It appears that restaurant wait staff will become automated in the near future. It doesn't seem necessary to tip an order-taking tablet. But the runners and bussers typically get a percentage of the wait staff's tips, so some sort of gratuity seems appropriate.

How should a tip be adjusted when you're not waited on by a human being?

  • I only tip because restaurants pay their wait staff under minimum wage, expecting tips to cover their wages. If it were not for this, I would not tip since I would consider their work and service doing their job and part of their wages. There are some cases though where I feel happy to tip because of exceptional service (note: not in a restaurant). Given that information, the only role taken away is the waiter asking for the order. This process itself is fairly quick and I find tablets to be more of a gimmick than help (think tech illiterate, troubleshooting, etc.. I would tip the same.
    – BLaZuRE
    Feb 1 '14 at 18:17
  • 1
    This seems more akin to the burger places I've seen that have paper menus with checkboxes on the table: you fill out your order, with all the customization you want, and hand it to the waiter when they bring your drinks. There's still a person involved, the restaurant is just declining to trust their memory for orders. So if anyone knows what to tip there, I'd say tip that amount. Feb 3 '14 at 19:13

The corollary to this is a partial service restaurant, typically Boston-style fish houses or Crisper's work like this. Customers, approach the register, order their own food and fill their own drinks, then sit down with a number.

A runner delivers the food and will occasionally refill drinks if necessary.

What do you tip at those places? Perhaps the same is in order here, perhaps a bit more since you did not have to stand in line, or fill your own drinks.


In theory, if I am a waitperson, I'd be able to service more tables for the fact that I'm not taking the orders. If 15% is customary, you can drop to 10% and not feel you are ripping them off. 50% more tables, and they're earning the same money.

But, tipping is pretty personal. Some people under-tip regardless of service. I've been known to over-tip at a buffet when the waitress has cleared my dishes 3 times and filled my drink before I ask her to. All that attention, do I really leave only $3 on a $20 tab?

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