Curbside Pickup - To Tip or not to Tip?

So, I’m hitting the local Outback Steakhouse: Curbside… and I’m not sure whether or not to tip the food-bringer-outer-bill-ringer-upper?

What’s the procedure here? A buck or two… or is nothing expected?

Since this is a fairly new phenomena I decided that if it’s really cold outside, really hot, or raining I will tip a buck or two.
If it’s nice out I don’t tip anything.

I wouldn’t, it’s not like their waiting on you. OTOH, do they get paid a normal wage (not that it matters, you’re not getting restaurant service)?

It’s expected. I asked a curbside server (at Outback) one time, and she said that yep, they do expect to get tips.

However, I’ve never done curbside, so I don’t know what the expected percentage is.

But, again, yeah they are counting on gratuities as part of their income.

Could somebody please explain just how these restaurants work? I’m intrigued.

Take your ordinary restaurant, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Olive Garden, etc. You call and place a take-out order. They ask what kind of car you drive. You drive to the restaurant and park in one of the spots out front marked “curb-side pick-up”. A worker runs out to your car with your food, you pay them, you leave.

thanks all… I was really more concerned that the staff relies on tips as their income (like wait staff). Even though I find the practice of tipping annoying, I do accept it as a part of the way things are done and abide accordingly. Gotta keep those that serve in check. :wink:

Or at least the person you asked expected to get a tip. If you ask anybody whether or not they’d like a tip, what answer would you expect other than “yes”?

Thanks Hampshire. Never heard of that before. I guess we might call it a “Drive-Not-Thru”.

Why, it’s a matter of noblesse oblige, man! The lower they bow and scrape, the more change you throw at them! That hat had better come off, of course, and take a few centavos off next time if they turn their back on you while leaving.

(Only joking here of course – but this is basically why the service industry in most of Europe has the service charges included in the cost of the food and no practice of tipping, and in some places is considered an insult. Not in the good ol’ U.S. of A though, where cash is ace, king, queen and jack.)

Since this thread is more about informed opinions, let’s move it.

samclem GQ moderator

You’re not occupying a table for an hour.
You’re not consuming more than 30 seconds of anyone’s time.
You’re not dirtying their dishes.
The food’s gone cold by the time you get home.
If you don’t like eating out of cardboard containers, you dirty your own dishes, which you then need to wash.

But you still pay full price and they want a tip? Screw that!

They take the time to receive your call
They take your order, however long it takes for you to make up your mind, ask about specials, etc.
They turn your order in to the kitchen
They go back to the kitchen to pick up your order
They (hopefully!) check each item is correct, then package it all up for you, including adding condiments, utensils & napkins
They bring your food to you
They get a tip – granted, not nearly as much of a tip as had they done all of the above, plus check back once or twice to ensure everything’s ok, fill water glasses, etc., and maybe clear your plates when you leave (if it’s not done by a busperson), and not as much of a tip as the person who did all of the above, plus drove it to your house and delivered it to your front door, but a modest tip for their trouble and your convenience, nonetheless.

There have been more than a few threads about tipping for curbside/carryout, and well, let’s just say some folks hold some pretty strong opinions about this topic, on both sides. Tipping threads tend to end in tears, I’m just warning ya. :smiley:

Anyway…I always tip. I figure they are doing a service for me, even if it’s not as strenuous as table service, so I throw them a couple bucks. I have heard that carryout servers get paid more hourly than those waiting tables, so I don’t give my usual 15-20% but usually more like 10%.

Short answer: Tip.

Reason: at Outback, curbside employess get paid sub-minimum wage. This is legal because tips are customary and expected… according to the employer. In practice, many people don’t tip, or tip 5% and below, so every decent tip counts for a lot. Honestly, these kids make about $6 an hour on a GOOD night… don’t begrudge them a few extra dollars. 10-15% makes their day.

Also, they’re not doing all that much less than a server. They are taking your order and putting it in accurately, just like a server. They package your food (and condiments, and bread, and napkins, and silverware, etc.) and bring it to you from the kitchen. This is also what a server does, except the servers don’t have to box everything just so. They then ring everything up and present your check to you within a reasonable amount of time, just like a server. No, they aren’t coming by to make sure that everything was satisfactory, but if you call back and say it wasn’t, they will be accountable and will be making the necessary corrections… just like a server. What don’t they do? They don’t refill your drinks, and they don’t bring you any little thing you need during your meal (most of that is already in the bag). Therefore it’s ok to tip them less, but if you don’t tip them at all, well, you kinda suck. Argue about it being unfair all you want, but it’s a lot less fair to the poor kid who makes 4 bucks an hour because his boss told him he’s going to get tips.

Someone who walks in the weather to bring my food to me while I’m sitting in my car is going to get a couple of bucks.

I always tip for carside service, moreso if the weather is especially cold or wet.

Yeah, a little. WAG ~ 10%. Sure, they didn’t do much but it’s only $3-4.

Out of curiosity, do all of these places that do curbside pick-up pretty much refuse to do normal carry-out now? I mean, I’m not opposed to tipping and do so gladly when I dine in. But if I can save 3-4 bucks by getting my fat ass out of the car and walking up to the hostess I’m gonna do it. I mean, I’m pretty sure that it’s not expected or customary to tip for carry-out orders (as much as the Subway guy tries with his sad little tip cup). Though since the server does the exact same work for a carry-out as a curbside, you figure they are only getting tipped for that 20 foot walk to the car.

We did this once and didn’t tip. But after thinking about it, I felt bad that I didn’t. I say a buck.

In our defense, due to Outback’s lack of sufficient staffing on New Year’s Eve, it wasn’t a convenient way to get our food by any means. It took an hour longer than promised to get our food. But that wasn’t the kid’s fault, which is why I still felt bad about stiffing him. I guilt-tipped the next time we ate there. Added a buck to my usual 20% tip. I know…that makes no sense at all, but that’s how my brain works.