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How much Do You Tip in a Restaurant?

While out for a bite to eat recently at one of our local restaurants, The Harbour Restaurant, the topic of "Tipping" for service came up and a stirring conversation ensued!

Our debate was split between those who thought:
a) a tip should always be paid
b) a tip of 10% should always be paid
c) a tip for good service be paid to the server directly.

No one at our table thought a tip shouldn't be paid but a general consensus was that people here got carried away during the boom years and staff gladly accepted the generous tips proffered. Some still expect the same level of remuneration for their services. But things here in Ireland have changed.

Traditionally it was not a common practice in Ireland to tip in restaurants, until the mid 1970's when returning American-emigrated family members encouraged the practice. Tipping for service in restaurants in the rest of Europe also has only become common in recent years.

"Service Charges" in restaurants, which may be discretionary or mandatory, are often written on the menu and this is accepted as the norm although it is perfectly legal not to pay this if you feel the service was not up to standard.

In all of the kitchens that I ran over the years, I've always insisted that the kitchen staff received an equal share of the tips, as wages for young staff in the kitchen are generally not great and often the front-of-house staff are on a higher rate! (It is quite amazing how some restaurants will employ waiting-staff with no experience and pay them a better rate than some poor 3rd or 4th-year commis chef who has also been to college for two years).

The whole argument on tips takes on a slant in light of New Revenue laws which state "Where the tips are routed through the employer, PAYE/PRSI must be applied to the amount paid (including employer PRSI). If tips are received directly from patrons, there is no obligation on the employer to operate PAYE/PRSI on the amounts received. (The employees are obliged to declare the tips received in their annual return of income). In the case of credit card tips the employer must operate PAYE/PRSI on the amounts of the tips received." So it begs the question "does giving a bigger tip end up being a smaller thank-you to the staff involved?"

People in Ireland, these days, are generally more aware of their financial spend on treats and this has given rise to discount coupons, loyalty cards and websites such as where food businesses offer substantial discounts to encourage new customers. Many restaurants have removed the obligatory "Service Charge of 10% will be added to your Bill" and instead have replaced it with a "Tip Jar" on the pay-station. All this, to hold on to their regulars, gain new customers and give as much value as they can afford to give.

Our menu in The Harbour stated: "No Service Charge Included - We believe that our customers should have the option to reward good service personally". I think this is the right way to put it! We ended up paying a tip of 10% of the total bill, which I would normally do if the meal was good and the service was up to the same standard.

An often controversial topic, "Leaving a Tip" is a bigger debate than I am ready for here at the moment, but out of curiosity I have put together a quick POLL to find out how much Irish people are today prepared to pay, as a gratuity to the staff that serve you in our restaurants.

Please Click your choice of Answer below or leave your own.

Leave a Comment if you wish!


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