Question of the Day: How Much Do You Tip Carside-to-Go?

Posted on 23. May, 2006 by in Saving & Investing

Most of the time I let my wife decide how much the tip should be. Having worked as a waitress for a few months she knows how hard those waiters and waitresses work and how they depend on their tip. In addition, I’ve always been taught to tip the standard amount as a minimum and then tip more if the service was especially good – i.e. never use the tip as “punishment” (this just makes the server upset and doesn’t inspire them to do better. Instead, speak to the manager about what can be improved in the future).

However, this weekend I ran to Chili’s to pick up some food as part of their Carside-to-Go program. There are many traditional restaurants that are offering this service and I find myself taking advantage of them more and more – so naturally the question of tipping comes up. On the receipt that I sign there’s always a space for tip, but how much do you tip a carside-to-go server?

One perspective is that they don’t do very much other than throw your food in a bag and bring it to your car – a whole 5 minutes of work. The other view is that they are still paid the same meager minimum wage the other servers are so they are depending on those tips to make decent money.

So, how much should you tip your carside-to-go server?

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33 Responses to “Question of the Day: How Much Do You Tip Carside-to-Go?”

  1. AJ

    23. May, 2006

    Good question. I suppose they are still providing a service and making a nice dinner “out” easier for you and the kids. On the other hand, do you tip any other take out restaurant when you go and pick it up, like chinese? I sure don’t. They made the food just like the people at McDonald’s and I sure don’t tip them. One time at Mimi’s however, we saw the server pour the soup, package the muffins, and put it all together so we tipped her 10% I believe. So to answer the question, I suppose 10% would be good if you know they put a lot of effort into it. Definately not the 15-20% had you stayed to eat.

  2. Kandace

    23. May, 2006

    Something to remember also is that tips are shared throughout the restaurant; typically, waitresses tip out cooks. And, quite a bit of work still goes into cooking and packaging a to-go order. I’d agree with the 10% tip (at least). And yes, I also tip at to-go Chinese :).

  3. Brooks

    01. Jul, 2006

    as a former carside to go emplyoee at applebees we do a lot more than you think for one there is only one to-go person on at one time we get your dressings put lids on your food and make sure everything is perfect for you. we expect 10-15% we work hard so you can enjoy your food

  4. Lorrie

    12. Sep, 2006

    I always tip at least 20%, that’s the standard in the U.S. I can’t believe anyone would leave nothing when ‘the service is horrible’. How bad could it be for crying out loud? Did you never have a bad day. I’d feel sorry for you if you had to rely on tips for your livelihood and some jerk stiffed you because you didn’t perform up to their expectations. I am not a waitress but I have had friends who are and ‘stiffing’ a waitress is crude.

  5. John

    21. Jul, 2007

    Definitely tip carside. I used to work carside in a restaurant. We do a LOT more work than you think. We have to take your order and ring it in, put lids and bag all of it. and get all the condinments and such. All this is done, but you can have as many as 6-7 orders do all in about 30 minutes. It can be extremely stressful since you only have one chance to get it right becuase people don’t want to drive back.

    Oh and if you don’t tip, we end up making less than minimum wage since our hourly is less than minimum wage.

  6. Demono

    19. Dec, 2007

    “Oh and if you don’t tip, we end up making less than minimum wage since our hourly is less than minimum wage.”

    I believe the law states that if you are paid based on the expectation of getting tips, the tips plus your wages have to equal at LEAST minimum wage per hour. If you make less because you didn’t get much in tips, then your employer is required to make up the difference.

  7. Shannon

    08. Jan, 2008

    sometimes restaurants don’t have enought employees to schedule a carside person or none of the serevers will pick up a carside shift because everyone knows its rare to recieve a decent tip working carside, so therefore bartenders and/or servers will have to continue with their job and also do some carside togo on top of everthing. A carside person is supposed to take every phone call the restaurant gets, take the orders and deal with people calling just to complain, put the order in, package it all up, (togo silverware, dressings, bagging), watch for cars to pull up while still trying to keep up with all the phone calls and getting ready orders. . . . just to get tipped less, so that the carside consumers can be satisfied??? I would never tip 10% to any restaurant employee. I think that would just be selfish and if you think otherwise you should just stay home and cook your own food.

