Tipping has become increasingly more complicated since the addition of restaurants that are not quite full service but not fast food, either. Joints like Noodles & Company, Chin's Asia Fresh, Qdoba and even the non-chain Cubanita's offer "partial service" where the diner stands on line, orders food and then takes a seat and waits for a server or "runner" to bring the meal to the table.
The question is: Should you leave a tip, and if so, how much?
"I'm thinking seven-and-a-half percent," says Mary Price, who frequents many of these "partial service" eateries. "I'm only half joking. They (the servers) do half the amount of work of a 15-percent-worthy waitress, right?"
Price might not be so far off. Marta Bianchini, owner of Cubanita's, 728 N. Milwaukee St., says patrons commonly leave five or 10 percent tips during lunchtime when her restaurant switches from full to partial service.
"We leave it up to the customer," she says. "They might leave five or 10 percent, or 15 percent, or nothing -- it's entirely up to the customer -- but our runners truly appreciate however much is left."
Noodles & Company has a strict no-tipping policy. In fact, there's a sign stating the policy in all of the restaurants. But Paul Eichkorn, manager of the Brookfield location, says, "A lot of people still leave tips on the table, so we put any tips into a fund for a staff party."
Another local manager, who answered the phone as "Rob" but refused to give his last name, says his East Side Noodles & Company puts tips towards a variety of charities.
At Qdoba there's a tip jar in front of the register, and accordingly to General Manager Dave Burns, "People rarely leave 15 percent. Most people just throw in their change, which is fine."
Burns says the money is split at the end of each shift between the front and back floor workers, but not the managers, who are salaried.
Chin's Asia Fresh employees don't expect patrons to tip either, but many often do anyway. Accordingly to the Laura Burns, assistant manager of the Brookfield location, the tips go into a staff fund for when they want to order food from places outside the restaurant. (Apparently a person can only eat so many egg rolls.)
The bottom line: Tipping at these "new fast food" joints is entirely up to the diner. There isn't any protocol -- yet.
"I think there should be an understood amount for these restaurants," says Price. "Even though the staff probably makes a higher hourly wage, they still deserve to get tipped if they do a nice job bringing your food out and cleaning up your mess."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.