QUESTION: We picked up a carry-out order from our favorite Mexican restaurant last night. The waitress put it in a sack for us and took our money. What is tipping protocol for that service? I added a couple of dollars to the bill as a tip, but I was really not sure what to do.
CALLIE'S ANSWER: I usually tip a couple dollars as well when I am picking up a to-go order. They did not serve you as much if you were at eating at the restaurant, so I think it is a fair amount.
LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: I always wonder about that, too. What I usually do is tip a little, less than 20 percent, in order to recognize that it takes some effort and time away from seated customers to package it up for you. My colleague, Heather Warlick, who at one time was a server, agreed. She noted that often the host or hostess packages up that food, and they are paid regular wages; tips aren't calculated as part of their salaries as they are with waiters. A waiter also can be assigned the duty of packaging up to-go orders. It's nice to acknowledge the effort it takes to get you ready to go, but I don't think it has to be the same as you would pay if you sat in the restaurant.
HELEN'S ANSWER: When I pick up food from a local restaurant, I usually add a couple of dollars for the person who is taking the time from waiting tables and making other tips to help me by getting my order together. If it is a take-out place only, I usually add the change to the tip jar which is somehow always sitting there.