How Much Should You Actually Be Tipping in Wisconsin? The Answer(s) May Surprise You…

By Christina Lorey

January 3, 2023

Tipping used to be pretty straight-forward. Someone serves you. You tip them: 20% for a good experience and 10-15% for a bad. And then came digital tip jars…

We’ve all been there. You place an order at a coffee shop or pizza joint, the cashier turns their iPad screen around, and there are three tip amounts to choose from. The pressure’s mounting. The people in line behind you can see. You feel like a jerk if you don’t tip anything. What do you do?

According to, you should still tip. In Wisconsin, many of these workers are only making the “tipped employee” minimum wage of $2.33/hour. That means they rely on the average of $95/day they’re making in tips to pay their bills.

Here’s how much service industry experts suggest you tip in different circumstances:

When the food is bad, but the service is good… At least 20%.
Tips are based on service, not taste.

When the service is bad, but the food is good… At least 20%.
We all have bad days. Plus, many restaurants are still short-staffed.

If the restaurant says gratuity is included… No need.
It actually may be against restaurant policy for servers to accept an additional tip.

When ordering takeout… At least 10%.
Workers still have to make and package your order.

When ordering delivery… No less than $5.
15% is a good rule of thumb on larger orders.

If it’s snowing or raining… At least 20%.
The delivery person is saving you from going out into bad weather.

When there’s a digital tip jar… At least $1.
If there’s an option to tip, give a dollar, or more if the workers are extra busy or friendly.

When buying a drink at the bar… At least 20%.
It’s also a good way to get quicker service (and sometimes a stronger drink, too!)

READ MORE: 12 Restaurants to Add to Your 2023 Bucket List

Remember the story about the man who left a $1,000 for a Wisconsin server last month?

On Christmas morning, Michael Johnson was in a time crunch. He stopped at Gus’s Diner in Sun Prairie for a quick breakfast before driving to Chicago. His meal cost $17. He left $1,000 on the table.

Quickly, word spread, and news of the massive tip made headlines globally, from CBS news to CNN to Japan Today.

Johnson is CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. For the past 13 years, he’s been raising money for a “pay-it-forward” campaign, which gives gifts, often in the form of unexpected tips, to hard workers who often go unnoticed. 

“You do what you can to create more good,” Johnson explained. “You work hard, you love hard, and use all the good that is out there.” 

Get Involved
The “pay it forward” campaign is in effect year-round and anyone able to help can do so at


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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