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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Letter to the Editor: The tipping point: a server’s perspective

Hey, Grinnell. Many of you love to dine out at the various wonderful establishments here, but I would like to let you in on a little secret. Your servers don’t like you very much as a collective group. Don’t be offended! I am a self-loathing college student and server with over five years of experience in the food service industry. I am writing to you to help improve the relationship between you as a customer and your servers.

I am writing to you because I’m tired of your tipping habits. Now, I am not here to make an argument for or against tipping culture. I’m just here to explain a few things about the system to you. First of all, you should always leave a tip. No excuses. I don’t care if you don’t believe in the tipping system of paying servers’ wages. This is the system, and I’m here to tell you how to play by the rules. Not tipping your server is not the arena to fight for that cause, it’s in changing wage laws. If you feel that serving isn’t a “real job” and that anyone can take food and drinks to a table, I disagree, and that doesn’t mean that it’s a job that doesn’t deserve a fair living wage.

There is so much that goes on in a restaurant that you don’t see, especially during a lunch or dinner rush, and sometimes we aren’t there to wait on you hand-and-foot (not that you should ever make your server do that). Take a look around if you’re upset about your service. If you see a full restaurant and your server is running around the restaurant in a frenzy, cut them some slack. We’ve all worked busy shifts and it pains us when we can’t give you the service you deserve. Please try to understand that.

If there’s a problem with your food, don’t take it out on your server by stiffing them or reducing the tip. Please tell us so that we can fix your problem promptly. If your steak is over-cooked, tell me. I’ll negotiate with our busy (and probably irate) cooks to make sure that you get your steak cooked to the perfect medium rare that you ordered. As servers, we want you to be happy and we’re there to take care of exactly these problems. 

If you are unsatisfied with your service for any reason at all, the answer is not to stiff your server. The correct response to service that you feel was particularly bad is to ask to speak with a manager. That is the only way that problems get solved. When you leave your server nothing, they learn nothing. All they know is that you’re not a good tipper and they’ll remember and probably serve you accordingly next time. Yes, we do know and remember who you are, bad tippers. Especially you regulars. When one does not leave a tip, it sends a message that the value of your server’s work isn’t worth minimum wage. Think about how classist that is. Furthermore, as a social justice conscious community, Grinnell College students often advocate for fair living wages for all employees. To not tip your servers flies in the face of that message.

You should also always tip your servers because you probably don’t have knowledge of where the dollars you leave go. In some restaurants, tips from the table go directly to the individual server. In others, there’s a percentage of tips that are shared between the entire staff (including host staff and bussers). So, if you leave nothing for your server, you may also be stiffing everyone involved with your service that evening. Not to mention the fact that yes, while servers are required to be paid at least minimum wage, the assistance that they may get on a slow night often is paid towards taxes (by the way, the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is 2.13 dollars/hour and this hasn’t been raised since 1991). In many establishments, servers lose their entire paychecks to taxes. Their entire livelihood is based on the cash they carry out each night in tips. Your refusal to tip could make the difference in a server’s ability to pay their bills on time.

So, how much should you tip your server? In many restaurants if you’re eating in a large party, the gratuity is included in your bill, so no need to worry. Otherwise, you should be tipping 15-20 percent (I personally always tip at least 20 percent). As a consumer, it is your job to be conscious of the amount of food you’re buying, and you should be able to provide the appropriate tip based on that final check. I’ve always cited a common server’s proverb: if you can’t afford to leave a proper tip, you can’t afford to eat out. 


Sara Sanders ’14 (Server at Chuong Garden) 

and your Servers in the Grinnell Community

Sharon R. Tan ’14 (Server/Bartender at Prairie Canary)

Rita McCall ’16 (Server at Prairie Canary)

Jenna Holt ’14 (Server at Prairie Canary)

Logan Shearer ’14 (Server at Chuong Garden)

Nicole Huffman ’14 (Server/Bartender at Prairie Canary)

Eva Dawson ’14 (Former Server at Prairie Canary)

Jeanette Miller ’14 (Server/Bartender at Relish)

Jesse Romo ’15 (Server at Prairie Canary)

Melissa Melloy ’16 (Server at Prairie Canary)

Ursula McDaid ’15 (Server at Chuong Garden)

Braden Brown ’14 (Server at Chuong Garden)

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