try not to eat alone

When you eat by yourself, you’re going to get worse service than if you ate with other people. The reason is that not much is at stake for a waiter. Slow food or a bad attitude may cause you to tip 10% instead of 15% but the loss of this 5% on a 20 dollar tab (a pretty nice restaurant) is $1. On the other hand, big parties put a lot more at stake in real terms since the bill is larger.

One critical but plausible assumption for this argument is that big parties determine the tip collectively. In these situation, one mistake effects the entire bill. Someone says “my soup was cold, the tip should only be 10%” and everyone, assuming they agree that this was the waiter’s fault, contributes to make the tipp come out to 10%. However, some parties may just calculate the tip relative to their own meal. The people who got good service will throw in 15%, and those who got bad service will add a smaller amount of money to the tip pool. In these situations, everyone has only as much influence as if everyone were eating alone.


2 Responses to “try not to eat alone”

  1. 1 Carrie McCumber
    September 20, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I see where you’re coming from, but I disagree, too. I actually enjoy “one-tops.” I usually can talk to them more than another table that is just talking amongst themselves, and I try to make them feel welcome (because it can’t be that great of a feeling to eat alone.). I can see why some people would be reluctant to give great service to one person, but a lot of the servers I know try to give the same service to every table. Some of the best tips (percentage-wise) were from one-tops, because I paid a lot of attention to them.

    • 2 questionbeggar
      September 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm

      In percentage terms, it’s very true that a one top is likely to be generous. Most people understand they are taking up a table and your time for very little gain. Still, I think what’s important to the calculation of most waiters is the total gain. Though the one top may be tipping 30%, they still aren’t impacting your night as much as the four-top across the floor.

      Also, you’re right that professionalism and kindheartedness play a role in the calculations of most waiters. However, my point was more that when things get busy, and there are genuine conflicts for a waiter’s time, more often than not, these tables are going to get left behind.

      Nice to hear from another server.

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