Question- Do you tip the restaurant owner?

restaurant table setting

In the US, it’s generally accepted that when you eat at a restaurant, you must tip. The general guideline is 15-20%, more or less, and is based on the performance of the server. There are many differing opinions on gratuities, especially with individuals who have themselves been servers/waiters/waitresses.

I like to eat at mom and pop restaurants. At many of these restaurants, the owner or family will be the one serving your food. After you meal, do you tip the owner?

I feel uncomfortable tipping the owner of a restaurant. I feel like it’s almost an insult to the owner. Tipping carries an underlying connotation of class structure. You tip people that serve you. By tipping someone, you are implying that (for this interaction at least) you are above them. This is further cemented by the accepted salary for waitstaff which is $2.13 an hour in Texas. many waiters and waitresses depend on tips to make a living.

I do not own a restaurant, but as an entrepreneur, I consider restaurateur to be a position of prestige. By tipping the owner, you are lowering the class of the owner. I may be way off base here, but I don’t believe a restaurateur goes into business expecting to make tips. You figure out your costs and other variables and set your prices to make a profit. The owner is not being paid $2.13 an hour.

It’s stupid to assume that there aren’t restaurant owners out there that want/need that extra money. And if you like a restaurant, it makes sense that you want to help the restaurant stay afloat. I think a better policy would be to order extra food or dessert to go. Bring this food to a friend with a business card or takeout menu. Here’s the important part: be sure to tell the owner that you loved the food so much that you’re bringing some to a friend. You are supporting your local restaurant without tipping. Even more so, you are spreading the word about the restaurant and potentially generating more business. Do you think the owner would rather have your 5 bucks now or more people coming through the doors?

Do you think restaurant owners should be tipped?

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12 Comments to “Question- Do you tip the restaurant owner?”

  1. Myriad
    October 15, 2009

    Honestly, I would tip the restaurant owner simply because I’d feel uncomfortable NOT tipping them. I’d just not give a huge tip. This does contrast with my other views–I don’t like to tip delivery guys because, at least here, they’re making 14 bucks an hour with gas compensation for each trip. That’s more than I make. I tip but, like I said, only because I’m uncomfortable not tipping. However, no matter what I order (a small pizza, or a huge meal for me and friends), I tip between 2-4 bucks.

  2. roatha
    October 19, 2009

    Thanks for the comment! I have the same feeling about tipping an owner. I feel uncomfortable about not leaving a tip. I used to leave a couple bucks anyways if I knew I was being served by the owner. However, I like the idea of letting the owner know I’m bringing the extra food to a friend. This ensures they know you’re not just being cheap. At regular restaurants, I tend to overtip. I’m Asian and I’m doing my little part to squash the (somewhat true) stereotype that Asians tip badly.
    As for delivery people, I don’t have a problem tipping because 1) delivery is actually a pretty dangerous job and 2) I’m worried that my next pizza will come with an “extra topping” if I stiff them on the tip. I also tend to order right before closing and feel bad about it.
    Isn’t it weird that tipping is so engrained into our culture that retaliation is expected for a bad tip?

  3. Gerry
    November 17, 2009

    I agree with tipping the owner. The main goal of any owner is to have more customers. I think that by taking food to a friend (feel free to bring me some) it will make them willing to go and try the restaurant out on a later date. The main goal though is to let the owner know that you will be doing this. It may prove beneficial later on if you ever go visit the restaurant again…maybe a free dessert. So don’t feel to bad about having that feeling as you are not alone.

  4. Pasta dies
    September 29, 2010

    You choose a very topic.

    Sure, why not? The owner is providing the same service that he would normally pay an employee to do. Just because he makes above minimum wage doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be rewarded for doing the same work as someone you would tip.

    I don’t think his feelings are going to be hurt if he doesn’t get a tip, but if you were going to tip someone anyway, then what’s the harm in giving him the money?

  5. S Lloyd
    December 1, 2010

    Nope! Just the wait staff. Wouldn’t make sense 2 tip the owner

  6. Hayward
    April 5, 2013

    You don’t tip the owner of a business, whether restaurant, hairdresser, or what have you. An owner gets the profit of the entire business, and is essentially marking up the labor of the employees. Employees are tipped, or the hairdresser renting a chair from the owner gets tipped, but not the owner.

  7. Lux
    May 29, 2013

    I am the owner of a restaurant, and since becoming one I ALWAYS tip other owners, and here’s why:

    1. If the owner is waiting tables they probably need the money. FYI- All of my tipped full-time employees make far more than I do as owner!

    2. They may have a tip-pooling arrangement, so you are tipping the employees when you tip the owner in that situation.

    3. I am NEVER insulted whatsoever by a tip. A tip tells me as the owner that customers enjoyed their experience. No tip means they didn’t.

  8. Rose Murphy
    July 3, 2013

    I think you should tip the owner. If you are unable for the expense stay home and save your money,,, some people complain that the bill is too high… We have a group of about 20 that eats out every Wed. for breakfast and we have a reservation for 8 am and most of the group arrive about 7 am and the owner serves them coffee until they are ready to get their order at 8 AM… well some of the group can drink one or two pots of coffee by 8 AM.. then some place an order of toast….well they need to tip who ever serves you owner or waitress…but some people like to complain anyway…this pisses me off.

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