Listen, we need to talk. A discussion about tipping etiquette during this weird time needs to take place.

Don't get me wrong, I understand tipping is not something that is mandatory, it's something generally done when you receive good service. But it's important that you do. Whether you order takeout, whether you eat outside, heck even when we open up again and we can dine indoors, you should tip!

Obviously the coronavirus pandemic caused a severe shift in the industry. Restaurants have found themselves adapting to the take out or curbside requirements to keep their business afloat, while others have had to shut down completely. It's important to realize that during this time just like prior, that tips for a large majority of those in the industry make up a substantial part of their income.

I get it. There's a lot changing and it's hard to navigate through. But think of it like this. The people who became unemployed during the pandemic were dependent on that source of income to provide for themselves and their families. Much like those people, those who are servers or bartenders depend on the tips in most circumstances to make ends meat.

Let's chat about takeout. We've grown accustom to it because of the pandemic. Maybe you think that it's not necessary to tip in this case, but you absolutely should.

What you may not realize, is just because that waitress or bartender isn't coming to your table, refilling your beverage every time it's out or asking if you need anything else, what you may not realize is that they may be back in the kitchen. They may be taking your order like they normally would, just over the phone. They may be working along side the kitchen staff to make sure each order is prepared the way that it should be, based on what was ordered. They may be the one bagging your meal. They may be the one cashing you out upon pickup. They may be the one delivering to your door.

I know there's some who disagree. That "only tip when they receive full, good service." That "don't have a job right now but have to feed their families."

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First of all, just because your experience isn't the typical "dining in" standard doesn't mean that the people behind it all aren't working just as hard. They may be going above and beyond, you just don't see it with your own eyes. Second, I get that times are tough right now. Think about it this way: if you lost your job before the pandemic - would you take your family out to a full service restaurant and still not tip?

It was announced by Gov. Cuomo earlier this week that restaurants in the Mohawk Valley could begin allowing customers to dine outdoors. As this happens, please remember that those who work where you are dining are navigating through this the best that they can, just like you. Things are different whether we want them to be or not. The standard of tipping appropriately should remain the same, if not increase.

Don't think that tipping, whether taking out food or dining outside is necessary? Cnet Personal Finance was able to break it down to show just exactly how much should be given as a gratuity during this pandemic:

  • Coffee shop baristas: $1 or so per drink, more for complicated beverages or less for basic orders
  • Dine-in restaurant servers: At least 20%
  • “Fast-casual counter service: Up to $1 for taking your order, $2 to $5 if they bus your table or deliver your food.”

If you're reading this open letter and you work in the industry - thank you. Thank you for doing your best to provide what you can in a time that is not normal. I will continue to support you and what you do by tipping appropriately when I dine or take out with your establishment.

Who's with me?