As restaurants across SA gradually reopen or return to full service, there has been a great deal of discussion about tipping etiquette moving forward, particularly considering the challenging economic realities in the industry, brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The origins of tipping can be traced at least as far back as the Roman Empire. Wealthy Americans brought tipping to the US from Europe in the 1850s, so that they could show off their knowledge of European customs. And the rest is history.
As South Africans, we all know the basics of tipping etiquette – or do we?
The standard rule of thumb or etiquette for tipping is to leave 10 to 15% for service you consider to be "average," according to reports, and 20% if the service you received was above average. If you feel the service was outstanding, then you can feel free to leave even more.
With the food and beverage industry being one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, restaurant workers noticed something unusual when restaurants reopened – bigger tips. Customers going above and beyond when tipping, sometimes giving tips that rocket past 20%, and into 200% territory and beyond, has become a new trend. If you think you're a good tipper, just wait until you see these big tips from generous people.
Last week, a customer left a R6 000 tip at Simply Asia, a restaurant based in Durbanville, in the Western Cape, to be shared among staff.
The incident has created a stir on the internet, after it was shared on the Facebook page of the restaurant.
According to Simply Asia’s group general manager Enzo Cocca, the family are regular patrons at the restaurant and asked their waitress for recommendations for meals.
They ordered two six-piece combo platters, fried rice roasted chilli with ground cashews, roasted chilli paste and cashew nut noodles, tom yum soup, brinjal stir-fry, and a Coke.
The family consisted of two parents and their children.
Cocca said the company is extremely appreciative and grateful for the family’s kind gesture.
“This has already motivated our staff to work harder and stay positive, especially in these tough, troubling times,” Cocca said.
He said the only request the customer had was to have the tip evenly distributed.
Earlier this year, another anonymous customer left a R1 300 tip for a worker named Sidu Hlengwa, at Panarottis, in Amanzimtoti, in Durban.
Hlengwa’s waitressing job at the restaurant was a temporary solution, after finishing her teaching degree. But little did she know that her excellent service would be rewarded by an anonymous diner.
Taking to Facebook group #ImStaying, her sister Alungile alerted online users to the spirit of ubuntu, after a customer left a R1 340 tip for her sister – after their bill came to just under R660.
In October 2020, we also reported about a patron that left a R4 000 tip at a Cape Town restaurant for charity. A Massimo's diner stopped in for dinner and his bill was R415. But instead of leaving a 10% tip, he made a R4 000 contribution to the restaurant’s “Pay It Forward” campaign, which assisted people of the Hout Bay area and organisations in need.
Another incident, where a big tip was left, recently happened at DC Coffee Co, a coffee shop based in Fourways, in Johannesburg. The coffee shop was tipped with R6 700 by the Xpertek Contact company directors.
In a Facebook post, DC Coffee Co narrated how it was just a normal day, and R6 700 was surprisingly gifted to them.
“The only difference with this order was the additional R6 700 to their bill, as a gift to us!!! Whaaaaaaaaat!!! Yes, you heard right! The gift was to show us that we’re not alone, have people that care for us and believe in what we’re doing and, most importantly, want to help lessen the blow that this lockdown has had on a businesses – like ourselves – in the hospitality industry. We had no words and still can’t find any, but thank you,” they wrote.