  8. kathryn

    27. Feb, 2008

    ok first off. to anyone who thinks your to-go person just stands in one station and smiles when you walk through the door, you need to get your head out of your ass. We are an elite group of people who rush to answer your phone calls, talk over loud servers and customers screaming. We listen to you yell at your children, and put us on hold while you take another phone call, even though we have people wating on us, and the other lines ringing. we rush back to the kitchen to make sure your food is ready. We pour your dressings into the containers and double check to make sure the kitchen staff got everything right. we yell at the kitchen staff if they messed up. We dont just put food in a damn bag. We have to actually “prepare” your food. Even though must of us get paid higher we still do alot of work. Actually most servers hate doing to-go work. (You do more work). Oh and I dont get a break…. I have to answer the damn phone… you know for to-go orders, serving calls to talk to other people, people asking if we are hiring, wives and husbands calling for each other. and such. Your server ACTUALLY gets a BREAK. I DONT. I have to hear the gripes of other employees for them having to hear the phone, while im in the back looking for more lids and other things, because you sir/maam need 3 things of honey mustard in your dressing, hmmm. So the NEXT time you think about NOT tiping that to-go person who probably does ALOT more work think about this- If you were at a table, your server is more likely doing the following- Smoking, serving other tables, or talking to other serves. Well when you do to-go. that person is doing alot more than a server. (yes on Occassion we do have a “down” times…. but we still have to answer the phone and deal with people on the phone- we are basically secretaries for the resturaunt as well)

    BTW. If you dont tip me I dont take it as a sign of your order being wrong… or that your upset with me… MOST people actually tell me. but when you DO…. dont leave me 2 bucks for a 30 dollar order. I take that as your being CHEAP.

  9. Kurt

    23. Jan, 2009

    Yes, Carside people should recieve tips based on how nice and friendly they were THE SAME WAY YOU WOULD TIP A SERVER. They do equal work as servers (sometimes more because there’s only 1 carside person for every order that comes in while there is about 7 servers for the restaurant) 10% is nice but 15% is expected

  10. Kurt

    23. Jan, 2009

    Yes, Carside people should recieve tips based on how nice and friendly they were THE SAME WAY YOU WOULD TIP A SERVER. They do equal work as servers (sometimes more because there’s only 1 carside person for every order that comes in while there is about 7 servers for the restaurant) 10% is nice but 15% is expected

  11. Ricky

    05. Feb, 2009

    Yes, please tip. I’m a to-go server at Applebees and I can tell you exactly what I do. First, I clock in, next I stock my carside station with everything you’d need for to go lids, cups, condemnets, ect. After that I line the rounds, you know the things you get for pick and pair as well as for the trios. All this, as well anticipating an order. After I’ve completed my opening work I have several things to do. Not only do I get my own food ready I do it for all of the servers. I don’t know how it works at other places but, that’s what I do. I also run food to tables, take complaints over the phone, tell people when we are open, wehen we close, oh I forgot to mention take your food out to your car. It takes a lot more work than fast food, trust me I’ve done that too. So please tip, anything is better than nothing.

  12. Paul H.

    07. Jun, 2009

    That’s just silly. There’s no way that you should tip someone who hands you a bag the same as someone who comes to your table an average of 5-6 times and take first orders, follow up orders, and handles problems. Come on guys. For the effort they put in they could probably handle 30 handoffs an hour. On a 10 dollar bill (very conservative) your telling people to tip $2, that’s $60/hr for unskilled food handling. They need to make to make a living but those tips are crazy.

    Pay them a reasonable wage for what they’re doing.

