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Tipped-Off: Tips On Dining Dynamics

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

My disposition was never one that allowed me to take orders (though I’ve REALLY mellowed over time and actually revel in having a giving and serving spirit, well, as long as the requests aren’t too unreasonable), but I did go out with a guy, who in our early efforts to get life on its way, worked as a waiter in one of the hottest waterfront hot-spots on The Island. And, we quickly learned that his efforts, attention to detail, and his sparkling personality weren’t always commensurately rewarded. Ironically enough most of us, while we “do” enjoy a dining out and a reprieve from the kitchen, aren’t too keen on leaving a large tip, especially when accompanied by an equally large bill. Still, it’s the bulk of your server’s salary, so when it comes to tipping, here’s a tip that won’t leave anyone ticked-off.

Unless the server was inattentive, rude and just generally lousy, the standard tip is between 15 to 20 percent, leaning toward the higher end of the gratuity spectrum for ultra-fine dining establishments and service. According to the Zagat Survey, the norm, in most places is about 18 percent. And, if you order a drink at the bar (while you’re waiting to be seated) its best to show your appreciation for services rendered with a tip or 15 to 20 percent of the beverage bill or at minimum, $1 per drink. Coat checkers should be tipped at least $1 per coat. Sommeliers, in fine dining establishments get between 10 to 20 percent of the cost of wine (cash only), an amount that can be deducted from the total tip. Delivery personnel such as those bringing pizza or Chinese food directly to your door should be tipped 15 percent of the bill, though servers behind convenience store and deli counters need not be tipped. If they “do” have a tip, leave what you are comfortable “donating” at your discretion.

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