Fast Casual Tipping: Yes or No

There was a great question that got lost in the fierce debate over our recent post on tipping habits.  Disher “Alan” asks if there is any reason to tip when dining at a fast casual restaurant and/or ordering at the bar.  Usually, if you use your credit card, there is still the place to fill in a tip amount. Places like Village Burger Bar, Fuzzy’s Torchy’s, and Dive in Snider Plaza–What do you do?  Go.

30 comments on “Fast Casual Tipping: Yes or No

  1. I have seen people leave a few bucks on the table at places like Pei Wei and Mi Chula’s, but I almost never leave one…

  2. I rarely tip for counter service (Starbucks, to-go orders, fast food, etc.). The only time I do is if I really like the place and the employees and/or I’m a regular (which usually go hand-in-hand). Not much logic to it, I know, but I’m just being honest.

  3. If the staff doesn’t make a tipping wage (2.13/hr last time I heard) but rather makes the standard minimum, I don’t tip.

  4. No tip.. I am doing the work…

    I was at Baker Brothers the other day and they lined through the tip line so I couldn’t leave a tip.. I appreciated it, but would be better if they just removed the line.

  5. I almost always tip, but not like a 20% deal — a dollar or two, depending on how much I order.

  6. If someone brings me the food, like at Tin Star, Souper Salad, or Sonic as examples, then I leave a tip. If I go to the counter and get my food, like at Cafe Express or Mooyah, I do not leave a tip.

  7. Justin’s thinking is closest to my own. I tip whenever that tip is expected to replace a standard wage. I’ll usually tip bartenders also, but that’s about the only exception.

  8. I don’t tip at fast casual places. In fact, I get annoyed when there is a tip jar at the register. Tipping should not be so obviously expected.

  9. Someone last year called me a cheapskate and the usual drivel of “If you’re too cheap to tip you shouldn’t eat out” when I brought up this same point. I don’t like the pressure of the tip line at Village Burger or to-go orders at Fireside Pies. My thought last year was, do you tip the counter person at a fast food place at McDonald’s? Do you feel compelled to fill in the tip line at Village Burger because the person there feels more like a peer, as opposed to the people who work at the fast food places?
    And as for Justin’s remark, I reiterate, I don’t want to have to make the mental calculation of thinking about how much restaurant staff is getting paid.
    At Vietnam, when I eat their lunch buffet, I leave a dollar tip on an $8 buffet because they bring/refill my tea.

  10. If there’s significant interaction and I like the place (Fadi’s or Freebirds), then yes, maybe $1-$2. If it’s just a person punching a computer, then no.

  11. Pretty common sense here. You tip for service, the more service you get the more you tip. If they are punching in an order into their computer, about 10 cents will do. If they take your order, and deliver the food to your table with a midcourse rendition of the Macarena, then you obviously have to tip more… like 3 dollars or something.

  12. Depends on the fast casual. If it’s a place where they deliver the food, but I get up to refill my drink. I will usually give them something, but not 20%.

    If just counter service then no.

  13. Seriously people…don’t be so anal. If ANYONE gives you “service” then a “service”tip is appropriate. We all have our own standards OBVIOUSLY..but don’t shank out on the people that are working the lower cost establishments that deserve our “service” tips. Don’t be so cheap…give!

  14. I didn’t tip the dude at Village Burger Bar and he gave me this weird look and I never got my food until 45 min later when I got the owner to help me out! Anyway I tend to tip these kind of places mostly when I pay via credit card because of the dang tip line by my signature.

  15. I have long agonized over the FC tip jars with my strongest inclination being NOT to tip. Part of it is, this type of restaurant only came into vogue in the last 10 years and there has been no cultural precedence set with it, yet.

    I am a fairly regular patron of Twisted Root, Freebirds and Chipotle. I would say that of those, Chipotle tries to crank you through as fast as possible and doesn’t use the tip-line on receipts. And, they provide the exactly same level of service that Freebirds does. The only difference is that FB is largely staffed by college-aged, indie hipster types while Chptl is staffed by almost-entirely Latino workers.

    Based on the responses here, it sounds like it’s purely an emotional response (e.g. – “I really like the people…”) rather than a perfunctory action based on social rules. I do not agree with Kat M. re: anyone giving you a service gets a tip. Problem with that logic is this scenario is that I’m going to fast-casual for a reason: I don’t WANT to spend money for the service. I just want the food. And you have a problem with that, pay your workers more and build it into the cost of the price. But, leave the tips out of it.

  16. @Justin: How do you know what their wage is? Maybe FC places should post their wage policy. If there’s a tip line on the CC receipt I usually put in a dollar or two. I am thinking of adding a tip jar to my desk, next to my paper clip jar!

  17. Go to and search some of the larger, nationwide fast casual places (Pei Wei, Chipotle, etc.) and you’ll see that no one is making food server wages. The service component is built into the hourly wages already. I would bet that this is fairly standard across this niche of restaurants.

  18. I tip if there is service. Service is not taking my order and making change. If you bring drinks, refills, etc. then you get a tip. Even as a loyal Twisted Root guy, I do not hit the tip jar or line unless something extraordinary happens.

    The tip jar for counter service = pan handling in my book. Plays on my guilt of having a few dollars in my pocket when others might not.

  19. I normally do tip if a bartender is getting the order ready but not the full 20%. They are doing a partial service so they don’t get the entire amount. As for places like Paneras, I do tip the change sometimes.

  20. Well the barhops at Sonic make $2.13 an hour….. and that is Sonic’s way of getting away with not having to pay minimum wage to all its employees. And since they’ve installed the card swipers where you order, you don;t even get a choice to offer your barhop a tip. Unless they’ve changed the pay structure there in the last few years. I ALWAYS tip the barhops at Sonic.

  21. They don’t get away with anything cp. If the tips don’t make up minimum wage for the carhops, the Sonic franchisee must make up the difference to at least minimum wage.

  22. @ Kat Mendenhall: then do you suggest we tip the lady at kroger ringing our groceries up? if someone takes my cart with all my bags to the car, then yes, i tip. but when was the last time anyone saw that actually happen?

  23. I dont mind tipping but tip jars are getting out of hand. I went to Society bakery and they had a tip jar. I know theyre good but come on! Places around town that do that I think its ridiculous, anybody?

  24. At a FC restaurant, I provide the service…so by that definition I guess I should get the tip?

    Seriously, this is ridiculous. I do not tip at a place where all the employees do is take my order and my money.

    I do tip the carhops at Sonic; the biggest reason perhaps being that most of the time on weekends, the carhops are local high school students trying to raise money for one cause or another. I’m happy to support them because they are working hard for the money.

    Speaking of Sonic and the card readers…that in no way eliminates the possibility of leaving a tip. I always tip at Sonic despite frequently paying for my food with credit card.

  25. I will say that I tip if I ask for something extra or out of the ordinary that they have to accomodate. For example, once I went to Einstein’s and got bagels and asked that they be cut into 1/8ths rather than halves. The place was crowded and my special request took a few extra minutes, so I did leave a tip. If they had not been busy, I might not have been so inclined.