feel like a sir

A Brief Guide to British Waiting and Tipping

British reader, Jack F., would like to enlighten the American tourists on proper tipping and etiquette when visiting the United Kingdomwww.anglotopia.net.

This is more of a change of perspective for any American visitorswww.wikihow.com, than a story. Whilst the site is great, and I love the anecdotes, some parts are inconsistent with how we work in the UK!
http://www.igotstiffed.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/American-Tourists-42x42.gif 42w" sizes="(max-width: 160px) 100vw, 160px" />If I serve a table damn well, everything happy, starters, mains and desserts, 10% is normal. I am happy and content. 15% is rare and is only for seriously good service, I get 15% 1 in 50 tables or so. At the end of a busy lunch and dinner all day shift, I can expect to walk away with £30-50. We get ours average % calculated when we are cashed down, and a normal range is 6-8% for a normal day, with 8-10% for a good day. Averages above 10% are almost unheard of. I am a university student, and work at a mid-sized family-owned Italian restaurant in my home town, when I am back with my family for the summers. 50 hours a week, hard work, earning the money. I earn the minimum wagewww.direct.gov.uk (£6.08/hr, US$9.57/hr), and get to receive 50% of my tips, the other half going to the kitchen, bar and managements staff. This is a fairly normal set up, and whilst there are variations in tip-pots at other UK restaurants, nothing varies hugely.
Another difference is that whilst we do work in sections, we do not have a hostess or host. Simply a manager (or a waiter, if we happen to be nearby and free) seats people from the door. There is no rotation, we just sit the customers at the best possible tables for the appropriate number of people. Some sections are better than others, but we roughly move around day by day.

http://www.igotstiffed.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/wireless-credit-card-machine-in-UK-restaurant-42x42.jpg 42w" sizes="(max-width: 200px) 100vw, 200px" />Finally, we do not have a check for the customer to write down their tip. This takes the formality and strong suggestion of tipping away, and often, people do not realise that they should tip. All card payments go through a digital machine, which is handed to the customer and asks if they wish to add a tip, but most people ignore the screen and proceed to type in their PIN. (Our way of signing for your card.)

Oh, and a final thing. It pains me to say this, but black people do not tip. Nobody says this, but I think us waiters with more experience have noticed this. I am a smart, confident and charming young man, and any tables of girls, ladies or families are prime targets for my big-tippers. Anyway, yes.. Thought I’d just give my two cents on how things work here. Everytime I read a story here and it goes “…and they ONLY gave me 15%”, I think (fuck me, I wish I get 15%!).


  1. Laura

    I live in Manitoba (Canada) and our minimum wage is $10/hr, and we expect 15-20% still, but it doesnt suck as bad when we get someone cheap.

  2. american server

    The main difference here is that you are making $9.57/hr in USD while we are making anywhere between $2-$3/hr. If I made $9.57/hr before tips, I would be content with 10-15% as well.

  3. Mike

    Yes, and you say you get minimum wage PLUS 50% of your tips? Maybe I read that wrong, but we here usually make much less than minimum wage. Every state i’ve worked in pays 2.13/hr opposed to the 7.25/hr minimum wage. Some states have to pay more, but this is very common. We only get that much to help cover taxes, and generally do not get paychecks at all. The ONLY thing we have to live on is the tips we get, and generally have to tip out on that. I pay out 3% of my sales, so if you tipped me 15%, I only see 12% of that, and that’s all i have to live on. No check coming in every week or 2.

  4. goldi272

    Thank you so much for your insight about this. I have to admit that I wasn’t sure about UK tipping customs, as I frequently serve UK nationals and other Euro. citizens. I was afraid to ask because I didn’t want to come across as a complaining server by doing so. Again, thank you for enlightening us; this is very helpful to know. I think it’s great that your tipped employee hourly wage is higher compared to that of the US, but I also didn’t realize you share your tips with back of house staff, either. Where I work, we tip out a busser 10% (which is well worth it on busy nights), 5% to the bartender (makes sense as they make our guests’ drinks), and another 5% to a “floor captain” (supervisor), which I think is crazy. I have a full time office job but I love waiting tables so much that I’ve been doing it on a part time basis for several years. The extra cash really comes in handy.

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