Take-out orders: tip or don't tip?

A 25-year-old server at a Florida restaurant says she lost her job after posting on Facebook that she didn't get tipped for a $735 take-out order placed by a local church.

Tamlynn Yoder told the Palm Beach Post that she took to social media after Christ Fellowship church placed a 75-item order Wednesday from Outback Steakhouse in Palm Beach Gardens.

Yoder said that because she spent much of her shift preparing the order, she only made $18 in total tips that day.

That incident had many discussing that big question Monday: do you tip on a to-go order or do you not?
Dr. Kevin Murphy at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management said that it’s a situation where there’s really no standard. 

Speaking to many servers and even specific to-go servers who attend the college, most said it’s considered proper to tip a to-go server at a sit-down restaurant.

"We do a lot of the work to get that to-go order correct and precise and accurate,” said one student adding that to-go servers often take your order from the phone, to prepping and plating, out to your vehicle and process your payment all while taking care of special instructions and dietary considerations."

Murphy said the trickiest part of the equation is the pay those to-go servers get.

Some restaurants pay them more, knowing that the tips often aren’t as generous in the take-out department, but he said that’s not always the case. Sometimes those servers are on the same or a similar pay scale to all of the other servers in the restaurant.

"So they can pay them less than minimum wage and use the tip credit,” said Dr. Murphy.

Even then though, Murphy said there’s not really a good answer to the question.

As the debate over the topic went viral Monday many commented that to-go service does not include a lot of the basics (drink refills, checking on tables, etc) that many people use to calculate their tip at a restaurant. The situation got even grayer for many as they factored in the many variables of to-go service like car-side service versus walking in to get your order.

So the answer: there isn’t really one. Tipping, as always, is in the hands of each person individually, and unless it’s factored into the bill, that’s likely how it will stand.

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