- In Canada, meals under $10 a person. Usually smallish Asian, Pizza or Fish and Chips type of restaurants.
- Sit down, grab your own menu from the table.
- Waiter shows up to take the order (sometimes the waiter is also the same person as the cook and the cashier, sometimes they are different people)
- Waiter rarely shows up again - usually because the meals are over relatively quickly
- Waiter brings food and drinks (sometimes water is self-serve from a big jug that you can grab or already at the table)
- When done eating, leave dishes and walk to the cashier which is sometimes close to the exit and sometimes close to the kitchen.
If the bill for the group is be $36 to $39, I usually just let the cashier round it up to $40 (I pay cash). Most of the time they seem thankful but I'm not good at reading facial expressions, so I'm not sure if they really are happy with the tip or not. I seem to get a big range anywhere from very happy to very disappointed. I tried to figure out if there is correlation between the look and the amount I leave and I can't see any clear relationship. Strangely enough at one restaurant where I go frequently, once I got a happy look and the next time I got a disappointed look for what I figured was the same tip. It's really confusing.
In regular restaurants things are easy I usually use credit card and punch in 15 to 20%. In fast food restaurants where there is no waiter I don't tip at all (into the little jar). The one I'm having trouble with is this hybrid style of restaurant.
Since it's kind of a mix between fast food and slow food. I figure the tip should be the same way (somewhere between 0% and 15%). Is it really like that? Am I over-tipping or under-tipping? Also when there are multiple people involved I feel very awkward giving a tip to the cashier and giving 0 to the waiter. Will the waiter get their share? How will the waiter know the tip came from me personally? I thought of leaving the money on the table, but again I'm not sure who will get the tip. On top of that the tables are not that well "watched" by the staff so the tip may lay there for 10 minutes and someone else can just grab it as they are passing by.
I feel like it shouldn't be that hard, am I missing some basic understanding of how all this works? So far I've been going with "that's tipping culture for you - just roll with it and when it doubt just tip extra". I'd like something clearer than that. I hate undertip, and I really hate to overtip. A formula would be great :-)