Tip jar

They're grateful for gratuities

tip jar
tip jar (Bigstockphoto)
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Q: This weekend I tried out Nando's, a new piri-piri place in downtown Silver Spring. Cute place with good food, but it's one of those places where you order and pay at the counter, get your own drink and condiments. Then a server brings your food to you and checks back. So it isn't totally self-serve, but it isn't full table service. What are the tipping expectations in a place like that?

Sietsema: Depending on the service, the size of my group and the check total at a place like that, I tend to tip starting from a buck or two on up.

Q: I am a server at a moderately priced restaurant out in a Montgomery County exburb and I had a really good experience with a particularly thoughtful customer last night. A group of three ladies took their time through their meal in my section, spending about 21/2 hours at my table.

When the restaurant is full, this can be a little bit frustrating because an occupied table that is not ordering more food or drinks essentially costs the server money. Since the restaurant wasn't full, it was really no big deal. They left me an appropriate tip, and I didn't think much more of it.

Lo and behold, one of the ladies returned 20 minutes later and handed me an additional tip for "camping out so long." Not until she left did I see that she left me about 40 percent of the bill amount after previously giving me a 20 percent tip. It was extremely generous and certainly not necessary, but it is worth noting that this level of kindness really makes a tough job a lot easier.

Sietsema: That is such a lovely story to share. Not all diners are cut from the same cloth.

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