  13. josh

    29. Jul, 2009

    As far as credentials go, I have 4.5 years of experience in a restaurant and have done everything one can think of… cook, bus, host, run food, carside, serve, bartend, write schedules, etc. I have also worked from the typical fast food all the way up to suit coat/tux restaurants. At the restaurant I am currently at, I am the host, server, and carside trainer. First thing i tell my carside trainees…you may get tips, but never count on it, i will teach you how to do the best possible job, but its never up to you, its always up to the customer. Therefore, for all of you out there… you heard it, its up to YOU!
    Bussing… grunt work, hosting… people bitch, but its still easy(organization), serving.. get a routine, line cooks.. be fast and efficent, carside…. you must be accurate and servants.
    At the restaurant i am currently at, carside workers carry pagers, when there is a call, they take care of them, in the meantime, instead of food runners, the carside person runs food, helps servers, seats people, bus tables, basically everything. They get paid $6.50, a little under minimum wage. They are dependant upon tips to receive that minimum. Most weekdays, we can expect only 4-5 orders for carryout, while the restaurant goes on a 30min wait. My reccomendation is start off with 10%. If they suck, give them that, if not, raise it to $15. If you are doing a large-party order or anything above $100, tip $20. It is alot harder to organize and make sure everything is prepared correctly in a small amount of time with only one person doing it.

  14. Patience

    13. Sep, 2009

    I tend to agree with Paul. Tip carside to go employees but it is really not fair that they get as much for their “efforts” as the normal waiter/waitress who serves you refills, asks you if need anything, gets you more condiments, brings you fresh bread, returns your order if needed and replaces it with something more suitable (you hope), offers you dessert, serves your food in the normal order, etc. Regarding Applebys (since several of you referred to it) I recently ordered 4 items including a salad. I walked into the restaurant to place the order and stayed nearby until the order was prepared and handed to me. In this particular Applebys the folks taking the orders were absolutely not preparing anything. They were manning the phones and taking the orders of the walk in customers. I must say my person was very upbeat which I appreciated. You are sort of encouraged to settled up before you get your order. I saw the tip line on the receipt, yet the order taker brought it to my attention as well and said I could put it on my card. I must say I was a little uncomfortable with the inference. had already decided not to put it on my card and pay a cash tip instead. I paid 10% in cash and wrote on my receipt, tipped in cash. About 10 minutes later the “order taker” mentioned the person who was packaging my food would be out shortly. I hope the “order taker” shared the tip with the person who actually ensured I got my order. My salad left a lot to be desired as I literally had about a cup of greens for this full sized $10 salad. I only bring this up to say, if I had been seated and eating at one of the restaurant’s tables, I would have been able to clearly see the issue, send it back, receive an apology (sometimes even from management) and received something closer to what I should have gotten. 3 things: Check your order, yes take everything out of the carefully packaged bag, open it up and check it ; Don;t itp until you do; don’t tip the same thing as you would someone who waits on you for an hour or more. It is just not the same effort and therefore not fair. I would still feel the same way if I had allowed the person to bring it out to my car. I would likely tip a little extra for inclement weather. So that’s my 10%!

  15. Cameron

    27. Nov, 2009

    To the idiot that mentioned make then minimum wage, you will never make less than minimum. Your employer will make up the difference if you don’t make tips.

    I’ve worked minimum wage jobs that I wasn’t allowed to make tips, but I did everything these car-side to go people do. I’m not going to tip for putting lids on my food. I’m not going to tip for you putting food in my box. I’m not going to tip for you putting forks and ketchup in my bag.

    If you receive $0 in tips, you will make the same as many others who do not rely on tips. This isn’t a problem with the consumer, its a problem with the employer. They just want to get out of paying their employees so the system of tipping to replace the wage came about. If you are all so upset about the tips, complain to your employer who gets to use you as slave labor because the consumers will pick up the bill directly. Doesn’t anyone see something wrong with that?

    Tipping should be extra. You did something above and beyond, here’s a tip. That doesn’t work today because employers expect you to be tipped for doing your average job. If pressure was put on these large chain restaurants, maybe something would be done about it.

  16. Amy

    02. Jan, 2010

    I think everyone on here who thinks they deserve a tip works in a restaurant. People what you do is part of your job. The poster who told us that they clock in and prepare lids and condiments…hello that is YOUR JOB. I’m sorry you don’t get paid well. That is your job’s problem. Carside service is no different than fast food. Do you tip at McDonalds, or Taco Bell. NO. They too clock-in, take your order, stock product, and put lids on your food. Why should I tip someone I only see see once once when they bring me my food? I get why we tip inside at a table because they fill drinks and WAIT on you and your needs. To all the carside people I feel sorry for you if you EXPECT a tip. Talk to your work because they need to increase your pay, don’t expect a tip for doing a fast food job or in that matter doing your JOB.

