Survey: Bay Area the worst at tipping in the nation

September 21, 2011 9:15:59 PM PDT
The new Zagat restaurant guide found Bay Area diners are the worst tippers in the nation. On average, we tip 18.6 percent -- which may seem like a good amount, but it's tied for lowest with Seattle.

Former waiter Eric Franco, eating lunch at Tommy's Joynt, says if San Francisco is filled with bad tippers, he's certainly not one of them.

"I would say 25 percent in San Francisco and 20 percent in San Jose," Franco said. "It's expensive, the meters are expensive, everything is more expensive, so obviously it requires more money for everything."

But the high cost of living is exactly the reason one veteran server at Mel's Drive-in thinks San Francisco got low marks for tipping.

"When the economy sunk I would say it went down to about 10 percent or even less for awhile, but it seems to have picked up," Marion Wickstrom said.

But it's not better everywhere. At the Ferry Building, where coffee costs $3 and most ordering takes place at the counter, cashiers and baristas say that little jar of dollar bills is looking emptier these days.

"I think because the prices are higher here, people tend to not tip as well as they might somewhere where the prices are lower," barista Zoe Kessler said.

But even in a terrible economy a trip to San Francisco's oldest restaurant reveals there's one group of people who always tip well.

"When we get the convention people they're better than everybody else, because they're on a business account, so they're generous with their, with their boss' money I guess," Tadich Grill waiter Anton Weidemeyer said.

Unless, that is, they're from Europe.

"Some Europeans nothing, or some of them 15 percent," Weidemeyer said.

"In Europe, the tip is often included, so you have to show on the tab that they have to tip," Wickstrom said.

Back over at Tommy's Joynt, one waitress says it's all a matter of perspective.

"They've got $10 in their pocket and they want to have a good sandwich and a drink, if they're willing to give you that last dollar, than that's a really good tip no matter what," waitress Irene Takashima said.

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