Tipping On Carryout Orders – Yay Or Nay?

Lines on credit card receipts for tips have popped up everywhere.  It used to be that sit-down service was the only place where a tip applied.  Now, that is not so much.  Tipping on carryout orders is now a fairly common practice.  At least, if you believe how often the tipping lines appear.

So, what is the expectation for tipping on carryout orders?

tipping on carryout orders
Tipping on carryout orders is more common now than ever.

The Case For Tipping On Carryout Orders

While some would say that restaurants are being greedy looking for tips on carryout orders, many workers would likely disagree.

In many cases, workers are dedicated to the carryout section of a restaurant.  There is a local pizza place that we love, but we’ve started doing carryout only.  It’s so popular that waits for tables are usually at least 30 minutes, even on the least busy day of the week.  So, the solution is to purchase carryout.

Apparently we aren’t the only people who have thought of this marvelous idea.  The carryout area is extremely busy. There are wait staff that are there permanently for their entire shift.  This is actually a good thing.  The last thing you’d want with a busy place is someone splitting time between tables and the carryout window.  I suppose that if you were looking at a place that had an occasional carryout order, this would be fine.  But for a busy place, at least one dedicated person is needed.  Maybe more.

The question is whether the people working the carryout order make the same wage as those waiting tables.  Most who wait tables make very little in wage.  They make the majority of their income in tips.  So, in that case, should someone be penalized with a lower wage?

While it’s true that they’re not bringing you the food, they are still working very hard to get your order ready.  They take the orders over the phone or from the online system.  They make sure they’re correct in the system.  Orders have to be bagged and assembled.  Any special requests need to be taken care of. Workers have to collect payments and verify customers are getting the correct order.

These are all pretty similar things that a waiter or waitress is responsible for.

The Case Against Tipping For Carryout Orders

Some would argue against tipping on carryout orders.

Waiters and waitresses have to manage multiple tables at a time. In addition to collecting the order and bringing food, they have additional responsibilities that carryout windows don’t.  They have to provide drinks.  They have to clean up.  In all likelihood, they’re moving around and hustling a lot more as they have more square feet to cover.

They also have to manage all of these things simultaneously.  A worker at a carryout spot needs to handle one order at a time. They enter an order, serve an order, pickup an order from the kitchen.  Each of these involves one thing at a time.  But a waiter or waitress might have four or five things at once. Drinks are ready for one table.  Orders need to be dropped off at the kitchen for another.  Food needs to be delivered.  And so on and so forth.

In short, someone working tables involves a lot more things potentially going on than a carryout worker typically has to deal with.

Where We Stand On Tipping With Carryout Orders

In the past, I didn’t necessarily tip on carryout orders.  It was such a new idea that it just didn’t seem necessary.

Now that I’ve had time to consider the different things I’ve mentioned, it makes more sense.  It also doesn’t hurt that it’s more of a common practice.

However, we don’t tip the same as we would a table server.   The reasons being is what I outlined above.  A table server does more and is involved with us for a longer period of time.  At least I hope!

Typically we’ll tip between 5-10% on a carryout order.  I think that’s more than fair.  So, if we get pizza and the bill is $20, we’ll leave $1 or $1.50 for a tip.  That seems reasonable to me.

Based on the number of people walking in and out in the short time we are there, that seems fair.  This assumes that everyone is tipping, or at least a majority are.  I’m not nosy so I really don’t know, but I have to assume it’s more common these days.

On one hand, it seems like a fair practice.  On the other hand, maybe we’re falling victim to an unnecessary inflation.  After all, it’s not like carryout is a new thing.  It’s been around for a long time.

I’m curious what you think.  Readers, do you tip on carryout orders? If so, what is your percentage? What are the factors that I may not have mentioned that you use to decide on whether or not to tip?

As always, thanks for reading.

5 thoughts on “Tipping On Carryout Orders – Yay Or Nay?”

  1. Maybe I’m old school, but my standard is whether or not additional effort beyond taking an order was required to serve me.

    Anything that’s order and delivered at a counter = no tip.

    Taking an order + refilling drinks + delivering food = tip

  2. I’ve had a similar predicament in the past! Typically I’ll do about a $1 per dish, so if it’s me and my wife I’ll tip about $2. Figure it’s a little something that’ll help!

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