Entrepreneurship Fast Food

Sonic Adds Tipping Option To App, A Rarity In Fast Food

Photo: NYC Russ // Shutterstock

When it comes to when or when not to tip at restaurants, there’s plenty up for discussion. One area where the assumed custom is unclear is whether we tip fast food workers.

This debate has continued to grow during the pandemic, when options like curbside pickup have become more common at chains across the country. Some spots are known for having no-tipping policies, while others don’t make it exactly clear.

Sonic Drive-In just added some clarity when it comes to their restaurants, however, announcing that the option to tip will be available across all of their restaurants.

According to Sonic’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lori Abou Habib, 1,000 Sonic locations already have the ability to tip, which consumers can do at the end of an order on the app or mobile system. Plans are in motion to expand this to the rest of Sonic’s stores (over 3,400) later this year.

Habib mentioned that the decision to add tipping was based purely on consumer feedback. It was “one of the most requested things from Sonic consumers this year,” she mentioned during a virtual event.

Considering how much eaters wanted to tip the Sonic staff, you have to wonder if the rest of fast food might start enable tipping more regularly as well, especially as curbside pickup, a rough equivalent to the drive-in model, continues to grow in popularity.

News The Katchup

Foodbeast CEO Boycotts Food Delivery Apps Amid Controversies


Quotes used in this article have been transcribed from the Foodbeast Katchup podcast episode “#87: Snoop Dogg Headlining A Noodle Festival.”

After a heated podcast discussion involving food delivery apps, and their continuous questionable practices over the years, Foodbeast CEO and The Katchup co-host Geoffrey Kutnick vowed to boycott all food delivery apps.

A lot of the conversation was centered around the recent news of food delivery apps such as Door Dash using its driver’s tips to cover a promised base pay, instead of adding on top of it, as most tipping systems usually do.

“I’m not going to use delivery service apps,” Kutnick proclaimed. “I’ll take a stand right here. I do not like what’s happening. And the only way I can contribute to ‘I don’t like that,’ is ‘Cool, I won’t use it.'”

While DoorDash CEO Tony Xu promised to make changes to its pay model, the controversy might still haunt them for a little while, as a class action lawsuit has been filed against DoorDash, with it reading:

“DoorDash financed its growth by taking tips paid by its users and meant for hard-working delivery workers. Mr. Arkin and all other class members that used DoorDash should recover, at a minimum, all tips that were never paid to the delivery workers.”

While DoorDash has been the company under fire of late, the other digital food delivery services don’t exactly get a pass, as the podcast episode also delved into a past lawsuit accusing Postmates’ delivering In-N-Out without the restaurant’s consent, Grubhub’s alleged tactic of creating tens of thousands of restaurant websites without consent, and how all these apps prey on cash-strapped people with promises of high payouts.

Only time will tell where the future of these delivery services goes from here. From the possibility of self-driving cars taking over to threats of workers unionizing, it’s an interesting wrinkle in the industry that is having its bumps at the moment.

Culture Features Restaurants

Should We Be Tipping Restaurants For Takeout Orders?

I’ve always wondered about tipping on a takeout order.

Whenever I dine out, I always try to stick to 15 percent. If the service is kick-ass, I’ll go with 20 percent. For delivery, I always tip — resonating back to my pizza boy days. The problem, however, lies in takeout.

For call-in, online, and to-go orders, where I have to drive out and pick up the food I find myself in a grey zone. Tipping for me has always been about the quality of the restaurant dining experience or an employee braving traffic to bring me food. When I go pick up a pizza, my human interaction becomes drastically limited leaving me to wonder if I need to tip at all.

Frankly, I still do tip for take out  — although not as high as 15 percent. It’s more like a couple bucks here and there just so that line besides the word “TIP” isn’t blank. Call it Catholic guilt, I guess.

Curious to see if any of my co-workers faced this dilemma, I asked around the office to see if anyone would be willing to share their experiences when it came to takeout orders.


Here’s what the FOODBEAST crew had to say on the matter of takeout tipping:


For me, it depends, to be honest. If I’ve ordered pickup from a phone or over an app, no, I don’t tip, because there’s basically no interaction and I’m just paying for the food. If I’m going to lunch at a nearby restaurant and bringing it back to the office, I may tip, more likely to if the server/cashier is helpful or polite or kind in some way or another that makes the experience better than just calling an order in.


Yes I tip because I don’t wanna be an asshole. Even if it’s a buck for a small order, I tip. If it’s for Postmates or DoorDash or whatever, I sometimes tip. It depends on if the driver does a good job with the delivery.


I don’t feel obligated. If the point of sale asks for a tip, I’m whimsical with the amount. It doesn’t follow the 20 percent protocol.


