You didn’t sit down. You weren’t served, in the traditional restaurant sense. Your food, however, was delivered to you from a human. True, the food might have been wrapped in a plastic bag. It might have been encased in styrofoam. With luck, it came hot and steaming and seemed almost fresh from an insulated carrier.
That’s right, you called in, and received, carryout food. Food to go from nameless, faceless folks who would never dream to call themselves “servers,” even though they just served up your next meal on your doorstep or your desk.
Asks Ishmael, perplexed about the rules of tipping for carryout food:
Just have to say love your blog. I have a restaurant type question though that no one I know can answer. When ordering take out say from a standard restaurant like Chili’s or whatever. Is it customary to leave a tip? I’ve never been sure…. I thought that since you weren’t actually being served or something there was no need, but I’ve never been sure and I always get different answers. Can you fill me in?
You really don’t have to ask, right?
You know how easy it is not to tip the maids in a hotel? You never see them, yet your room is just magically made up. But how would they know if you didn’t tip them after a day or two of swabbing your sink and toilet? They might figure it figures when you don’t tip, but they truly appreciate the gesture when you do.
So, you wonder, can I tip the guy who delivers my pizza a buck or two? You could. But how about you try tipping 20 percent? He/she just drove like a maniac to get your pie delivered in record time. Thank him as you would any server.
Yeah, you point out, but I just ordered take-out from the bartender, and he barely spoke to me while I waited. I still have to tip? Okay, here’s what I do: order take out, then order a glass of wine, a beer, a soda–something–while waiting for the order at the bar. And I tip on the whole bill because the bartender has now taken time to deal with me, deal with the kitchen, and deal with me again.
Is it customary to leave a tip to your carryout server/delivery person? Of course it is. How much more than a dollar, maybe three? I have no idea. I just know what I do. And I have a healthy respect for tipping karma, especially for tipping those who don’t have the glamourous “inside” restaurant job.