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Poll: 70 Percent of Detroit Diners Say They’re Tipping More During the Pandemic

More than half of respondents to an Eater Detroit survey said they’re leaving more than the conventional 20 percent gratuity for dine-in service

A stock photo of $38 dollars and change on a plate with a bill suggesting tips amounts and a metal fork.
What’s the right amount to tip right now? Most people say that they’re tipping more than they normally would due to the pandemic.
Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Detroit diners overwhelmingly say they’re being more generous with tipping restaurant waitstaff during the pandemic. In a recent Eater Detroit poll, 70 percent of respondents said they are tipping more than they might have pre-pandemic. That’s a shift from an earlier survey Eater Detroit conducted in the spring where 60.3 percent of respondents said they would tip more than they had prior to the pandemic.

Last week, we asked readers to help calibrate the new rules for expected gratuity during the pandemic. Customarily, a tipped service worker might expect a roughly 20 percent tip per ticket pre-pandemic. Eater wanted to see whether this standard held up in the current world of socially distanced dining, not only for in-person service but also for takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery.

As it turned out, more than half of respondents say they’re now tipping between 21 percent and 25 percent on their bill for onsite service (either outdoor or indoor) and roughly 16 percent said they generally tipped between 26 percent and 30 percent for in-person service. A small number of diners, about 6 percent, say they’re tipping above 31 percent.

For takeout and curbside service, about 65 percent of respondents said they tipped 20 percent or less (with most in the upper echelon of that range), while 7 percent said they did not tip for those forms of service at all. Around 26 percent of diners said they tipped between 21 and 30 percent on carryout and curbside food orders.

Tipping for delivery orders was relatively on par with takeout and curbside pickup purchases. A majority of patrons said they tipped between 11 percent and 20 percent for orders brought to their door, and another 31 percent said they tipped up to 25 percent on such orders.

With more work and more risk being incurred by restaurant workers and delivery drivers, in a market that’s able to serve about half the customers it used to pre-COVID, it now appears customers are, in fact, being slightly more generous with gratuity.

Restaurant workers: Eater wants to hear from you too: If you are back to work, how has it been? Are the tips better, worse, or the same? Drop us a line at

Detroit Diners: How Much Are You Tipping Right Now? [ED]
How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Detroit Food and Beverage Industry [ED]
All Coronavirus Coverage [ED]