Fair warning - I may be a rube. I just want to know!
Back story: I cook at home, for many reasons, most significant of which is the budget (that thing we call fiscal responsibility). When we do eat out, it is almost exclusively while on the road for a family necessity ( elderly relatives who are far flung and need care or chores). These road-trip meals are always in various small-town diners, where we can get good food at a good price (remember: budget), and not have to spend our dining-out money on fast food. A nice lunch of soup and sandwich and splitting a piece of pie is, IMHO, better than a Big Mac any day.
Anyway, these lunches generally come to $20.00 or less - sometimes much less. My Hub and I then face the tipping issue. Now, I am not a stingy tipper (having had many friends in the business), usually going from 20 to 25 percent, which on a $20.00 meal is $4-5.00. The Hub insists that $10.00 should be the minimum tip, even though that can be over 50% of the tab. His reasoning is that it takes as many trips/steps for the server to bring our twenty dollar meal as it would a fifty dollar meal, and that that’s just what it costs. I am of the mind that a 25% tip is adequate, and we should leave it at that.
Mind you, these are not restaurants in which we are regulars or are courting special treatment/expectations or looking to reward long-term good service; we’re just passing through. Nor are we eating in establishments where an average meal costs X and we are eking by on 1/4X (like going to a steakhouse and ordering only the side salad and toast).
My question: is there a minimum amount I should be leaving for service in situations like this? (BTW, Hub has no problem with “only” 20% tips when it’s a meal that costs $80.00...but that's another issue <g>.) Any servers out there that want to weigh in, especially if you work in a place where one would expect a soup-n-sandwich lunch at these prices? Does my $20 dollar, 30-45 minute meal really need a $10.00 tip? Any diners with thoughts?
Like I said, I may indeed be a rube when it comes to this. I know, I know - I could be packing sandwiches in the car and sidestepping this, but hey, we all need to eat out once in a while. Likewise, I know it’s “only” five bucks (say) difference, and I might find this amount between searching my couch cushions and the pants’ pockets while doing laundry. It still bothers me a bit, since all those extra dollars can add up to a lot.
Please don’t flame me as “not being generous.” I just want to know if there really *is* a minimum tip that servers expect. And I want to have a peaceful lunch next time I have to road-trip to my dad’s or in-laws’ for some reason. And I’ll leave the 50% tip if I have to.