It's 2023, and I hate to say it... but society has moved on from that brief window of time when service industry workers were considered "heroes." Back when COVID was raging, many of us were empathetic to the struggle servers faced when in-person dining shut down. No in-person dining meant no tips, and so we turned up the dial on tipping for takeout.

But things have been more or less "back to normal" for a while now, and it's left many of us wondering if we still need to be tipping that high... especially if the quality of service has stayed the same.

It's certainly nothing against service industry workers. Hell, I'd tip 50% all the time if my income allowed it. But lower and middle class Americans have been feeling the pinch of inflation for awhile, and it's forced us to re-examine where our dollars are going.


A recent piece assembled jointly by GrubStreet and New York Magazine has tackled the tipping issue head-on, in their "Exhaustive, Decisive Guide to Existing in Polite Society":

It is now almost impossible to make any sort of purchase without being confronted with a Square screen asking for 15, 20 or 25 percent. And not just for a coffee: Buying a water bottle at the deli or crackers at a specialty grocery store now sometimes also prompts the option. This might irritate or confuse you, but the reality is there are new social expectations around what deserves a tip.

We're going to sum up the bullet points of the guide below:


Pre-COVID, the range of socially-acceptable tips was between 15 and 20 percent. Post-COVID, it's increased to 20-25 percent. It's important to remember that in many restaurants, tips are pooled, and just because your server forgot to bring out an extra side of ranch doesn't mean you should punish the entire staff.


You don't have to tip as much as a dine-in restaurant, but the guide recommends tipping at least 20 percent. If you're just grabbing a single coffee, $1 is acceptable. If you're buying an item like a bottle of water, you don't need to tip. 


The guide says you should tip a minimum of $5 or 20% on food delivery, but should tip more in bad weather.



This is where many of us get tightfisted. But the guide says you should tip at least 10 percent. Their reasoning is, a takeout order interrupts the regular workflow of the servers and hosts dependent on tips.


Tip at least $1 per beer or wine, or 20% for a fancy mixed drink or cocktail.


...the higher your disposable income, the more you should be tipping... at least according to the guide. You can check out the original post here.

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