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To Tip or Not to Tip: Navigating the Etiquette of Gratuity

Paying with a Credit Card at a table with two wine glasses | To Tip Or Not To Tip | Hungry Canadian

Although America is notorious for tipping, the English were the first to use this custom. Tipping actually originated in Tudor, England and was a way for guests who stayed overnight to give money to their host's servants.

During the 18th century, coffeehouses in London started to use tipping, that is when the custom really got momentum. Patrons would place money in a jar to ensure faster service from the wait staff. It is speculated that the word "Tip" stands for "To Insure Promptitude".

We still use tipping today in coffeehouses and other places like restaurants, food trucks, and bars. Recently, tipping has expanded outside of the food and beverage industry, as some unusual businesses have turned to adding tipping to their payment terminals. For instance, fast food restaurants, take-out-only restaurants, and even some grocery stores have tip jars at the self-serve kiosks. 

The Gratuity Controversy

Normally we would associate tipping (gratuity) with a sit-down style of restaurant. Introducing tipping in fast food establishments has a lot of people wondering if the purpose of a tip has been lost in this newer trend. 

When you are at a sit-down restaurant you would most likely provide a tip to show your gratitude for the service you received. Did the wait staff tend to your table promptly and efficiently? Was the food flavourful and did it exceed your expectations? If the answer to these questions were "Yes!" then it is likely you will provide a tip and usually a good one at that.

If you go to a grocery store and do your shopping by yourself, going isle by isle and hand-picking each and every item you place in your cart and then head to the checkout, scan all of your items one by one in the self-checkout kiosk, it might be a bit infuriating to see a tip jar next to the payment terminal.

If you stand in line at Subway, and then proceed to instruct the sandwich artist on how to make a sub, you might wonder what exactly you are tipping them for at the end of your order. You basically made a sandwich using someone else hands. 

These last two examples are times when it may be inappropriate or uncomfortable to be asked for a tip. Examples like these are exactly why tipping has sparked controversy among customers. 

While I certainly feel the Subway sandwich artist followed your direction instead of creating a delicious sandwich the exact way you wanted it without your input, they are far more deserving of a tip for their consistent service and dedication to providing good customer service and satisfaction with each customer. 

A Kiosk with zero human interaction at the grocery store is 100% not deserving of a tip. Wouldn't you agree with me?

The Importance of Tipping

In Canada, most waiters/waitresses rely on tipping as a source of income as they perform their duties at work. It is unusual for a service staff member to make more than minimum wage if they are receiving tips as part of their compensation. When you go out to a restaurant consider asking the server how they manage the tips, the answer may surprise you. 

Tipping also leads to better experiences when you go out to an establishment. We know that no one loves their job all the time, but receiving a tip as a thank you for your efforts sure helps make you want to keep doing it. Imagine having a birthday party at a nice restaurant and the server is grumpy and emotionless despite your celebration. This leads to a negative experience for yourself and your party. Good service deserves good recognition.

Tipping the Kitchen Staff

In a fair amount of restaurants the tip does not just end with the wait staff, often it is also shared with the cooking staff who do not have the opportunity to make an impression on you in person. Cooks also deserve recognition for their efforts, after all, you come out to enjoy a nice meal and without a great cook, you will likely not enjoy your meal. 

In addition to making you a desirable meal, it is often up to the kitchen what it is that is offered on the menu. Depending on the restaurant each night, week, or month might have a new menu altogether. Managing a menu like this involves a lot of creativity, skill and knowledge to ensure the success of the menu and the restaurant as a whole. 

When you couple a great kitchen staff with an attentive wait staff you are sure to enjoy the dining experience. The better the experience the more inclined you may feel to tip and encourage them, would you not? 


Now that we have learned a bit more about tipping, why it is important, where it is most acceptable to be prompted to provide a tip, what is your take on tipping? 

Are you someone who never tips no matter what? Why? Tell me in a comment, send us a message on Facebook, or send us an email

Thanks for reading!

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