Ask the Critic: Should I tip for takeout?

A question I've heard several times: Should I tip for takeout?

Some see the cooks just setting a few boxes on the counter and argue no. Others take into account the time and effort a host or server made to interrupt another task and take the order, assemble, pack, and ring you up for it, and say yes. I'm in the latter camp, and here's why.

Since you don't know how much effort went into putting your order together, I always assume it was enough to be worth a couple bucks. Besides, restaurants have to pay for takeout containers, and the biodegradable ones that many eco-conscious restaurants are using--Birchwood Cafe, La Chaya, Red Stag, and Common Roots, among others--are not cheap. (Okay, not that tip jar proceeds pay for containers, but it's just in the spirit of showing the restaurant that you appreciate the service they provide. I am waiting for the day that a Twin Cities restaurant follows the lead of the Angry Trout in Grand Marais and uses returnable plastic takeout containers...)

As for delivery--by foot, bike, car, or caped crusader--I tip as I would in a restaurant. I'd recommend a minimum of 15 percent of the check, more if the weather is crappy and the delivery person had to drag him or herself through it so you didn't have to.

Where do you stand on tipping for takeout? Leave a comment below.

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