One thing I'm not sure about (even as an American, in America) is when you go to someplace that's a combination of entertainment and food, do you tip on the total bill or just the food and drinks?

Specifically, I'm thinking of venues where you rent a booth for, say, a golf driving range. It's full service so you can also order drinks and food, which they will bring to your booth. The booth rental is a substantial part of the bill (or is 100% of the bill if you didn't order anything). What's the tipping decorum in this situation?

Tip the server for the drinks and the food, or tip them for the entire bill, including the booth rental?

  • 4
    If you didn't purchase any food or drinks, would you still tip the "server" an amount based on the booth rental? Because that's your answer.
    – Peter M
    Nov 29, 2022 at 16:17
  • @PeterM Yeah really that's the question. If it was a driving range with no service, there would be no tipping anyway, I imagine. But the mere fact that a server comes around taking orders raises the question. And if you order, say, one iced tea, but rent the booth for 3 hours, you could end up giving a 50 cent tip on a $100 bill ($2 tea, $98 booth rental) and I can't decide if that's reasonable... You are, in a way, "taking up a table", even if you don't order anything, and you were probably part of that server's "section", so.....?
    – JamieB
    Nov 29, 2022 at 16:25
  • Does the food or drink cost money in addition to the rental, or is it a flat fee? Nov 29, 2022 at 21:16
  • 1
    @JamieB The waiter isn't going out and collecting the golf balls from the range, so they shouldn't be tipped for that portion of the bill.
    – user71659
    Nov 29, 2022 at 22:02
  • @DJClayworth Food and drink is separate, although the bill is presented as a typical restaurant bill, i.e. giant total at the bottom with a tip line under it and "booth rental" is one of the line items. You could subtract that to figure your actual food/drink total.
    – JamieB
    Nov 29, 2022 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


Tipping culture in North America is a nightmare. It's important to remember that all tipping is optional, and there is no "correct" amount to tip. At best there is a "normal" tip (i.e. what most people tip) which is made more complicated at one end by the restaurant industry constantly publishing articles trying to convince you that you "should" tip very highly, and at the other by the much-publicised fact that many wait staff don't get paid much and rely on tips for their income. (It's true of course, but restaurants will try to convince you that it's your job to make up the shortfall in the wages they are paying their staff).

If I rented a booth for $100, and during that time a waiter did nothing except bring me a $3 drink, there is no way that I would tip $15. I might tip 1 or 2 dollars (on the grounds that rounding up to the nearest dollar is usually a good thing on a tip). If the server did other things like bringing me golf balls I might consider more.

In short the tip should be proportional to the actual service given. Tipping on the cost of the food brought is a pretty good rule of thumb, and adding a bit more if extra services were performed, like them coming to ask you if you wanted anything at frequent intervals.

  • 1
    Yeah, figuring out the "normal" for an unusual venue is where it gets hard. I'm sure there must be a lot of places like this in Vegas -- entertainment is a line item on the bill along with food and drink, presented as one total. Tipping on the food and drink service makes the most sense, I think, but there is "American guilt" in getting a large bill and only tipping a small amount (because you're actually tipping 20% but only on a much smaller section of the bill)
    – JamieB
    Nov 29, 2022 at 22:38

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