Tipping for takeout: not required, but appreciated

While most people don't think of tipping for a takeout order, KC staff writer Rachel Rosenblatt uses her personal experience to explain why tipping for takeout is greatly appreciated.


Rachel Rosenblatt

As a To-Go Specialist, Rosenblatt explains the importance of tipping for takeout.

“Am I supposed to tip you?”

This is one of the most awkward and uncomfortable questions I receive at my job. I am a To-Go Specialist, which is basically a fancy way of saying that I’m the person who brings up your takeout order at a restaurant. Or at least, that’s what most people see.

In reality, there is much more that goes into working on takeout, and oftentimes the customer does not take this into account and therefore does not tip. But behind the scenes, there is so much more going on.

I can only speak from my personal experience, where the pressure that falls on us to prep and handle everything on our own can be overwhelming. We face many of the pitfalls a server may encounter, but often our mistakes are thrust into the spotlight and take away from the experience for the guest.

If food does not come out of the kitchen by the order’s pickup time, we get no tip. If a lid slips off one of the boxes but no food spills, we get no tip. If we forgot an item from the check, we get no tip. If we bring the food up in a timely manner, double check that we have remembered all the meals on the check, offer a highly positive attitude, we usually still get no tip.

I’m not saying that you have to tip on all sorts of takeout orders, and I’m not saying you should always range between the 15-20% range, but tipping should be considered based on the effort of the employee. If you see no effort, your order requires no tip. But if the effort is so palpable you can’t possibly ignore it, then I urge you to just give the tip jar a second thought.