Yes, you should tip every time. Here's why.
Advertisement
The Tenets of Takeout
Credit: Oscar Bolton Green

Ordering takeout from a restaurant is a luxury. (There's no cooking, no dishes, and it only costs about 20 times what it costs to make it yourself!) Over the past two years, takeout orders have soared, more than doubling during the pandemic. I've been working in restaurants for over 20 years, so I know my way around a to-go order. And here's the thing: Your to-go bag isn't put together by magical elves from the Land of Styrofoam. To-go orders take real effort because once that food is shoved into the insulated bag of a delivery person, there's no going back. Orders are checked and double-checked for accuracy so we're not yelled at over the phone by someone who didn't get their extra ranch dressing and painstakingly packed so they make it to their destination intact. Here are a few takeaways for takeout to think about the next time you order.

1. Always Tip on Takeout

The Tenets of Takeout
Credit: Oscar Bolton Green

Should you tip on takeout? The short answer is yes. The long answer is YESSSSS! A server usually puts the order together, and depending on what state that server lives in, they might be making only the federal tipped minimum wage, which is $2.13 an hour. A to-go order takes priority in a restaurant. It's easy to tell table seven, "I'll be right with you," but that's not an option for a ringing telephone or a computer spitting out orders. Takeout orders deserve a tip just like you'd tip if a server filled your water glass three times and brought you extra napkins: 20% is the minimum. (And if you pick the order up yourself, the tip will go to the person who put it in the bag for you.)

2. Order Directly from the Restaurant

The Tenets of Takeout
Credit: Oscar Bolton Green

Third-party apps like DoorDash or Seamless are handy, but some of what you spend on your bacon double cheeseburger—in some cases, as much as 30%—goes to the app instead of the restaurant. Tim Chen, owner of Quaint Restaurant in Queens, explains, "There's a commission fee, delivery commission, and a processing fee." The delivery fee customers pay also goes to the app. The tip goes to the driver. Restaurant manager Carlos in Long Beach, California, who asked that we not use his last name, says: "It's not worth it. We do it because we need to stay competitive with other restaurants." If you truly want to help your struggling neighborhood bistro, order directly from the restaurant. That way, everything you spend goes back to the restaurant, and the tip will go to someone who works there.

3. Leave a Message

The Tenets of Takeout
Credit: Oscar Bolton Green

If you use an online order form for your takeout order, take a second to type in a personal message or a thank you. It can really make a difference for the server preparing your order—especially if you must use a third-party app, when the server filling up plastic ramekins with ketchup knows they aren't getting tipped for it.

4. Just Say No to Plastic Utensils.

The Tenets of Takeout
Credit: Oscar Bolton Green

Unless you really need them, ask that the restaurant to omit plastic cutlery, disposable chopsticks, and straws from your order. Americans throw away 40 billion plastic utensils each year. It's like the restaurant should just cut out the middleman and throw the sporks right into the ocean and give the straws directly to the sea turtles. If you forget to ask to leave it out or if the restaurant gives them to you anyway, use them on your next picnic or at work. They cost the restaurant a lot of money each month, so at least try to make use of them.