clock menu more-arrow no yes
Still life of a tip jar for our Weekend cover story on restaurant gratuities in Washington, DC.
Eight percent of Bay Area diners say they don’t tip on takeout, and six percent refuse to tip their delivery drivers
Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Bay Area Diners Up Tips For Sit-Down Service, Takeout and Delivery Not So Much

A (perhaps surprising) number of people refuse to tip delivery drivers at all

When we asked how your tipping habits had changed during the pandemic, you answered: 61 percent of the thousands of people who responded to our recent poll say that the coronavirus crisis has prompted them to tip restaurant workers more than they did before COVID-19 changed all our lives. But that largesse only goes so far, if Eater SF readers are any indication, with hundreds of poll respondents admitting then when it comes to takeout or delivery, many don’t tip at all.

Obviously, in ideal circumstances, tipping wouldn’t be a thing at all, as everyone working in or for restaurants and delivery services would make a living wage. That food industry workers must rely on a fickle system based on customer whim as they risk their health to deliver our dinner is infuriating, especially now that they must also act as temperature-taker, mask cop, and more, while Yelp users complain that worker compliance with state or local health orders leaves reviewers “anxious” or “uncomfortable.”

After seven months in the pandemic, 1089 Bay Area diners told Eater SF that they had increased the amount they tip to reflect the challenges the industry faces, while 639 (36 percent) say they they’re tipping the same amount that they did before the pandemic began. Forty diners (2 percent) say that the tight times mean they have to tip less than they did before, and 25 diners told us they they don’t tip on meals, at all.

Takeout is still king for almost a quarter of Bay Area diners

When we asked about tipping for sit-down meals (indoors or out), 1030 diners said that they‘re tipping between 20-25 percent. (In recent years, 20 percent has been set as the industry standard.) On the other end of the spectrum, 10 diners admitted that they don’t tip when they dine-in at restaurants. Out of the 2886 people who responded to the sit-down question, 651 (23 percent) said that they weren’t dining at restaurants — indoors or out — at all.

The Bay Area is (mostly) showing up for takeout tipping

This 2015 report from Priceonomics does a nice job of illustrating the pre-pandemic confusion diners had regarding tips for takeout, telling the tale of multi-millionaire NFL star Drew Brees, whose cancellation over a $3 tip on a $74.41 check was reversed after he tweeted that the paltry sum was because his order was to go.

Unlike Brees, 1093 Bay Area diners (48 percent) tip between 11-20 percent on takeout. The poll shows that 430 (19 percent) throw down between 21-25 percent, and 145 drop even more. And 175 of the Bay Area diners who responded appear to be Brees sympathizers, as they say they never tip on takeout, at all. Those folks might want to note that outlets as disparate as Food & Wine and the AARP say that tipping on takeout is ethically recommended during these troubled times.

Most (but not all) Bay Area diners are making an effort to tip restaurants when they order delivery

Forty-eight percent of Bay Area diners say that they tack on a tip for the restaurant when they order delivery (most apps allow this during the ordering process), and of that, 549 say they tip at between 11-20 percent. However, of the 2000 people polled, 548 Bay Area diners say that don’t order delivery at all.

When it comes to delivery drivers, tipping rates are more consistent: 48 percent of Bay Area diners say they tip their delivery drivers between 11-20 percent for their service. Of the 1570 people who responded, 101 (6 percent) say they don’t tip delivery drivers, at all.

This Farm-to-Table Florist Builds Dramatic Arrangements for SF’s Best Restaurants

A.M. Intel

This Legal Home Kitchen in Alameda Is Firing Up the Backyard Tri-Tip Party

SF Bars Are Downright Dripping With Plants

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater San Francisco newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world