As a bartender who’s responsible for to-go orders at the restaurant/bar I work at…I can tell you that, on average, about 50% of the people who order to-go tip me for it. The average tip for to-go orders is about 12%, for those who do tip me.
I’ll be honest; to-go orders are a huge pain in the ass, b/c I have to take the order over the phone, ring it in, package it up in the back–the main entree, plus all those little sides of ranch and ketchup and mustard and the baked potato toppings on the side, etc.—collect the money for it, and then pay taxes on it. And if I’m busy at the bar, it’s hard for me to spare the time to do all this, particularly for free, when I’m neglecting my tipping customers and ignoring my bar while I’m back there in the kitchen.
A to-go order is actually more trouble than if you just ate it at the bar. Trust me.
However, it’s ingrained in a lot of peoples’ minds that a to-go order is a “get out of jail free” card as far as tipping goes, b/c I didn’t wait on them, so I look at to-go as one of the crappy side-duties of my job. I don’t get paid for it (half the time) and I don’t enjoy it, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. In my mind, it’s honestly the restaurant’s fault for making me do it, vs. having a “to-go” person who gets paid a real wage to do it like some other places.
I myself don’t order take-out from restaurants very often, but when I do, I tip 15% on it, just b/c I work in the industry. And my advice to anyone who orders take-out regularly from the same restaurants would be to tip; like Shayna said, you’ll become a priority.