A Taste of History



SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded spacecraft, launches

Chef Thomas Keller replaces tipping in his restaurant with a fixed service charge

Tipping Point

The practice of tipping can be traced back to the coffeehouses of sixteenth-century Europe, and perhaps even further. English sources believe that the word "tip" was originally medieval street talk for "hand it over." Many historians believe that the first tips were gold that was thrown to peasants by feudal lords riding horses, as payment for safe passage. However, tipping did not become widespread in America until the middle of the nineteenth century.

For many years, the standard tip in America was 10%. This rose to 15% in the 1970s, and today, many foodservice workers receive a tip of 20% or more for a job well done. Internationally, tipping practices are varied. In some countries, the tip amount is automatically added to the check. In other countries, it is considered rude to tip a server. For some larger parties, a tip in the form of a service charge is added to the total of the check.

History Application

Write a dialogue between two people discussing the pros and cons of tipping and the effects it has on service employees.

NCSS V B Culture Analyze group and institutional influences on people, events, and elements of culture in both historical and contemporary settings.

Computer-Calculated Checks

Most foodservice operations use computers that perform every calculation. The server puts the order into the computer. That information then appears on the computerized check. Computer-calculated checks are convenient and reliable. Totals are accurate, and each item's price, the subtotal, the tax, and the grand total all appear on the check.

Check Errors

Errors are always possible. Errors are fairly simple to correct if you catch them early enough. If you make an error, simply draw a line through the error and begin again. Most foodservice operations use numbered checks. If a computerized check is printed before the error is noticed, or if a written check is beyond fixing, ask your supervisor what to do.

Present the Check

Prepare the customer check once you are certain the customer has finished ordering. A good server will anticipate, or predict, the request for the check. Make sure that all items and the check total are accurate. The check should be legible and clean.

Before you present the check, all unnecessary plates, glasses, and utensils should have been cleared from the table. Give the check to the host of the party, or place it in the center of the table. When the server collects the payment, the check is placed on a check tray, a small plate, or in a check folder. Check back often to see if payment is ready.


In many foodservice operations, the customers pay the server directly. Be sensitive to whether customers seem to want to sit and talk or pay the bill immediately. If the customer pays with cash, be sure that the correct payment is received. Never ask customers if they want change. Always give them the change and thank them for their business.

After you present the check, return to the table within five minutes, or when you see the customer has placed money or a credit card with the bill. Take the money to the cash register. Be sure the change is correct before you return it to the table. Place the money to the left of the person who paid the bill. Thank your customers and invite them to return.

Credit Cards

Many customers pay by credit card. Credit cards are easier to carry than cash, and they provide customers with an expense record.

Most restaurants today use an electronic credit card machine that may be part of a point-of-sale computer system. The card will need to be swiped through the machine correctly. The correct total must be entered into the computer. It should be double-checked before the total is transmitted.

Use these steps: • Check the expiration date and the customer's signature.

• Make sure the customer signs the credit slip. Compare the signatures.

• Immediately return the credit card to the correct customer.

• If the card is declined, return it to the customer and ask for another form of payment.

Service Tips

Customers show their appreciation for good service by tipping. A tip is usually based on a percentage of the check amount, depending on the type of establishment. A good tipping guide is a minimum of 15% of the total of the check. Outstanding service at a restaurant might call for a tip of 20% to 30% of the check total. Although the federal government sets a minimum wage, servers are often paid less than the minimum wage by employers because money from tips is expected to make up the difference.

\ Describe How do you prepare a hand-calculated check?

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