Do You Tip When You Pick Up Food at a Restaurant?

If you routinely get food delivered to your home or pick it up from a restaurant, you may be thinking whether tipping is appropriate. After all, you are still receiving a service even though you are not getting full service as you would if you were dining in. So, do you leave a tip when you leave a restaurant with your food?

Restaurant owner working only with take away orders

There isn’t a simple yes or no to the question. Customers are not compelled to tip the same amount for takeout as they would for dining in, according to Menufy by HungerRush.

However, if you are able to, tipping between 5 and 10% of the total bill—before any reductions or special offers—can assist cash-strapped waiters.

Tipping up to 20% is a possibility if you had great service or the establishment went above and beyond.

On the other side, according to a study from USA Today, tipping for takeaway orders has increased since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Every little amount helps, as many eateries are having financial difficulties.

Even a modest tip of a dollar or two can express your gratitude to the employees and support the restaurant during lean times.

In the end, it’s up to you whether or not to leave a tip, but it’s crucial to take the situation into account and express appreciation when appropriate.

Understanding Tipping Culture

The American service industry relies heavily on tips, and most services, including dining in a restaurant, are expected to be tipped.

Young woman preparing takeaway food inside plastic free restaurant

However, the tradition of tipping is not always evident when it comes to picking up meals from a restaurant.

You will learn when and how much to tip when picking up meals at a restaurant as we examine the tipping customs in this section.

Tipping Etiquette for Takeout Orders

Although it is not required, tipping is usually appreciated when ordering takeout.

For takeaway orders, tips often range from 10% to 20% of the entire amount, depending on the quality of the service received.

If you have outstanding service, you might want to think about leaving a larger tip.

Why Tip for Takeout Orders?

You might be perplexed as to why you should leave a tip when you pick up meals from a restaurant since there is no wait staff at your table.

It is crucial to keep in mind that the restaurant personnel still made an effort to prepare your food, package it, and confirm that your order was accurate.

Furthermore, tipping on takeout orders can assist in assisting the restaurant personnel in trying times like the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Not to Tip for Takeout Orders

You may not always be expected to provide a gratuity when ordering takeout. For instance, tipping is not anticipated if you are picking up meals from a fast-food joint or a coffee shop.

However, you might want to think about leaving a small gratuity to express your gratitude if you have a complicated order or outstanding service.

In conclusion, tipping is not required but always appreciated when ordering takeout. Depending on the quality of the service, tips often range from 10% to 20% of the entire amount.

Keep in mind that tips on takeaway orders can assist in providing assistance to the restaurant employees during trying circumstances.

Tipping for Pickup Orders

Tipping at restaurants when you order takeout can be a little confusing. Some individuals hold the opinion that because takeout orders do not include table service, tips are not required.

Close up of hand holding payment terminal

Others counter that because the worker still prepared and packaged your food for you, tipping is still appropriate.

Tipping for pickup orders is optional, but generally speaking, you should leave between 10% and 20% of the entire price.

But bear in mind that this is only a suggestion, and your level of pleasure with the service will ultimately determine how much you tip.

You might want to think about leaving a larger tip if the staff went above and beyond to accommodate your request or was especially helpful.

On the other hand, you can decide not to tip at all if the service was subpar or your order was wrong.

The size of your order is another aspect to take into account when determining whether or not to tip for pickup orders.

It is normal to tip more than you would for a small individual order when picking up a large catering order.

This is because it probably took extra time and effort for the personnel to prepare your order.

It is ultimately up to you whether or not you choose to leave a tip on pickup orders. Make sure to tip in cash if you do, as many restaurants do not allow servers to accept credit card tips.

Factors Influencing Tipping Decisions

There are a few things that can affect your decision on how much to tip for takeout orders.

Close up waitress hand give food box to deliverly

Here are a few things to think about:

Size of the Order

How much you choose to tip may depend on the size of your takeout order.

It’s possible that you won’t feel the need to tip at all if you’re only picking up a little order, such as a coffee and croissant.

However, it’s more typical to leave a tip if you’re picking up a sizable order for a group of people.

Complexity of the Order

The complexity of your order is another thing to take into account. There is less effort for the restaurant workers if you order a straightforward sandwich without any alterations.

On the other hand, the kitchen staff will have to spend extra time making your order if you order a bespoke pizza with several toppings. It would be more appropriate to tip in this situation.

