Posted by: Chris | April 30, 2008

How Viable are Tips?

Exciting title, eh? Well, this is a shorter post, so there’s today’s improvement. One aspect at a time! (After better titles comes the removal of words like “aspect.”)

Anyway, on to what I really want to talk about: tips. Yesterday, I had lunch with my friend Miles. We went to one of Tulsa’s best-yes, I said best hamburger joints: Ron’s. [PS-to Ron’s: contact me about your (new) website.] While perusing the menu, I clicked a quick picture, which you see here, to introduce the concept of tipping front-line service employees (or, for those who read my blog with any degree of regularity, FLSEs).

Notice at the bottom of the menu, the line, “PLEASE REMEMBER…SERVERS WORK ON TIPS.” As one who spent many years as a server, I have an immediate appreciation for such an admonition. Especially at a restaurant like Ron’s, which, making a completely closed-minded, stereotypical assumption, probably sometimes attracts clientèle that is not familiar with niceties like leaving a 15% (minimum) tip for services rendered. I mentally commended the management for going to bat for their FLSEs as they did.

Then I started wondering, what would a full-service restaurant in which tipping was abolished look like? Maybe I should say “unnecessary,” not “abolished.” I think I know what the latter would look like: empty.

So my question is, is this possible? What would the pay have to be in order to attract and retain servers? How would this affect the dynamic between servers and guests? (Words like “sincerity” and “loyalty” come to mind.) What about between servers and management? (words like “Communism” might come to mind.) How empowered would/could servers be? What other rewards would be available to servers to compensate for the loss of those nights when “everyone was tipping at least 30% and my tables were turning like crazy”? (Keep in mind, I’m talking normal restaurants here-$15-$35/plate.) I honestly don’t know if it’s possible or if it would work. I just want to know your thoughts on the issue.



  1. Hi, Chris. Do you happen to have an email address where I could contact you? I would love to talk to you about a few things concerning marketing.

    If you get this and don’t mind could you contact me at brfeatherstone at hotmail dot com just let me know it is you.

    Thanks a lot.


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