tipping etiquette

Tipping Etiquette - Restaurants

the usual tip is fifteen (15) to twenty (20) percent on the pre-tax amount of the bill

self-service restaurants: 10%

extra accommodating waiters: an extra $5.00 for extra special service

lingering at your table on a busy night: an extra ten (10) to fifteen (15) percent

bartenders: fifteen (15) to twenty (20) percent of the total bill


  • - fifteen (15) to twenty (20) percent of the wine bill - but only if they were especially helpful
  • - if the sommelier took your order and poured your first glass, no more than ten (10) to fifteen (15) percent
  • - tip your waiter only for the food portion of the bill.

  • tipping the maitre d’, bartenders, washroom attendants, valet parking attendants, busboys, and musicians. tipping less, tip jars

    Guidelines for Tipping:

  • Tip on the pre-tax amount of the bill, not on the total.
  • Tip discreetly. Tipping is a private matter, so don't play the big spender who likes to flash bills.
  • Money is the tip of choice in most cases, but sometimes a small gift, usually given during the holidays, can be substituted.

  • A gratuity is already included in the bill. Check the bill to see if a gratuity is included (or a service charge).

  • Gratuities may already be included if a table was reserved for more than six people.
  • If you think it is deserved, you can leave an additional tip.

  • Your meal costs much less than the restaurant average. If you eat light, or use a coupon, it is thoughtful to leave a tip commensurate with a full-priced meal.

    A line for the captain's gratuity. Most restaurants with captains combine tips, with seventy-five percent going to the waiter and twenty-five percent to the captain. If there is a separate line for the captain, you can ignore it and increase the tip if you like.

    Host, Hostess and Maitre d’

    Unless you are a frequent patron, it is not necessary to tip the maitre d'.

  • If you are a regular, you may want to give the host $10 to $20 every once to cultivate your relationship and to say "thank you" for special services.
  • A tip may be appropriate if the maitre d' has gone out of his way to find a table for you on a busy night. (Offer him $10 to $15 after he's shown you to the table.) If your dining party is large, double or triple the tip, depending on the number of people.

  • Bartenders

    How much you tip a bartender depends in part on whether you're waiting at the bar for a table in the adjoining restaurant or you're at a bar for its own sake.

  • As you wait for a table, you can either pay for drinks as you order or run a tab, which will be added to your dinner bill. Leave a tip for the bartender before you leave the bar. One dollar per drink is standard.
  • If you're at a bar simply to have a drink, tip between fifteen and twenty percent of the total. If the bartender has given you a free drink or two, add a couple of extra dollars to your tip.

  • Washroom Attendants

  • Tip washroom attendants at least one dollar for handing you a towel.
  • If the attendant brushes off your jacket, leave $2.00 or $3.00.
  • A small dish of coins is usually on display and the tip is placed there instead of in the attendant's hand.
  • If washroom attendants do nothing but stand there biding their time, no tip is necessary.

  • Valet Parking Attendants

    • Tip the parking attendant $2.00.
    • Give the tip when the car is brought to you, not when you arrive.


    Busboys are usually not tipped, with two exceptions:

    1. You spill something and the busboy cleans it up - you may give him or her $1.00 or $2.00 as you leave.
    2. If a busboy in a cafeteria carries your tray to the table, $1.00 or $2.00 is appropriate.


    • In nicer restaurants with piano entertainment, do not tip the piano player unless you see a tip jar - that is unlikely.
    • You may tip musicians in more casual restaurants - $2 to $5 on leaving, even if you've made no request - receptacles for tips are usually in clear view.
    • If you have made requests, add an extra dollar or more for each song.
    • For strolling musicians, the basic tip is $1 per musician, $2 for a party of two; a total of $5 is enough for a group.
    • If you make a special request, add an extra dollar to each musician's tip.
    • You needn't stop eating when musicians perform table side. Just smile and thank them as you tip when the musicians finish.

    Related Tipping Etiquette:

    We have complied thorough international tipping guidelines in this section. If you are traveling on business or pleasure, investigate this valuable tipping resource.