Quality of Service

Even if you’re only picking up your food, chances are you’ve already had some sort of interaction with the restaurant personnel.

For instance, you might have placed your order over the phone or requested menu recommendations.

It’s always a kind gesture to give a tip to express your gratitude if you received good service.

Restaurant Policy

Finally, it’s important to confirm the restaurant’s tipping guidelines before ordering takeaway.

For takeout orders, some establishments automatically include a gratuity, while others let the client decide.

If the restaurant includes a gratuity, you are not required to leave more money on the table unless you particularly enjoyed the service.

Overall, deciding how much to tip for takeout meals is a personal choice that is influenced by a number of variables.

You can decide whether or not to leave a tip by taking into account the amount and complexity of your order, the level of service you experienced, and the restaurant’s policy.

Effects of Not Tipping

When you pick up food from a restaurant, not leaving a tip might have a number of detrimental implications.

fast food carry send paper box pick up take home

Here are a few examples:

1. It can hurt the restaurant staff

The wait staff that prepared and delivered your meal for you does not get paid for their labor when you do not leave a tip.

Servers who rely on gratuities as a large amount of their income may be particularly affected by this. You are essentially ripping money out of their pockets if you don’t tip.

2. It can lead to poor service

If you have a bad reputation for not tipping, it can affect future service.

If servers and other restaurant workers are aware that they won’t be paid for their efforts, they might not be as enthusiastic to assist you or offer you the finest service.

3. It can damage your reputation

Leaving a bad impression in the restaurant business is another possibility.

If you don’t tip, word will get out among the staff and other patrons, which may negatively affect your future dining experiences at other establishments.

4. It can hurt the restaurant’s bottom line

The establishment loses out on prospective sales when you don’t leave a tip. Small, locally owned eateries that depend on every dollar to survive can be particularly harmed by this.

Not tipping could exacerbate the restaurant’s financial problems if they are having trouble making ends meet.

In conclusion, skipping the tip when picking up meals at a restaurant can have a number of unfavorable consequences.

It could harm the restaurant’s workers, result in subpar service, undermine your reputation, and have a negative financial impact.

To express your gratitude for the restaurant staff’s hard work, don’t forget to tip fairly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Barista Serves Order to a Food Delivery Courier

Do you tip for takeout orders?

Tipping for takeout orders is not mandatory, but it is a nice gesture. If the restaurant has provided you with excellent service, you may want to show your appreciation by leaving a tip. However, if you are on a tight budget or simply do not feel like tipping, it is perfectly acceptable not to do so.

How much should you tip for takeout orders?

The amount you should tip for takeout orders can vary depending on the restaurant and the level of service you received. A general rule of thumb is to tip between 10% and 20% of the total bill. However, if you had a large or complicated order, you may want to tip more to show your appreciation.

Should you tip for curbside pickup?

If the restaurant provides curbside pickup service, it is appropriate to tip the server who brings your food to your car. The amount you should tip can vary, but a good guideline is to tip between $2 and $5 per order.

Do you tip for fast food takeout orders?

Tipping for fast food takeout orders is not expected, but it is always appreciated. If you received excellent service, you may want to leave a small tip to show your appreciation. However, if you are on a tight budget, it is perfectly acceptable not to tip.

Should you tip for delivery orders?

Yes, it is customary to tip for delivery orders. The amount you should tip can vary, but a good guideline is to tip between 10% and 20% of the total bill. If the delivery driver had to navigate bad weather or traffic, you may want to tip more to show your appreciation.

food delivery man hand wear glove


The practice of leaving tips on takeout orders is optional. In most cases, leaving a tip is not required when you leave food at a restaurant.

To thank the restaurant personnel who cooked your food, however, is a lovely gesture.

It is advised to leave a tip of between 10 and 20 percent of the entire price if you had great service or a sizable order.

On the other hand, a small tip of a few dollars would be appropriate if you merely ordered a little lunch or did not receive any special treatment.

It is significant to remember that regional and restaurant-specific tipping practices may exist.

For takeout orders, some restaurants might add a service fee, while others might forbid servers from accepting gratuities. Always call ahead to confirm to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion.

You are ultimately responsible for deciding how much to tip for takeaway orders. Go ahead and give a tip if you think the restaurant employees deserved one for their hard work.

However, it is also okay if you are unable to tip or do not feel comfortable doing so.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.