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How much do you tip at a buffet?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Dining' started by Jimgotkp, Feb 9, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jimgotkp
    • Original Member

    Jimgotkp Gold Member

    So, I was at a buffet last night and was wondering what everyone else tips at a buffet. Since a server doesn't serve the food, I typically tip less than what I would at a full-service restaurant. The two things that I expect my server to do:

    1. Take away the dirty dishes ASAP
    2. Bring refills in a timely manner and kudos if I don't have to tell them for a refill.

    On average, I tip around 5-10% of the total bill depending on the service.

    How about you?
    jbcarioca, GoodBoy and uggboy like this.
  2. canucklehead
    • Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    I usually give 10-12%, more if the person who cleans up the table is very efficient in removing the used plates and refilling water.
  3. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    About the same as I tip the pizza delivery guy. ;)
    jbcarioca, dmel and GoodBoy like this.
  4. tom911
    • Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

    Never less than 10% and more typically 15% if there's good service, such as frequent beverage refills and quick clearance of used dishes.
  5. RestlessLocationSyndrome
    • Original Member

    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

    Depends on whether or not I am paying for the buffet or whether it is comped. Usually higher when I get comped. Also depends on the level of service... if drinks are refilled constantly and dirty plates are taken away quickly, I'll definitely give more. Final factor is buffet cost because some buffets are very costly while others are cheap and the level of service may not actually differ much.

    Thus, my range is quite large going from 5-25%
    jbcarioca and GoodBoy like this.
  6. bigx0

    bigx0 Gold Member

    I'd say around 10% and often more. If you make a few trips to the buffet it really isn't that much less work for server than a meal between topping off drinks and cleaning away dishes.
    IDGflygirl and GoodBoy like this.
  7. rookie10

    rookie10 Silver Member

    10% for me
    8MiHi and GoodBoy like this.
  8. kyunbit
    • Original Member

    kyunbit Silver Member

    I absolutely detest the culture of tipping.

    But I never tip less than 10% even at a buffet. Simply because most servers get paid way less than even the state minimum wages.
  9. Food Wine and Miles

    Food Wine and Miles Silver Member

  10. :p:Ddouble if it's a student, and if they have a cart i halve it because of the fun they're having:)
  11. sobore
    • Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    10% - 15%, except for those places where they bring you a glass and you get your own refills. They tend to never appear again.
  12. if the server was a student and booked award tickets on the side, i'd probably give him a really good tip:)
    anabolism, Jimgotkp and NYBanker like this.
  13. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

    I tend to tip less as at a buffet than for full table service. Maybe a dollar per person at the table. I tip 15 to 20% for full table service.
    anabolism and BuckleandBoots like this.
  14. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Jimgotkp likes this.
  15. Jimgotkp
    • Original Member

    Jimgotkp Gold Member

    Time to move to S. Hills! :p :D
  16. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

    If the only thing they do is clear dishes, then it is usually around $2.00 per person. If they bring drinks I will tip a bit more. I certainly don't tip the same as a full serve restaurant as I don't receive or expect the same level of service.
  17. ella
    • Original Member

    ella Silver Member

    I usually tip 10-15% for buffet service. If all they do is remove dishes, I'll tip in the 10% range. If they're good about keeping water and iced tea glasses filled, they'll receive more. If it's a really expensive buffet - well, I'll choose somewhere else. Buffets are usually less appealing to me than full-service, and I will do buffets mostly when I'm in a hurry.
  18. wombat18
    • Original Member

    wombat18 Silver Member

    I think buffets are really poor hospitality, and I generally have very little interaction with the servers. So, by definition, there's less service. I don't feel very comfortable with the servers at buffets, and its hard to feel like they have taken care of me.
  19. anabolism
    • Original Member

    anabolism Gold Member

    It depends on the level of service, but I tend to tip $2-$3 at a buffet. I don't get into percentages as much as buffets because you can get into silly states such as 15% at a $12 buffet would be $1.80. If the service is basic, I'll just leave $2-3 regardless if the buffet is $12 or $24.

    If the server brought me anything special (such at a breakfast buffet where I might ask for blueberries, or something like that) I'll tip more.

    At overseas hotels where the buffet is comped I'll ask for a charge form so I can leave a tip that's charged to my folio. It saves me having to get local currency and allows me to get points for the tip.

    Of course, tipping itself is a terrible aspect of the U.S. culture. It allows employers to avoid paying decent wages or benefits, hides the true cost of the service, makes the server's livelihood dependent on the whims of random strangers, forces people to become knowledgable about arcane aspects of each country's culture, is open to all sorts of abuse, and so forth.
  20. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    10% unless the service is spectacular. For smaller amounts, at least $2.
  21. spesalvi

    spesalvi Gold Member

    between 10-15%, depends on how fast they refill/clear dirty dishes
  22. canucklehead
    • Original Member

    canucklehead Gold Member

    well, the good ones do have sneeze guards! :D
  23. buschoi
    • Original Member

    buschoi Gold Member

    I tip between 10-15%. Of course there are exceptions. Good service = more.
  24. Boraxo

    Boraxo Silver Member

    Maybe $2-3 per person. On $10 that is easily 20%+ but would do the same even at more expensive Vegas buffet. No need to base on total bill in these places - would you tip 75c on a $5 buffet? That would be insulting. A few $$ on table is always appreciated.

    I tend to be more generous with cheaper establishments, sometimes leave $10 for a diner meal. But the opposite for really expensive places, where the waiters are overpaid, at least here in SF.
  25. anabolism
    • Original Member

    anabolism Gold Member

    I agree with tipping at a buffet as a set dollar amount within a range (typically $2-4 depending on service) as I agree that percentages gets silly at buffets. However, for normal waiter (not a buffet) restaurants I don't try to guess how much the wait staff are paid but instead do tip as a percentage (typically 15-20%). I don't know how much the wait staff are paid or how many people split tips (e.g., bus people, food runners).
    autolycus likes this.

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