Tipping at restaurants has always been a hot button issue across the country, including Austin. This is especially now during the novel coronavirus pandemic, as dining out is different right now, where restaurants are open with limited dine-in services while making sure to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines, some ramp up takeout and delivery efforts, and others being forced to close altogether, unable to weather the economic impacts of the health crisis.
Service workers rely on tips and, right now, they’re risking their own healths to work and earn income while serving diners, which increases their own chances of catching the virus and being forced to enforce mask and social distancing requirements. This is while many workers have been laid off or furloughed because restaurants have closed or slimmed their operations to takeout services.
The current tipped minimum wage in Texas is $2.13, which means workers rely on tips from diners to pay their rent, bills, and expenses. The typical standard for tipping is 20 percent of the check.
There have been several Austin restaurants that have done away with tipping altogether — such as L’Oca d’Oro, Thai Fresh, Tso Chinese Delivery, Colleen’s Kitchen, and Black Star Co-op — in favor of offering their workers livable wages through adding surcharges to total bills or spreading the costs by increasing menu prices.
But the practice of tipping is tricky in itself, as it can work as expressions of racism, sexism, and worker exploitation, furthering income gaps. (Famously, New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, who had led the no-tipping service model in 2015, nixed the policy this summer because of the precarious status of the restaurant industry.)
Now that the U.S. is more than eight months into the pandemic, Eater Austin wants to know: What is your tipping standard? Are you tipping more now than before? Do you tip differently for takeout and dine-in services?
Share your takes through the survey below (if you cannot see the embedded survey, please visit the direct link here). Please submit your answers before Tuesday, October 27.