  17. Justine

    06. Mar, 2010

    Okay just to clarify something what was said… yes it sucks when someone doesn’t tip you when you are waiting tables or working to go, and yes that is especially true because the wages for servers is around two dollars and some change an hour, however if the server does not claim at least minimum wage in tips per hours worked (including the wages they receive) in a week the business is required to make up the amount. So every server will get at least minimum wage in a week, whether or not they receive that much in tips.

  18. Chris

    10. Mar, 2010

    I am currently a server and the carside person at applebees. Carside is harder and more stressful than serving. Yes, “Paul H” we could take 60 orders in a hour but I average 55 orders working 6 days a week or 30 hours. Thus making us depend on what little money that people guests leave us. Live a week in our shoes and maybe you wouldn’t be inconsiderate. For all of the people that do tip 10-15% thank you and remember we appreciate alot!

  19. Jason

    06. May, 2010

    I usually tip around 10%, give or take. However, if I spend a lot of time waiting, I have no problem tipping less or not at all.

  20. carside server

    10. Jun, 2010

    I am a carside to go server. I have been one for about a year nowand I can tell you it isn’t easy. I understand that many people don’t realize that you should tip us however we do do a lot. How Kathryn described her job is perfect. Thats my typical day on carside. The carside servers usually need more menu knowledge than an actual server does and they have to know how to work in a kitchen and put the foods together. The food rarely comes fully prepared there are little things that we add that if you didn’t get you would probably complain about. If you didn’t get your dressings for your salad or your bleu cheese for your wings you would probably call back pretty angry. We make sure your food also comes out to perfection for example if your fries need to be well done and your burger needs to be MR with the bacon and lettuce on the side we make sure that happens. Also carside is responsible for running food to tables. We then have to ask if you need anything else and if you want another soda or someextra dressing your server doesnt get that we do. And I’m sorry to tell you patience, paul h, amy and Cameron but we do more work than a server does. And trust me i have waited on cars before. I took an order outside in the rain yesterday. I came in soaked and then packed the customer’s foodand then was tipped nothing. To anyone who doesn’t tip us because they believe we are fast food and are the same as McDonalds, please tell me does mcdonalds actually walk out to the car to see you? And would you ever even think of not tipping your server? Well then we deserve the same respect. Especially because we aren’t given tip share from the servers or the bar. So please if you get carside to go leave something bc we do a lot for you with making sure your food is perfect, so help us out.

  21. Kayla

    12. Aug, 2010

    I have previously worked as a carside to go employee…

    We worked harder than the regular waitors in the restaurant…we were responsible for taking an order over the phone which was often crackly and required a lot of repeating…
    place the order into the computer…
    putting each meal together in the kitchen (other than the cooking of course)….memorizing all of the sides there are to an order, putting each side, each topping into a separate container…while watching the in-house waitors only pick up the already prepared for them order….and take it to a table…same as with the drinks.
    we often had to take orders out in the snow, rain, blistering hot…you name it.

    Of course, I am not trying to downplay the difficulty of being an in-house waitor…I understand that they do a lot of work, especially when balancing several tables at a time… I am simply stating my personal experience…

    This may have been due to poor management…maybe the waitors around me were just lazy and not very efficient….and then again maybe i’m tooting my own horn a little…

    I recommend tipping a carside to go waitor just as much as you would tip your waitor inside the restaurant.

