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South Florida restaurant owner, experts share suggestions on tipping etiquette

To tip or not to tip for service: Experts weigh in
To tip or not to tip for service: Experts weigh in 03:20

MIAMI — Since the pandemic it seems more and more services from ride shares to grocery delivery all ask customers for tips.

Once reserved for dine-in, now fast-casual restaurants have iPad screens asking to pick an option. What's a patron to do and how much is too little, or do you even have to tip at all? 

Just in time for the Super Bowl LVIII airing on CBS this Sunday, CBS News Miami is looking at tipping culture and we want to know what you think. When you dine out, when is it appropriate to tip?

Posted by CBS Miami on Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Experts and even a restaurant owner say don't let the iPad screen guilt you — it's okay to tap "no" and they offer their tips on when and why you should give a little more.

"If you're out at let's say a bagel spot and someone hands you a bagel you don't need to tip for that," said Zakiyyah Shakir-Benjamin the CEO of Peerless Etiquette.

She added, "Think about it like this: If you saw a tip jar and you didn't want to leave a tip in the tip jar, it's fine."

When tipping, the options vary from 10%, 15%, 20% and sometimes even more. Shakir Benjamin says consumers have other options too.

"If it's a small Uber Eats package that isn't too large, I would say $2, $5 but $5 is the max," she said.

Starex Smith co-owns two South Florida restaurants. At Smith and Webster, diners will see a service charge in addition to gratuity.

Smith explains saying, "We charge the service charge because that's an inescapable charge based on the service that we provide at the elevation that we would like to remain. The tip is something that the guest will leave based off their service that they receive from their server."

Smith says at his restaurant, servers get paid a livable wage some of that service fee goes towards it. He says diners should feel comfortable asking questions about what's on their bill. "Unfortunately, a lot of our servers at restaurants at this level they are not as forthcoming as they should be, with what the service charge actually covers many times we train our staff to explain that as your server I do receive a portion of your service charge."

When it comes to fast-casual restaurants with short interactions Shakir-Benjamin offers this tip.

"If you feel generous that day, don't feel pressured or bullied to do," she said. "If someone is turning that screen around, you can say no tip."

Smith added, "I think this new sort of reality of just asking people for additional money simply because you did your job, I think that's a bit problematic and almost toxic."

They say tipping isn't just for restaurants. Fifteen to 20% should also be considered when getting any beauty or spa treatments and don't forget luggage handlers and room service when dining during hotel stays. Our etiquette expert says a daily tip of about five dollars should also be left for housekeeping.

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