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I'm in a pub in England. I went up to the bar and asked for a plate of fish and chips (to be served to my table) and a pint (handed to me on the spot). My money was collected at the bar.

I would like to leave a tip (10 percent or so is customary, I understand). Should I leave it on the table when I go, or should I have given it to the bartender when I paid?

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Tipping is optional in general in the UK, rather than customary. Especially in a pub food environment, it's unexpected (much more common when the bill is brought to your table), although always of course welcomed. In general if you are tipping, it is done at approximately the same time as paying.

The normal way of tipping in a pub where money is exchanged at the bar would be to indicate to the barman to "keep the change" or "and one for yourself" – adding the cost of an extra drink to the bill.

If you feel that it won't be imagined that you simply forgot the money, and you aren't worried that other patrons (or passers by from the street) will steal it, then you could also leave money on the table. Note: I would not do this in any pub that sees high traffic – someone is very likely to just take it and buy a pint.

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    "Keep the change" is common; I've never in my 20-odd years of going to pubs heard anyone say "and one for yourself" or anything similar, despite having lived in several different cities around England. Also, the question specifically asks about food: offering them "and one [meal] for yourself" would be excessive unless your party contained at least eight or so people. – David Richerby Jul 16 '15 at 7:09
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    Just a small note that "and one for yourself" is also a popular "pulling" technique (flirting) and you may get a rather different reaction than what you intended – Sayse Jul 16 '15 at 8:08
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    I've overheard other punters saying "and one for yourself" either 2 or 3 times ever. Most of those I don't think were attempts to flirt, although I am sure it is used for that. In general, if you're a foreginer who goes around saying that, you're going to look like a foreigner who read about it on the internet. But Americans insisting on tipping for everything is just Americans abroad anyway. – CMaster Jul 16 '15 at 8:27
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    Myself and some other Brits were discussing the "and one for yourself" thing the other day. Roughly half (mostly younger, <25) had never even heard of it and thought it sounded weird. Of those who had (mostly >25), most agreed it was slightly old fashioned and something you'd expect in, for example, a quiet rural pub where the barman is also the landlord (therefore won't sack himself for drinking on the job!) and the tipper is a regular who considers the barman a friend. Never ever ever in a chain pub or a busy inner city pub. – user568458 Jul 16 '15 at 11:09
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    I'd like to throw my 2pence worth in. I am British and have lived in the Midlands and Northwest of England all my life (I am also over 25) I have on occasion told the barmaid in my local family pub to "have one for yourself" in the run up to Christmas time. This was most definitely not an attempt to flirt or pull the barmaid in question. I have also heard this on Christmas day to a landlord in a village pub. – Matt Wilko Jul 16 '15 at 13:27
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I'm British, have lived in the South-East of England all my life and have been using pubs for 30 years all over the UK.

There are pubs and there are pubs. Many UK "pubs" are now basically restaurants in an old pub building. Hardly anyone sits at the bar and drinks. Your food - and the bill - are brought to your table. In these, normal restaurant rules apply, you can give a tip when paying the bill, you can leave some money on the table - or you can not tip at all and it won't be a problem. If you pay for food and drinks at the bar, it would look strange if you tipped.

You DO NOT tip at the bar for drinks. "Have one for yourself" is something I've heard twice in my life, once from someone who knew the barman well and was talking to him constantly - the other from someone who wanted to impress a pretty barmaid.

  • Does your final paragraph only apply to the places described in the second paragraph? Because it is completely incorrect for real pubs. If you've only heard that twice in your life, you have spent barely any time at all in actual pubs. You'd be more likely to hear it twice per night in those. Then again, if you're a Southerner, that might explain it.. :P – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 17 '15 at 13:36
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This is an experience answer, no links from me here.

As a regular visitor to the UK and going out with locals, I have seen both. In a busy pub, most people do not leave money on the table as the staff can miss it being there.
But when the pub is quiet, like after the end of the lunch rush, it is quite common to see people leaving money on the table.

table with some glasses and an empty crisp packet
Photo by Willeke

When you pay for food or drinks, you can just add money to the bill and pay more or round it up and tell the staff that they can keep (part of) the change.

If you are just buying drinks, or pay for the drinks separate from paying for the dinner, you can again add to the money to be paid, but I have heard quite a few English people say: "and one for yourself" meaning that the bar man can take a drink on your cost but often they just add a drink to the bill but put the money into a tips piggy bank.

