My husband came home the other night with some carry-out food for dinner. As we were unpacking it, he said, “Do you tip when you pick up take-out?” I said, “No, not generally.” And he said, “Me neither, but I always feel kind of weird about it.”
It seems this is a perennial debate. Anecdotally, from what I’ve read and experienced over the years, I am guessing that most people do not tip for take-out because they figure nobody is serving them at a table, bringing drinks and refills and the like. And I also know a lot of folks opt for take-out with one factor in the decision being that they do NOT have to tip. You know the old conversation: “Well, but if we go out we’ll end up paying for drinks and tips and all that stuff adds up. Let’s just get take-out.”
The counter argument is that the host or hostess with whom you are dealing has taken the order over the telephone, packed it up and cashes you out. But how do you know that’s the same person who took the order when you arrive? And isn’t it mostly the kitchen staff that prepares and packs up the order? It might depend on the workflow of that particular restaurant.
The most compelling reason I’ve heard for tipping on take-out is to develop a good relationship with a restaurant you frequent. That way, they are more likely to remember you and what you like, and perhaps throw in a little extra sauce or something. If I feel that a host/hostess or cashier has gone the extra mile for me in some way, I will leave a tip. That has happened on a couple of occasions, but more often than not, I don’t tip.
The issue of tipping is a murky one for a lot of people. I get particularly anxious at ritzy hotels on the rare occasion when I’m staying at one. What do you tip the valet or the kid who wants to carry your luggage to the room? Is it rude to say you’d prefer to carry your own luggage to the room?
I’d be very interested to hear what you all think about tipping on take-out, and any other tipping situations you’ve encountered.