I’m the opposite of Reach. I always tip for Postmates and DoorDash orders because the I know how complicated my complex is so it’s cool when they’re able to find my place! If I do takeout, I’ll tip if the person helping me is really nice or friendly. And I agree with Elie in that if I do tip for takeout, it’s usually not the standard 20 percent.


At least 15 percent, and if they are nice and personable 20 percent. I worked in the service industry, so I’m probably the exception.

Foodbeast conducted a poll on Twitter asking our followers how they approached takeout tipping. As you can see, a majority of people don’t feel it’s necessary to tip for takeout and if they did, it’s out of some form of guilt.

At the end of the day, however, it’s your money to do with as you please. There’s no “right” or “wrong” answer when it comes to takeout tipping, just some insight from from fellow human beings who enjoy take out.

If you do decide to switch things up and dine-in at a restaurant, don’t be like this couple.

Celebrity Grub Hit-Or-Miss Video

A Waitress Once Asked Shaq For A $4,000 Tip And He Paid It

Have you ever wondered how much celebrities tip their servers? We just got a glimpse into how generous Shaquille O’Neal is when it comes to gratuity.

Last week, the basketball legend and titular hero of the cinematic masterpiece Kazaam, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote the new Shaq statue that unveiled outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles. During the interview, Shaq revealed that he was a pretty generous tipper.

The former NBA star and current owner of a Krispy Kreme franchise said that when he went to restaurants, he would tell his servers:

The quicker I get my order, the bigger your tip will be.

At the end of the service, he’d then ask how much his server wanted as a tip. One lady, he claimed, asked for $4,000. When Kimmel asks Shaq what his response to such absurd request, Shaq simply said he paid her $4,000.

Set down your pitchforks because the gesture didn’t go without appreciation. The grateful waitress burst into tears thanking the celebrity who pretty much paid two months of her rent.

What a nice guy.

Shaq also mentioned that he would tip his valet drivers about $300 too, at least on the days he has cash on him. Man, imagine what it must be like to be the Postmates driver delivering his orders.


Drunk Dude Tips $1,000, Shamefully Asks For It Back The Next Morning

As a former server, I can tell you that I used to thrive off of drunk guests. I would do everything in my power to make sure that they had a fantastic time, all the while ignoring the people I “knew” wouldn’t tip me well, like high school couples, Middle Eastern people and postal workers. The postal workers may not be a common thing, maybe I’ve just had a randomly bad history with them.

One particularly hammered man enjoyed his time at a restaurant called Thailicious in Denver so much that he ended up leaving a $1,088 tip for his server. The server was shocked at the generosity, but had the foresight to assume that this may have been a mistake. He immediately went to his superiors, husband and wife co-owners Surachai Surabotsopon and Bee Anantatho, and explained the situation to them.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 1.01.05 PM

Husband and wife owners Surachai Surabotsopon and Bee Anantatho.

Thankfully, they had the forethought to hold onto the money for a short time, in case Drunky McTipstoomuch came crawling back, begging for his money, which is precisely what he did.

As soon as the restaurant opened the next morning, the customer was there waiting and apologizing profusely for the mistake. Anantatho felt bad for the man, so she very graciously returned the money when she certainly didn’t have to. She suspects that he thought he was leaving $1 bills instead of $100. The grateful customer then left a $40 tip for the server, which obviously isn’t a $1,000 tip, but most servers know better than to complain about a $40 tip.

I’m sure Anantatho, Surabotsopon and the rest of the staff will be seeing him again soon, since generosity and understanding like that from a restaurant deserves a lifetime of patronage from that very lucky man.



Photo Credit: The Denver Post, Moving Gal


To Tip Or Not To Tip? That Is The Question

For a long time, tipping waiters, waitresses and other service industry employees has been viewed as commonplace in the United States. We understand the social expectation of tipping, as well as that in many industries where tipping is standard, employees make very low wages and actually depend on additional sums to get by. But most of the world doesn’t work this way. In fact, many international citizens visiting America might find the concept of tipping downright strange, and similarly many Americans vacationing abroad quickly discover that tipping is weird and uncommon. But which side has it right? Here are a few points on both sides of the debate….

You Shouldn’t Tip Because…. 

The system is blatantly unfair. Tipping is entirely up to each individual customer. Using a restaurant scenario as an example, the guy before you might leave 18% for his waiter because that’s his standard practice. But maybe you’re younger and operating on a tighter budget, and it’s a fairly casual meal, and 15% sounds about right to you. Who’s to say which of you is “correct?” Is it fair to the waiter to have a portion of his income decided by the amount you feel comfortable tipping?

You don’t always know where the money’s going, anyway. Again, I’ll use the restaurant scenario. At many establishments, servers pool their tip money and divide it evenly – meaning if you leave a 20% tip for a job well done on the part of your own server, you may be providing equal reward to some person across the restaurant who was providing horrible service to another group of tables. Or consider another situation entirely. Maybe you have such a wonderful meal and experience that you want to reward the restaurant as a whole with a big tip. You know who might not see any of that money? The chef who cooked the meal, the team that planned the menu, the owner who hired the chef, etc. Often, a great experience at a service industry establishment depends on a team approach that can’t easily be rewarded with tip money.

