There are some things that I think should change in the U.S. If you want to be an attorney in the United States, then you should serve a good amount of time on jury duty. It should be required as part of your graduate work. This will also raise the bar on jury trials.
Along that line of thinking, I feel if you are to have the pleasure of eating in a fine dining establishment, not casual or fast food, you should have worked in the food service industry to understand how difficult that job can be and why you should tip. Having worked at a 24 hr coffee shop/lounge in high school, I saw all ends of the industry and will always appreciate the efforts made by food service industry staff to make my experience a pleasure.
In most restaurants, the wait staff makes minimum wage or less; usually less. They take abuse from patrons who have had a bit too much to drink or are just having a bad day. They are at the mercy of the cooks, the hostesses and bus help. What's even worse is that many restaurants require all tips to be pooled and split amongst the servers, the busboys, and, on rare occasions, the host or hostess. This means that even great servers often get shorted money when someone decides not to leave a tip after a bad experience.
How much to tip and who to tip in dining situations, always brings up questions. Here are guidelines to guide you through this tricky maze.
First - TIPPING is part of the dining experience, no matter which country you originate from, if you dine in the U.S., you are expected to tip accordingly.
Dining - A standard tip is 15%. If you have a tough time with the math, look at the before tax total. Take 10% and add half that in again for your 15%. If you had amazing service, consider 20 - 25%, depending on the total. If you take advantage of happy hour, 2 for 1 specials or 1/2 off 2nd entree specials, tip based on all of the food served, not just what you paid for. The restaurant offered the deal, but the server worked just as hard to serve the meal. Horrible experience - really? Was it their fault or were you just in a foul mood? If it was truly horrible, not only would you not tip or only tip 10%, but you should speak to the manager.
Bartenders - Round of drinks, consider at least $1 per drink (draft or bottle beer) and a $2 tip for mixed or more complicated cocktails or at least 20% if they made a great drink for you. These situations are bit more lenient depending on level of the bar, so use your judgment and tip accordingly. Be certain to have your payment ready, as making the server wait is a waste of their time and others patrons waiting for service. Also, if you pay cash and tip at least $10.00 your first round the bartender will remember you. Then, you can give the bartender your credit card and start a tab.
To-Go Orders - Did you know the host(ess) is usually the one who puts together the order? Have you ever ordered a meal to-go from your favorite restaurant and your meal is neatly packaged for dining anywhere complete with utensils, condiments and any extras? You usually have the host(ess) to thank with an assist from a server. Consider tipping them the same as you would if you were there, it will make their night. If this feels too steep, a flat fee of at least $2 - $5 is becoming customary.
We are so privileged in this country to choose any restaurant based on our budget, endless cuisines and options. Think about this, if the customer were tipped by the server, would you ever earn your 15%?