  22. Applebuddy anonymous

    13. Feb, 2011

    I have to say I am not surprised how many people have responded to this post. There are those that have done restaurant work who feel that tipping on to-gos is necessary, and then there are those who have no experience in the food industry and feel that tipping on to-gos is not something that should be done. My response, as a seasoned restaurant employee, is that tipping on to-go orders is essential. It is hard for some people to understand all of the work that goes into preparing a togo order but let me set the record straight. Servers take your orders, bring you drinks/refills, clean up after you once you have left, make sure the food you received is satisfactory, and get you anything you may need while dining. They do A LOT of work!! On the other hand, so does a carside employee. They take your order, timing it to fit your schedule sometimes, ring in your order and read it back to you to ensure that there are no errors, offer you things like A1, Heinz 57, ketchup, mustard, or extra dressings while you are on the phone because they want to make sure you have everything you want for your food once you get home. They also put the orders together. This DOES NOT simply consist of putting lids on things! They must make sure the food is prepared to your specifications, such as no egg on your salad because you are allergic, but add extra onions and tomatoes. Then they have to add garnishes and the dressings/condiments that you requested. They finish bagging the order making sure that everything is in the bags that needs to be. And yes sometimes a mistake is made by a carside employee and something gets forgotten. We are only human! Mistakes happen, and where I work we more than take care of you when something like this happens. While preparing everyones orders they must also be listening for the phone, running food out to cars, and handling guests that come inside to place/pick up an order. Not to mention, carside employees are usually expected to be helping out the servers throughout the night. Needless to say it can be a very stressful job. I have been doing carside for a few years and over the years I have developed regulars that understand the hard work I put into making their order perfect. I learn what they want and make sure each time they visit they get everything they need so that when they get home, pop the movie in, and get there food out everything will be there! I didn’t mean to write a book on the subject, but this topic is one that I feel needs clarification. Tip to-go people!! They are taking care of you in ways you don’t know!

  23. Curious

    26. Feb, 2011

    Based on a **few** posts here, some people sound like very rude, bitter waiters. If you acted as rude as you make yourselves sound in your posts when I came to your restaurant, I sure as hell wouldn’t tip you very well. Just because you “work hard all day” doesn’t mean that you automatically deserve a tip from me. If I come in as a customer, I deserve high quality service and good food. If you don’t act polite and get the order right, you don;t deserve a good tip. You have to work hard for every customer, just like I wouldn’t get paid if I messed up one of my clients at work.

  24. Sharon

    14. Jul, 2011

    We make much less than minimum wage because we are expected to get tips, although I rarely do. So small checks and barely any tips leave me unable to pay rent.
    We don’t just answer the phone and bring the food out. I would say I’m the hardest worker in the restaurant, including the managers.
    I expo, run food, help servers, do the servers’ side work, seat guests, sprint to answer the phone, help the cooks, prepare meals, bag meals, bus tables, and then take the food out.
    It’s not an easy job, and it feels shitty to come home with 5 bucks at the end of the night.
    We should be tipped just as servers are tipped.

  25. josh

    03. Oct, 2011

    do you tip at subway, the gas station cashier, the grocery store cashier, stock boy, the oil change guy at the quick lube & all the other jobs that pay a mim wage if you think that you deserve more for your job talk to you boss about it the restaurant system is broken charge more for the food so you can pay your employees what they are worth & a tip can be ”tip” for outstanding service if you want too! not because you have to because the cost of the meal does not include delivery to your table or you car btw I do tip car-side

