“Check Please!”


Posted Mon, Nov 28, 2011

PAY UP: Leave a 13-20 percent tip for wait staff. One should tip minimally, even if the service is fantastic.

DENVER — By day, she is a Metro State nursing student. By night, Lilia Chavez, works for tips as a server and a To-Go Specialist at Chili’s Grill and Bar.

Chavez, a sophomore, has worked at Chili’s for three years, and like many other Metro students, her job is a necessary component for her education.

However, with the state of the economy and with the holidays just around the corner, tipped employees like Chavez are experiencing the country’s money woes firsthand.

“Bad tips are a lot of work for nothing,” Chavez said. “It affects me because I get less than minimum wage and tips are how I make my money.”

The 2011 minimum wage for tipped employees in the state of Colorado is $4.34 per hour. In 2012, it is proposed to rise to $4.62. The problem, though, is that once tips are claimed, that hourly wage is nearly entirely taken for taxes.

In an article featured on Fox Business’s website, Constance Hoffman, etiquette coach and trainer, recommended that one leave a 13-20 percent tip for wait staff, and went on to say that one should tip minimally, even if the service is fantastic.

Hoffman also said that tips are shared by restaurant workers. While in some cases this is true, it is not in all. For example, at Chili’s, servers tip out the bartender mandatorily, but any other tip outs are done by choice. In this respect, a server’s tips are their entire wages.

After a study of 54 tables at one Chili’s location, an average percentage of tips to bills could be calculated. Over the span of four shifts, weekend, weekday, lunch, and dinner, the average tip percentage for one server was 17.52 percent.

This is consistent with the results of a poll taken on Facebook. Out of 147 responses, 44 percent of people surveyed said they tip 15-20 percent, based on service received.

Bringing up second place in the survey was the flat 20 percent option, with 36 percent of the votes. Only 1.4 percent of those who took the survey said they would leave 10 percent of their bill or less.

Another area of the restaurant that is up for tipping debate is the Takeout or To-Go center. In her review, Hoffman said that takeout tips were unnecessary. Chavez, who relies on To-Go for a significant amount of her income, disagrees.

“To-go tipping is obviously less than serving,” Chavez said. “I’ve heard from people that they believe that in to-go, all you do is pack up the food. I really wish this would change. If everyone tipped at least a dollar in to-go it would go a long way.”

And though Chavez now advocates for takeout tips, she knows that a lot of people don’t understand the amount of work that goes into the job. She admits that until she started doing it, she didn’t realize its scope, either.

“I actually used to not tip,” Chavez said. “Then, you realize how much work it is, and you better believe [now] I tip where ever I go.”

And wages aside, tips are a personal matter to servers. Since tips are, or at least can be, a direct reflection of service, many servers take poor tips personally. For Chavez, it’s the good ones she tries to take to heart.

“The good [tips],” Chavez said with a smile, “let me know I’ve done something right.”

11 Responses to ““Check Please!””

  1. Kevin Rostad Says:

    It is interesting to see the point-of-view of a server. I would have also liked to have seen a couple quotes from some co-workers, customers or even servers at different restaurants. Overall, good story.


  2. James Crussell Says:

    Very well written story. Great story and I readlly liked that you included the tip chart


  3. Cherise Scrivner Says:

    Really awesome story girl! The word needs to be put out there as much as possible. Great things to leave the reader with knowledge about the topic to use in the future.


  4. LeAndra Says:

    Good story, very informative maybe if people read this story we would be making better tips!!! everything you said is true p:s our tips out weigh our paychecks people need to consider that! GReat JOB:)


  5. Matt Says:

    very well written, very informative.


  6. Shawn Says:

    I use to be a waiter at a few restaurants and I understand the struggles it takes to be paid in tips. You work so hard to impress your customer and in most cases they already know what they will be tipping based upon their bills total. One of the most struggling jobs. Great story, and chart.


  7. Sachelle Says:

    I really enjoy the resources you used. Having polls and an average of 54 tables is very informative. The tipping graph also is helpful and the image you used is great visually. I saw a few comma splices, but overall it read pretty well. Nice work. Get it? Work.


  8. Caitlin Says:

    Good story! I agree that it would’ve been good to get quotes from customers, but I realize that could’ve been kindof awkward.


  9. Melodi Says:

    Great work!!


  10. Matt D Says:

    Great interviews and great information. The first bracket, tho, is unneeded and the one the second – that is, you’re last line – could’ve been incorporated much more fluidly, without the bracket. (Ex: quotations without quote-marks, integrated into the *actual* quotation)


  11. Alex Says:

    Great quotes, maybe add couple more servers for some additional flavor? The point about taxes sounded like a good news angle for the story. If it was flushed out a little further is would go a long way to undergird the other points made in the article.


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