright, I will get this out of the way, I abhor the practice of tipping. So much so that I avoid establishments (or at least try to) that practice it. I try to avoid these places not because I do not want to pay for the gratuity, but because I feel that the person would have probably gotten more of a tip if they had not waited on me. BUT, I still will leave a 15% tip for decent service. To me, tipping is a capitalist loophole that allows employers to pay substantially less to their workers as a means to inflate their profit margin. I am not a complete frakking tool, though. Unless you treat me badly or royally screw up my order, you will get a tip from me. And if you genuinely go above and beyond, I will reward that.

  67. lumpia91791 says:

    They want more money at the end of the day, go to school and get a better job.

  68. Thespian says:

    If people would (as they’re supposed to) tip 20%, waiters wouldn’t need to push you to tip 25% to make up for the people who tip 10%.

    …somewhat less than half joking. :)

  69. fauxrage says:

    I’m getting to the point where I go to buffets just so I can avoid the whole tipping issue.

  70. jjq says:

    How did tipping evolve into this? Does the expectation of a tip actually influence how a server will serve? Isnt good service to be expected? Why are restaurant owners allowed to not pay min. wage in the first place? Shouldnt employees be paid by their employer?
    If a guest is impressed by the service, they can give the server a bonus. If they are impressed by clean dishes, why not tip the dishwasher?
    I’ve gotten in the habit of tipping anywhere from 18 to 20%, if the service is bad, I just know to go elsewhere in the future.

  71. skakh says:

    Restaurants should be required to pay servers at least the minimum wage, more for quality workers. Imagine the outrage by the Republicans if restaurants were actually required to pay employees decent wages? After all, we can’t punish the job creators, can we?

    I always tip twenty percent, provided the service is adequate. Perhaps a bit more to round up the paid amount. Of course, I almost never visit the lousy chain, so-called, restaurants, so the service I receive is almost always superb, as is the food.

    • Thespian says:

      (quote) “Restaurants should be required to pay servers at least the minimum wage, more for quality workers. Imagine the outrage by the Republicans if restaurants were actually required to pay employees decent wages? After all, we can’t punish the job creators, can we?”

      Bzzzt…wrong. A bill that would have provided just such a requirement (HR 2570 in the 111th Congress) was blocked from leaving committee by…the Democrats (even though it was originally put forward by a Democrat).

  72. atomoverride says:

    bad service = no tip
    good service = double the amount of tax
    awesome service = double the amount of tax + 2$
    stellar service = double the amount of tax + 10$

    You have to work for it. but come on its not that hard.

  73. dwfmba says:

    Here’s an idea, build it into the pricing per item. If it doesn’t catch on (because your sales drop) you just had effective research. (This is a terrible idea altogether, a tip by definition is at the discretion of the consumer. If you want your staff to make more, pay them more. Oh, wait that means they’d have to report that on their income right?)

  74. sock says:

    I just spent a week in Amsterdam, where the common tip is to round up to the nearest Euro. None of this 20-25% BS.

    Of course, I don’t spend much time in restaurants any more, which is possibly why I could afford a week in Amsterdam (where people are actually paid a living wage).

  75. stopthelunacy says:

    i tip based on quality and service.That could be anywhere from 0 to 20% or more. It just depends. But even giving a tip is my choice and some eating joint isn’t going to tell me how much to tip. Just remember, tips are always optional. If the eatery wants the staff to make more money, they need to pay them more than $2 an hour.

  76. dg says:

    And don’t drive with your headlights off at night!

  77. soj4life says:

    I doubt any restaurants would be behind this, it will cause diners to eat elsewhere.