On Tipping...

The etiquette and guidelines associated with tipping in America have been been debated and misconstrued since its creation by King Tut. Archaic preconceptions like “Hospitality workers make enough money” and “Price increases? They’re just gouging us now!” have added to the confusion. Bottom line is that when you go out to eat, the staff you interact with are providing a service. When they are explaining the nuances between wines, the philosophy behind Restaurant X's use of sustainable food sourcing, firing up a philly cheesesteak, or cleaning your table, they are giving you a taste of a totally different culture. And you don't even have to set foot on a plane! Unless you really want to, which I also encourage.

Bottom line is that the hospitality industry is adapting to environmental, social, and economic changes like other sectors, and the traditional wait staff model is no longer the only game in town. The pool system is becoming extremely popular, and thus almost every position receives some kind of tip. Rules can differ from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant, with the universal figure being 15% of the bill, and 18% with large groups. These figures are also subject to inflation and will likely go up sometime in the future. Of course, things can happen and you may find yourself in a situation where you feel the need to exercise your right not to tip. AND YOU CAN RESERVE YOUR RIGHT TO NOT TIP, but keep this in mind… Labor is the MOST CRUCIAL expense in the hospitality industry, and is usually what causes places to go under. If a place manages itself well (employs mostly PART-TIME EMPLOYEES AT MINIMUM WAGE), they typically will stay in business. As a result, most employees rely HEAVILY on tips as a source of income in exchange for the flexibility the hospitality industry provides them. 

Tim Maher