Restaurant Coupons: 100 Waiters On Coupon Etiquette

By Jessica Reinhart      

You landed a sweet coupon for "buy one entree, get one free" at your favorite eatery, but you’re leery about actually cashing it in. Sure, you’re into saving money, but you wonder: will the waiter snicker behind your back? Not in the least.

"In my opinion I don't think coupons are bad at all because it gives people a reason to come back," says Matt Dragone, a server at Bertucci’s. "I am all for the restaurant being busy every weekend so I can have more change in my pocket."  But Matt, along with other veteran servers, will tell you that there are a few simple rules to follow to ensure that your dining experience is a pleasant one for all involved.

We asked over 100 servers what tips they would offer to restaurant patrons using coupons. Here’s what they had to say:

Be Kind to Your Server! It may seem like a no-brainer, but kindness goes a long way. "Waitresses understand trying to save a little money and as long as the customer is polite I wouldn't think anything of (a patron using coupons)", says waitress Andrea Start.

Base the Tip on the Pre-Coupon Total. Every server we polled agreed that leaving a tip on the original amount of the bill – pre-coupon discount – is the single most important factor in them coming away from a coupon user without a bad taste in their mouth. Of course it makes sense in theory. But it's remembering to put it into practice that's hard.

Save, But Don’t Skimp! Your tip should reflect the level of service you received. Most servers agree that 15-20 percent is an adequate amount to tip for good service. "I would never look down on anyone for using a coupon, as long as I still got a decent tip," says Amanda Truscott, a former waitress. "Ultimately, that's all your server cares about." 

It's Always Chic to Save In case you're still the least bit worried about feeling uneasy using restaurant coupons, our parting advice is this: you should never feel bad about getting more for less. Paying more when you could have saved isn't admirable in the least. So save where you can while simply remembering to take care of your server based on the service that was provided.