  26. kennywhite

    12. Jan, 2012

    I definitely think people should be a little bit more courteous about tipping in the restaurant business.
    For all you guys who do not have much insight about the restaurant business let me give you some. Most people working in a restaurant (ex:) Olive garden, Applebee’s, Red Robbin, Chilis etc… only get paid 8 dollars an hour. most like a good 98% only work four hours maybe six if your luck… So people in the restaurant business definitely rely on tips. It is NOT EXPECTED to tip but its more of a courteous decision… For example the cooks cook the food but servers and carside prepare it and garnish it… All the food has to be out in a specific time. For ex: for servering your only suppose to have no more than 4 tables of four people but sometimes guest do not understand that. so servers end up taking more tables so than everything gets backed up… drinks are suppose be take in 1 min. since the time the guest got sat. and 3 min for the drinks to come out… same goes for the food there is a specific time for everything… it doesnt seem that hard but when you have nine tables in a short amount of time it can be overwhelming. Servers try there hardest to accomdate your every needs. So everyone imagine youre working your but off and you try your best to make everything come out on time… and you find out that that table that you worked your but off didnt leave you anything no tip at all… now your left to bus your table and there mess… Its frustrating especially when you have bills to pay…Anyways carside works the same way. The cooks cook it carside prepares it, garnishies it, packages it. They bring it out to your car they are trying to accomdate you like if you where eating there. For ex: say you order a steak and you get home and you realize you forgot to ask for a1 sauce and you dont have any at home well your not at a restaurant so cant ask a server for it. but instead you get home and you realize they packaged some for you anyways. carside works just as hard and most people dont tip. Imagine if that was you… most people think they just run the food to the car but you really think a job consist of that? i want to know what job is that easy where you just stand around until the food is ready to be ran? so next time you guys order to go or go out to eat consider tipping or try to understand why they havent refilled your drink look around do they seem busy? give them the benefit of the doubt. And here is a little tip if you guys are never sure how much to tip you always multiply the tax by 2 and thats the tips theyre suppose to get but if you want to leave more lets say they did an outstanding job and you really like them then you multiply the tax by 2 and you add to dollars. I hope this information was helpful (:

  27. Darian

    14. Mar, 2012

    As an applebees carside to go employee let me tell you all we do is not just “walk to a car and hand people bags”. At applebee’s there is a person called an expediter or “expo” who looks over every plate over for proper doneness of meats,proper garnish,proper condiments,correct tempature accurate portion size,and the right plate presentation before the food goes out to the dining room.When you are an expo you put meals together one at a time and give them to servers.When you are a Carside employee you become the expo for all to go orders while still answering the phone, doing prep cooking for the line and running outside to deliver orders. To go customers are often the least patient because they drove to the resturaunt and dont want to sit in their car and if we miss the small window of that customers patience guess what? No tip for me.I’m sorry that I did not get to your car in 15 seconds while putting together 15+ orders and taking multiple hang up calls and legitimate orders on the phone. To say we should not be tipped is crazy if I made at least 2 dollars on those 15 orders I would be $30 richer since I make below minimum wage. I am not picky about tips a tip is a tip I dont even ask for 10-15% minumum but to say we do nothing and deserve such is ignorant. I know times are hard and not everyone can tip, but if you roll up in a mercedes dressed in a suit laughing at the monkey who does no deserve a tip…. You are just cruel.

  28. Joe

    31. Jan, 2015

    People who don’t tip are the scum of the earth. Minimum wage is lowered significantly (typically halted) for restaurant employees because it is expected for those employees to be tipped. you tip them on how well they did their job, of course, but you should tip them none the less. most servers pay a percentage of their checks each night for the kitchen staff as well, so when you don’t tip, that server has to PAY to serve YOU.

  29. Amy

    08. Apr, 2015

    But why do I have to tip the carside server but not the Chinese food cashier?

  30. Jon

    15. May, 2015

    Wow, I’m shocked at the responses from the Carside to go workers here. You think you do the same if not more work than an actual server? So you guys call after you’ve delivered the food to check and see how everything came out? You drive to houses to refill drinks? You clean up? I think not. “We do a lot more than you think, we put the lids on, and even put the food in the bag” WOW, all that work? No way! Applebees should just pay you guys a fixed rate. I still do tip 15% but they most certainly do NOT do as much work as an actual server.

  31. Kim K

    16. May, 2015

    Having been in the food service business, it’s nice to be appreciated and tipped for services. Car side or otherwise pls tip those who take the time to prepare, present and or deliver your food to you!!

  32. sgray

    16. May, 2015

    I order curbside frequently due to my job. I hate to be negative, but from a customers viewpoint, the priority is low. I always have to get out and go get the food. There is no place to stand inside with out being in the way. I always have to ask for condiments, sauces, napkins, plastic ware to eat with, etc. Usually the order is wrong. This is Applebees that I am speaking off. It is so frustrating to get your food and it be wrong and dont have the option to return it.

  33. Annette

    29. Jun, 2015

    You always Tip a service well done…You are either a CHEAP person or a GIVING person. I for one am Giving I always tip for a job well done.

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