Letter: Further Tips

I am writing in support of the column you ran regarding the importance of restaurant tipping etiquette. ["Tipping Point," Frank Talk by Frank Cagle, Feb. 7, 2013] Many people are unaware that the minimum hourly wage for restaurant employees is $2.65. Even fewer are aware that the word "tips" is an acronym for "To Insure Prompt Service." Because income is dependent on performance, this system offers workers an incentive to provide adequate service. For customers, tipping guarantees service and reasonable meal costs that would otherwise be more expensive if salaries were factored into menu pricing.

Restaurant etiquette suggests that customers leave a 20 percent tip. When people have an unpleasant experience, specifically at the fault of the server, then the tip given should be directly proportional to the quality of service provided. If guests are unsatisfied with the preparation of their food, the fault of the kitchen, the tip for the server should not reflect that. Servers are the customers' advocates in the kitchen; chefs are paid salaries, earning the same amount regardless of the quality of service provided.

As brought to attention in your article, gratuity is an issue of recent controversy. The defiant pastor described used a false analogy, speaking in terms of annual income rather than the total dinner bill. This inaccurate statement reduces his credibility. Large parties spend more than small parties, and are likely to tip less. A low tip does not compensate for high restaurant sales. Because large parties are more likely to stifle the amount tipped, gratuity is added in consideration of the server, guaranteeing adequate earnings proportional to the labor required.

The restaurant industry is often sought out for its convenience, rather than appeal. As a restaurant employee myself, I recognize that most employees are working in the industry as a means of earning extra money to either pay for schooling or support a family. My mother is a server and single mom. Earning appropriate tips is essential to her ability to provide for our family. Tipping is a simple aspect of America's capitalistic economic system. If customers are unwilling to contribute to an employee's income, then they should not dine out.

Hannah Bodnar

Rockford, Mich.