What’s it worth?

Tipping the server is often an afterthought of the dining process, and few can agree on the right way to do it, especially when college students are notorious for being cheap. To make tipping less of a nail-biting experience, UNA students offered helpful tips on tipping the server.

Most servers report work for less than minimum wages, commonly $2.13 per hour, relying on tips for the rest of the wage they take home.

According to Alabama law, the employer is required to compensate the server if he or she does not make it to the $7.25 per hour minimum wage mark.

UNA sophomore Bonita HuiHui serves at Stanfield’s Steakhouse in Rogersville. Before that, she held a job at Walmart, earning a set wage.

She prefers working for tips and has become a favorite among her customers.

“It’s more about your personality and how much you truly care for your customers,” she said. “If you don’t care for your customers, they kind of notice.”

Junior Stephanie Fitzgerald serves at Ruby Tuesday’s in Muscle Shoals.

Last week, she served four pastors whose check totaled $83. After lingering past closing time, they left her a tip of 17 cents. Instances like these are fairly common, she said.                                    

“The fact that I work two jobs and go to school and served them as they treated me like a dog and talked about God’s grace at the same time was just too ironic,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s expected that you pay 15 percent for average service and 20 for good service, and I guess they just didn’t realize that, or they were just too rude to care.”

Students are willing to tip servers more with a better “attitude”.

“It starts with attitude,” said senior culinary major Tyler Layne, who works as sous chef at Sweet Magnolia Café.  

“A lot of people don’t realize, in the service business, that your job there is to serve people. You’re not there to enjoy yourself—you’re there as a job. If they keep a good attitude and they’re happy to serve you, then I usually tip pretty well.”

Jonathan Oliphant, a junior at UNA, said the server’s personality is a far more important factor than service quality on the amount he tips.

“I’ve been to Legends a handful of times, and every time I’ve felt like I had a relationship with the server,” Oliphant said. “I don’t know who they are, I’ve never met them before, but I feel like they’re my friends by the way they interact. It’s like you’re being waited on by your friends.”

Fitzgerald said getting to know her guests and including that she is a student generally reaps better tips.

“The more that you can get people to relate to you, the more they’ll tip you,” Fitzgerald said. “If they don’t know anything about you, don’t know your name, in their mind, you’re not really a person. You’re just bringing them their food.”

Some students tip better when they find their server attractive.

“It definitely doesn’t hurt if the waiter’s hot,” said sophomore Kaitlyn Wilson.

Students often build relationships with servers they see often.

“I tip at places that I frequent a lot or for servers that I know well,” said freshman Ashlyn Brown, adding that her tip depends on service quality, food preparation time and attentiveness.

There are times where people do not tip their server because they did not meet expectations.

“I once had a server who was a complete jerk to everybody in my group,” Layne said. “He was being really rude to us. So when I got the bill, I wrote ‘no tip’ on the ticket and felt pretty good about it.”