Tipping in Downtown Kent

Tipping in Downtown Kent

Traditionally, patrons in the United States are expected to tip at places where they are waited on, such as at beauty salons and sit-down restaurants. However, there is a growing trend of tipping at places not previously seen before.

Around 48% of purchases at fast food restaurants, as well as coffee shops, included a tip during the final quarter of 2022, up 11% according to a CNN article using data released from Toast, a restaurant management software company. 

Vickie Gage sits outside of Last Exit Books and Coffee House in Kent, Ohio,

68-year-old Vickie Gage thinks that tipping is more prevalent than she remembers it. “Tipping has become more of a big deal. It used to be that you would tip for ‘excess service.’ For above-and-beyond service… It has become more prevalent in places I did not see before, like coffee shops or car washes,” she said.

Last Exit Books is a business in Kent, Ohio that sells books, coffee and vinyl records.

Downtown is filled with restaurants and shops. At many of these stores, there is an option to tip.

Around 48% of purchases at fast food restaurants, as well as coffee shops, included a tip during the final quarter of 2022, up 11% according to a CNN article using data released from Toast, a restaurant management software company. 

This comes as point-of-sale machines and kiosks, like Toast, increasingly have an option to leave a tip while paying, whether that be at sit-down restaurants or at fast-service restaurants. They have options for tipping from 15%-25%, automatically calculating the amount for the patron, making it easier than ever to leave a tip.

The option to tip on the pay screen could push people to tip more. “The little kiosks go up to 25% sometimes! The kiosks that have the suggested tips on it, kind of guilt you into tipping,” Gage said.

Jim Williams sits outside of Last Exit Books enjoying a black coffee.

“There’s certain people you’re supposed to tip… Something where I get some kind of service, I try to tip 20%,” Gage said. “If they’re simply handing me a cup of coffee, that is different than somebody bringing you food, refilling your cup of coffee–when you’re getting more service,” Williams said.

Even though they both agree they tip for workers who give them more service and wait on them, they both still tipped the barista that just served them. They each bought a coffee for $1, and tipped the barista a quarter. Each of them tipped 25%. The average tip for perfect service in the U.S. is 20%, according to Discover, a financial services company.

Some say that the line of who does and does not get a tip is becoming hard to define. “If I go into Last Exit [Books and Coffee House] and buy a coffee, I will tip the barista. But if I go into that same place and buy a book, I won’t tip. Even though they’re essentially doing the same amount of work. Why am I tipping one and not the other?” Williams said. 

Cassady Troyer-Schnippel is a manager and barista at Last Exit Books.

Barista and manager at Last Exit Books and Coffee House, Cassady Troyer-Schnippel, has worked there almost three years. She is able to keep her job at the shop because of the tips she gets as a barista. “We are a small business. A lot of our staff makes minimum wage. I’m a manager, so I do make a little bit more. I wouldn’t be able to keep this job without the tips. Because the tips are what is keeping me afloat on being able to pay bills,” Troyer-Schnippel said.

She says that working as a barista changed her perspective on tipping. “Working this job made me realize how important tips are,” Troyer-Schnippel said. “At other places, when I see people tipping only 10%, 5%, it breaks my heart, because that is how people live. It’s part of people’s income. So, when people don’t tip, it makes things a little bit harder.”

For quick-service employees, an added tip on top of wages could be a huge help. In Ohio, non-tipped employees make $10.10 an hour from their employer. Tipped employees make $5.05 an hour from their employer, but must make at least $5.05 an hour from tips to get to $10.10 an hour. Ohio’s minimum wage increased at the start of 2023 from $9.30 for non-tipped employees and $4.65 to $5.05 for tipped employees.

Down the street from Last Exit Books and Coffee House, is Euro Gyro, a Mediterranean restaurant and bar. 

At Euro Gyro, Cory Gamer says that he tipped because he was waited on at this location. “If someone is waiting on me for lunch or dinner, I always try to tip pretty well… at least 20%. You try to take care of them for taking care of you,” Gamer said.

Cory Gamer has his lunch at Euro Gyro, a business in Kent, Ohio.

However, at quick-service restaurants, he usually does not tip, even when given the option to. “The option to tip is there for most places now… At places like Dunkin’ Donuts, I don’t think that is a tip-worthy place,” he said.

Scribbles Coffee Company has a tip jar on the counter. Like Last Exit Books and Coffee House, they have a kiosk that gives options for 15%, 20% and 25% and a custom tip while paying for a coffee or baked goods. 

Poppy Henrikson works at Scribbles Coffee Company as a barista.

Barista Poppy Henrikson,has worked at Scribbles Coffee Company for a little over two years. She says that the amount of tips she gets really varies. ”Most people put their extra change into the jar and round out a dollar or something. For an hour, I usually get about $5. But it always varies,” Henrikson said.

Usually, the typical tip is 20%. However, some say the standard was 10% decades ago. “10% used to be the typical tip… 20-30 years ago. Gradually, it started to creep up. Now, it’s 20%,” Last Exit Books and Coffee House patron, Jim Williams said. “Some might say that tipping keeps up with inflation. ‘Inflation goes up, so the amount you’re tipping goes up.’ But, on the other hand, the price of food goes up too, so automatically the tip should go up, without an increase in percent.”

Overall, there seems to be confusion around increases in having the option to tip, who decides to tip, and how much.

“I don’t know who decides how much the tip is. I don’t know who decides who gets tipped and who does not,” Williams said.

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