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    Are we supposed to be able to see money in that photo? I can't see it... – Nate Eldredge Jul 15 '15 at 21:04
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    That is not a £5 note, it's a bag of crisps! – Michael Hampton Jul 15 '15 at 21:59
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    I want to go to this country where Lay's bags are valid currency. – Undo Jul 15 '15 at 22:07
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    @GayotFow Even thoguh it's obviously not a British pub, since Lay's is branded as Walker's, here? – David Richerby Jul 16 '15 at 7:07
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    I've never heard anyone saying "and one for yourself" or anything similar, in 20-odd years of pub-going, living in various cities in England. Also, the question asks specifically about food: a tip of "and one [meal] for yourself" would be excessive, especially given that tipping in the UK is usually aroudn the 10%/round-up-the-bill level. – David Richerby Jul 16 '15 at 7:10
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You don't tip in pubs; at least, not in the South around London. If you appreciate the barman/barmaid, offer to buy them a drink when you buy your round. This is a reminder that they are ordinary people like you who like a drink, and not just servants.

They may pour their drink on the spot, or they may choose not to and drink later; in that case, they will take the monetary amount of the drink of their choosing.

I wish I could remember where I learned this. It may have been written down or it may have been word of mouth. Nevertheless it has been very valuable.

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    Yes, a good explanation of the "one for yourself" rationale. You don't tip because everyone's equal in a pub, the proper pub being a refuge from hierarchy, rudeness and other pointless irritations. – Francis Norton Aug 5 '16 at 15:12
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    One written down source would be Watching the English by Kate Fox. – Peter Taylor May 21 '17 at 15:28
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You'll often find (sometimes improvised) tip jars next to the cash register, or somewhere behind the counter. If you feel like tipping you can place your cash in there. For completeness sake look for something like this:

pub tip jar
Image courtesy of blogspot.

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    Balancing a coin on a floating lemon is also a common thing seen in pubs, generally though, it isn't the norm to tip (though I'm sure it will be welcomed by the staff!) – Joe Jul 15 '15 at 21:00
  • Good advice in general, but I didn't see a tip jar in this particular pub. – Nate Eldredge Jul 15 '15 at 21:03
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    Often in pubs I see the tip "jar" (often a pint glass) behind the bar, and the staff put money in it when told keep the change/for you/etc – CMaster Jul 15 '15 at 21:06
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In this situation I would say that tipping would be considered odd/unusual.

You would usually tip the waiter/waitress in a restaurant or pub if you were paying at the table. I.e. they presented you with a bill at the end of your meal; the tip being in response to receiving what you considered to be good service.

If you were paying in advance for your meal at the bar then you don't know if you will receive good service or not.

However, if you have paid in advance you could hand a tip over after your meal to the barman/barmaid on your way out as a thank you.

In either case who actually ends up with this tip money varies a great deal from place to place: Where does your tip really go? The truth about restaurant gratuities, which is one reason why people can be reluctant to tip at all in the UK (especially in pub/restaurant chains)

Note that tipping in the UK is optional unlike the USA where you are expected to tip 15-20% as the norm, regardless of whether you paid before or after your meal.

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    +1 Generally in the UK you only tip for table service, so in a pub where you order / pay at the bar I wouldn't expect a service charge. – James Yale Jul 16 '15 at 15:35
  • @JamesYale - Agreed. There definitely would not be a service charge added to the bill for food drink ordered at the bar. The question is more about whether the customer should give a voluntary tip or not. – Matt Wilko Jul 16 '15 at 15:39
  • I'd consider a service charge vs a tip roughly analogous in the majority of cases. – James Yale Jul 16 '15 at 16:14
  • It made me genuinely angry when I went to a restaurant / bar place in Shoreditch (I won't name it) and discovered, after ordering at the bar and then checking my receipt once I'd sat back down, that a 12.5% service charge had been added to my bill. For what!? They wanted about £3 to carry a single pizza from the kitchen to the table. – Richiban Jul 17 '15 at 9:59
  • @Richiban was it a place that also serves as a takeaway? My local fish and chips place adds 10% if you eat in; the service referred to in that case is "providing you with a warm clean place to eat" – frodoskywalker Jul 17 '15 at 11:41
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We only ever eat out in pubs when we go on our Easter and summer hols, but this is what I always do:

If the food has been good, we've been looked after and I pay at the bar at the end, I'll say to the person behind the bar 'I never know what to do with tips in pubs, so could I buy you, the waitress and the chef a drink?' If I've paid for it when I ordered it I do the same when I buy a post meal pint.

It's always been greatly received and probably actually a bit of a stingy tip considering there's seven of us including two kids with various food allergies. We've occasionally used a place more than once during a holiday and have always been welcomed back and nothing dubious appears to have happened to the food, so I think my method does okay!

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My skinflint tipping strategy in pubs and restaurants is thus:

  • If in a chain pub like 'Spoons or somewhere, where you pay when you order, I never leave a tip.

  • See if the bill already includes an 'Optional' service charge. If so, I don't tip.

  • Remove the price of all alcohol from the bill, then leave a 10% tip on the remainder. I'm already paying over the odds for a bottle of wine, so why add another 10% to that?

protected by JoErNanO Feb 12 '16 at 17:51

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