I read in The New York Times, that some NYC restaurants are now big on the automatic gratuity added to your check, just like in Europe. I did a little googling and was amazed at the attention which is dedicated to this subject matter!  I thought I would share my tip grading system with the readership of this blog. As a former bartender as well as a former delivery boy in NYC, who lived for tips (and I did well), my standards are high and may even seem draconian or Midas-like.

Rule #1: Mom used to say “if you can’t afford to tip, then you shouldn’t go out to eat”.

Rule #2: Never tip unless the server and/or the establishment deserve it. The word ‘Tips’ stands for “To improve personal service” Not “To increase Personal Spending”!

Claude’s GUTS Tip Guide:

I generally start out at 20% as a standard, but have been known to give as much as 25% to 50% for outstanding service.  In one unique case I gave a very pregnant waitress 100% because she promised to name her baby Max.(inside joke).

Tip Deductions:
5% if the server doesn’t pay attention to my table and I have to keep waving my arms, make eye contact or send telepathic smoke signals.
5% for interrupting a conversation rudely. Why can’t they ever wait 15 seconds before telling me about  tonight’s special?
10% for a dirty bathroom (my personal pet peeve and I usually leave if I didn’t order yet).

Health Rule 101: If the Bathroom is dirty, then the kitchen is probably worse!

5% to 10% for dirty silverware and water/wine glasses.
5% to 10% for cold or lousy food.
Note: Yes, I know that these items are not always under the waiter’s control, but how else do I communicate my displeasure in such a direct fashion?

5% when the server takes the payment folder off of the table and asks “change from this”! (especially when I only gave him my Amex Card) This relatively new expression is annoying and rude. When did a tip become an entitlement? BTW, I still don’t get why there is a tip jar at The Starbucks counter or any self-serve establishment. How dumb are people to leave tips for BASIC SERVICE?

Side-story: I recently had a bartender ask if I wanted change from a $20.00 bill. The tab was $10.50 and he thought he was entitled to an almost 100% tip!  Normally, I would leave $1 to $3, but this time I left Nada! Not cheap, just smart!

5% to 15% if I have to send my cold and/or undercooked food back to the kitchen.
15% if the server has dirty hands, an unkempt appearance, more that 5 visible piercings in his left nostril, hubcaps in his earlobes or a tattoo that says ‘OJ is Innocent or a picture of Sponge Bob and not Popeye
20% If the waiter tells me that the chef will not cook my steak well done.
20% if there is foreign matter, glass or bugs in my food (really happened)!

Tip Additions:
Add 5 to 10% for good manners. What ever happened to holding  the chairs for Grandma about to sit down at a table? How about saying ‘hello’?  When did restaurants stop serving Ladies, Seniors and Children first or for that matter not taking the lady’s order first?
Add 5% for Speed.  I love it when my drink and the bread arrive quickly.
Add 5% to 10% for personality/pleasantry. How hard is it to inject some personality?
Add 10% for special orders, without the attitude. Would you mind asking the chef if……………
Add $20.00 to $100.00 for holding/returning or calling me about the jacket, cell phone or my intact wallet that I left on the table.