You Need to Tip Servers

Why tipping service workers is essential

Chloe Froeschner, Reporter

I have worked in a restaurant for almost a year now and it took no time at all to realize that most teens have never learned how to properly tip or know the significance of tips in general. This is not teenagers’ fault, but it is time to learn.

Server’s paychecks are predominantly made up of tips. Servers are paid under minimum wage because they are expected to get a hefty amount of tips. According to NELP, The National Employment Law Project, “The median share of hourly earnings that come from tips account for 58.5 percent of wait staff’s earnings”.  Bluebird Diner in Iowa City, where I work, pays their servers seven dollars an hour. Seven dollars an hour is much more than most other restaurants in Iowa City, but is still under minimum wage.

Kimberly Marquez ‘22, a server at Bluebird Diner in Iowa City, says that on her Saturday night shifts, which are nine hours long, she will make between $110 and $160 in tips. She will get paid sixty-three dollars from Bluebird for her nine hour shift (minus tax) and take home almost double that amount in tips.

Another thing people might not realize is that servers do not get to take home all of their tip money. They have to tip the bussers, the kitchen staff, the restaurant itself, and others depending on the restaurant’s policies. For example, as a busser at Bluebird, I get tipped about fifteen dollars per six hour shift I work. That is typically the sum of three or four servers tipping me a percentage of their total tips from that day.

Most of you are probably asking yourselves, “but why can’t restaurants just pay their servers more? Why do I have to pay them for doing their job?” And to that I would say, I’m wondering the same thing. That is a whole separate issue within the food service industry, but until that is fixed, servers need to be tipped more. Tipping servers more now is a quick fix until we can fix the deeper issue.

Before working in the food service industry, I failed to realize that every employee at a restaurant is human too. Obviously I recognized that they were people, but I never truly thought about it. Now that I am behind the scenes, I get to see who servers really are. I work with so many different people. I work with college students who are saving money to pay their rent. I work with parents who earn money to help their family. I work with highschool students who are saving money to go to college. I also get to see how customers have influenced my coworkers. I have seen my coworkers cry and have anxiety attacks because of how their tables have treated them. I have seen how tips and customers impact my coworker’s lives.

So how do you tip your server in a sit-down restaurant? The normal amount to tip is fifteen to twenty percent of your total bill. Marquez has noticed that twenty-two percent has increasingly become the new normal tipping amount. A quick math calculation on your phone is all it takes to find out the amount you should tip. (Bill total x 0.22) = how much you should tip. If you are looking for extra bonus points from your server, Marquez suggests tipping in cash instead of using a card which taxes money from the server.

As a busser who experiences the behind the scenes of the food industry, I am also a teenager who wants to save money, so I see both sides. I understand that teens don’t think it is their responsibility to help pay servers more than their actual employers and that tipping can be confusing. On the other hand, from working alongside servers, I can tell you that they deserve every cent they get in tips and more. Until we can change how much servers get paid by their employers, please tip your servers well.