ASHTABULA — When asked about tipping, Mike Morgan, co-owner of Breakwall BBQ, recounted something his grandfather told him: “You can tell a lot about people by how they treat people who have to be nice to them.”
A nationwide debate tipping was sparked this week after an video was posted to Twitter by economic news site CNBC. The video claims that tipping 15 percent before tax will save a person $400 per year.
However, it has raised concerns from people in the service industry, many of whom rely on tips for a living.
“I would say tip after tax,” Tina Newsome, a waitress at Kardohley’s in Ashtabula, said, “because I have to pay taxes.”
State minimum wage for tipped employees is $4.30 an hour, plus tips, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce. However, someone only needs to regularly receive $30 per month in tips to be defined as a tipped employee. State rules require an employer to show that employees are making minimum wage when tips and hourly compensation are combined.
Donna Beaver, who works at Dublin Down in Ashtabula, said tips of 15 to 18 percent were typical.
“It’s different if they’re just drinking,” Beaver added, saying people would give “a dollar here, dollar there.”
Both Newsome and Beaver said they had been stiffed by diners before.
“It’s sad,” Newsome said. “Sometimes they forget or don’t have the money.”
However, people who tip more should generally make up for those who don’t tip, Newsome said.
“It averages out most of the time,” she said.
Tipping conventions vary from place to place. The CNBC video suggests 15 percent. Generally, local residents said they tipped more than that.
“I try to do 20 percent, based on the bill with the tax,” Joe Simak, 69, of Conneaut said. “I always leave them something.”
Simak added he takes the price of the food into account when tipping, and would tip a bit more than a flat percentage at places where food was cheaper.
Maleah Young and Johnny Sanabria, both of Ashtabula, said they tipped a dollar amount instead of a percentage. Sanabria said he generally tipped about $5, and both he and Young said they tipped more for better service.
On Facebook, Denise Dispenza said she tip the on total before tax or any discounts and gives 15 to 18 percent unless the service is “excellent” then she gives 20 percent.
“Tip more than 20 percent, especially if the waitress or waiter is good,” posted Marlene Ondrejovic.
Jerry Danalchak, an Ashtabula wine distributor, said he has experience in the industry, and much of the time, he will tip a certain amount of money on a credit card, then leave some money as well so the server will have some cash on hand. When service is particularly good, Danalchak said, he’ll “round it up to the next ten dollars.”
Area business owners were all in favor of leaving large tips. Morgan said the idea of tipping people based on a meal’s cost pre-tax was silly.
“Give them a big tip. Don’t worry about 15 percent of whatever the tax is,” he said.
Kelly Sposito, owner of Harbor Perk, said her employees aren’t paid as tipped employees, but they still receive, and rely on, tips.
“I guess, (in) this day and age, anyone who provides you a service, you tip them out of courtesy,” she said, adding tipping was showing your love with money. “It’s showing (the barista) that you appreciate them. It makes that exchange so much more meaningful.”