When I go to a fully automated restaurant in the USA (example 1, example 2), am I supposed to tip?

  • 10
    Incidentally, it isn't customary to tip in fast-food restaurants. Tipping is only customary in restaurants where food is brought to your table.
    – waiwai933
    May 28 '16 at 0:43
  • 3
    @davidvc they don't address this case. May 28 '16 at 1:44
  • 1
    @davidvc it seems to me that the answers as well as the question assumed that the waiters are humans. May 28 '16 at 1:50
  • "Example 1" is from the satirical web site News Examiner. May 28 '16 at 2:24
  • 2
    From the example 1 link: "The only staff that can be seen are in store to help customers with problems they may have with the software." Sounds like that could get unhealthily filthy very fast. If you're actually supposed to sweep the previous customer's leftover plates and random food spills off a table yourself in order to find a place to sit, then no, I wouldn't tip. (In fact, I wouldn't even eat there, mooting the point.) May 28 '16 at 10:18

Using your cited vend-o-matic "restaurant", I would hazard a guess that the card swipe / authorization process is simply sale and does not offer a tipping option. Encouraging folks to "tip" a vending machine would likely not be viewed favorably by the buying public.

Taking the automated restaurant further, to where robots are taking your order tableside, then bringing drinks and food, returning for desert orders, etc, you may see a service charge or tipping option which would be intended to be shared amongst the humans working in the kitchen (same as waiters sharing tips with cooks, host and bussers in better restaurants).

But once the entire kitchen is automated, any attempts at trolling for tips would simply be management trying to up their profits.


No, robots wouldn't even know what a tip was, and you'd not tip at McDonald's even staffed by humans.

  • 5
    Unless you leave some bolts and screws. May 28 '16 at 0:24
  • 1
    pst, robot, I have a liter of the oil here, do you interested?
    – VMAtm
    May 29 '16 at 10:19

In the US, tipping is usual (and expected) in so called full service restaurants; meaning you sit down directly and order at a table with the server.

No tips are usual (but of course allowed and liked) in half-service restaurants, those are restaurants where you order yourself at a central desk, sit down, and your food is brought to your table by the server.

And in self service restaurants, no tipping is usual either (and probably you would get a strange look).

  • Is a fully automated restaurant a full service restaurant or self-service? May 28 '16 at 1:45
  • 3
    do you sit down and a server asks you what you want? probably not; you order yourself. And no servers bring the food; so self-service.
    – Aganju
    May 28 '16 at 1:46
  • Your last statement sounds a bit too broad. It's pretty common to see a small cup or jar for tips in some shops where you're not served at a table. Subway is a common example in my area. No reasonable person would hold it against you if you choose not to contribute to it, though. You may also want to mention delivery for completeness sake (which you're very much expected to tip for).
    – jpmc26
    May 28 '16 at 8:16
  • @jpmc26 - Well Subway being a place where the staff build a sandwich to your order in front of you, it is understandable to have a tip jar out, as it would fit closer to Aganju's "half-service", not "self-service" as in the OPs example..
    – user13044
    May 28 '16 at 8:26
  • 3
    @jpmc26 - I did say "closer to" not "is". But rather than nitpicking other people's comments, why not write out your definitions and post it.
    – user13044
    May 28 '16 at 8:41

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