You don’t have to. This approach may sound cynical, but by tipping for service you’re participating in a system that, as mentioned, is unfair to employees. You’re dictating the income of a server when that should be done by the owner of the restaurant, who ought to be providing a living wage. Of course, if in the short term you decide to stop tipping, all you’re accomplishing is screwing over servers within this system. Still, change doesn’t come about randomly.

You Should Tip Because….  

Servers need the money, plain and simple. It’s a sad situation, but in the U.S., most service industry workers are paid barely enough to get by, the assumption being that they can supplement small paychecks with tip money. Fair or unfair, that’s how it is right now.

It’s a classy gesture. It may seem weird to international citizens, and it may be borderline silly from an economic standpoint, but neither of those things makes the concept of tipping wrong. Ideally, the system would work both ways, with service industry professionals making adequate wages, and tipping serving more as a bonus or gesture of a job particularly well done. Either way, however, there is a personal aspect to eating out or engaging with other service industries. You speak to, make requests of, and sometimes enjoy the company of your server, and if the experience is richer because of it it’s perfectly classy to leave a tip to show your appreciation. Just because your sister’s new French boyfriend thinks it’s weird doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. In fact, if he’s bitching at you about tipping, just ignore him completely.

There’s a common argument about incentives, and it’s perfectly legitimate. Basically, if service industry employees depend on tips, they’re theoretically more likely to offer good service and to be pleasant to customers. If on the other hand their wages were all they needed, they might not feel obligated to do more than the bare minimum. Naturally that’s an unfair statement to plenty of honest employees who take pride in their work, but the basic theory definitely has something to it, fair or unfair.

Which side of the debate has it right? No idea – probably neither, completely. I still leave tips because it’s how I grew up. I enjoy the opportunity to help someone out when he or she does a particularly good job, and if I’m honest I don’t mind being able to show my displeasure when someone in a service industry is a jackass. That said, I recognize some of the inherent injustice in the system. What do you think?


This New Restaurant Will Have No Servers, Chefs Will Bring Their Meals To The Tables

People often complain about the service some waiters and waitresses provide to them in restaurants, so how can this problem be fixed? By cutting the servers out of the equation altogether, according to one restaurateur based in L.A.

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee is the owner, operator and head chef of Scratch Bar and Kitchen on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills, or at least that’s where it used to be. After shutting down that location, Lee is opening up a brand new Scratch Bar location on December 1st, 2015, in Encino, California.

The only difference between the new and old locations? The new one won’t be employing servers, but will instead have the kitchen employees (including the cooks) delivering the food to the tables themselves.

While everyone’s immediate assumption is that Lee just hates servers, the reality of it is much less spiteful and actually makes pretty good sense.

“I hate it when I go to a restaurant and someone takes my order and they don’t know the menu,” Lee said. “I wanted to have a situation where the only guy you’re talking to is someone in the kitchen cooking.”

Instead of having a new server bumbling over the ingredients of a particular dish or running back to the kitchen to dig up details after every question, the cooks will be available to give detailed information to the guests in regards to their food, providing much more thorough answers to any questions the visitors might have.

Since there won’t be any servers, effectively eliminating the need for tipping, each bill will come with an 18 percent service charge. Lee believes that this is a better way of paying his employees, claiming that he will be able to give them livable salaries now rather than simply providing them with the minimum wage.

The war against tipping is beginning to take shape. Which side are you on?

Image Source: LA Times, Zagat


Joe’s Crab Shack Just Became The First MAJOR Restaurant Chain To Ban Tipping


Last month, restauranteur Danny Meyer implemented a much talked-about “No Tipping” rule at his restaurants. Rather than leaving money for their servers, patrons would see a slight price increase in their meals and servers would be paid a higher hourly wage.

Now, in a major move, Joe’s Crab Shack has become the first major chain to implement that No Tipping policy at 18 of their major units. Restaurant Business reports that servers will see a starting pay bump of $14 an hour. While $14 is the base, servers actual wages will vary depending on their past performance.

Joe’s parent company, Ignite Restaurant Group, says that the pay increases will come from the 12 to 15 percent price elevation for menu items. According to Ignite CEO Ray Blanchette, the test began in August and have been implemented in more Joe’s Crab Shacks as recently as last Tuesday.

Blanchette says that the new wage model also fixes some wage problems at the restaurant locations. Waiters and waitresses at Joe’s are usually against having help when it comes to a large table because it means splitting tips. Now, no matter how large the party, tip sharing will not be an issue at the 18 test cities.

Joe’s will continue testing this new model through the end of the year.