Former Server Explains Why She Refused To Tip More Than $2 On $75 Bill

Her subpar experience speaks to a larger issue in the food service industry.

unhappy woman seeing restaurant bill Nicoleta Ionescu / Shutterstock

Going out to eat means you not only get to spend time with your loved one, friend, or even co-workers, but hopefully have an enjoyable experience with good food and even better service.

Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Sometimes, food and drinks may take a while to come out when the restaurant is busy. Or, the server may not be as attentive as one would hope.

And for one woman, a former server herself, her experience at a Buffalo Wild Wings was, in fact, much worse.


A former server explained why she tipped so little at restaurant, despite usually tipping 20% or more.

Jenna Mitchell posted a video to share the frustrating experience at Buffalo Wild Wings, explaining how the service was so poor that she hardly tipped anything.

“I have never in my life tipped less than 20%,” she began, adding that due to her extensive experience in food and beverage, she was familiar with how much can go wrong behind the scenes.

Mitchell knew that issues in the kitchen or with management can be out of the server’s control, but this time was different. “I understand that things are out of your control sometimes, okay. This was beyond that,” she said.




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Mitchell said that she got her box of chicken wings to go after her experience, and was eating them at home because she and her fiancé had waited at the restaurant for over two hours!

Recounting her experience, Mitchell went through the events of the evening. The pair sat down and waited for only a few minutes before a manager, not a server, came to collect their drink order. Mitchell wasn't bothered by this and assumed the manager was simply helping their server out.


Mitchell and her fiancé ordered two beers with lime and water, and after 10 minutes, the server appeared with only the beers — no lime and no water. Because they were hungry, they gave the waitress their order, including an appetizer and entrees.

The two were prepared to wait, and were happy to sit and watch the football game on TV while drinking their beers. But after finishing their drinks 30 minutes later, the table still hadn’t gotten water, silverware, or napkins, nor could the pair get the server's attention.

Former Server Explains Why She Refused To Tip More Than 20% On Restaurant BillPhoto: Ekateryna Zubal / Shutterstock


She tried to get the server's attention by making eye contact with her, but she never seemed to take the hint. And, apparently, her more subtle attempts to grab the server's attention weren't enough, as their waitress never came back to check on the table.

Eventually, Mitchell says she had to ask the bartender for the waters, and then had to ask a different server for napkins. By this point, it had become clear that their server wasn't coming back, and their overall experience was way below their expectations.

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Mitchell and her fiancé sat there for over an hour without receiving their food.

Finally, her fiancé got his food. But after a few minutes, it appeared that Mitchell's food was running sorely behind: “We sat there for, like, an hour and 15 minutes after Dion [Mitchell's fiancé] had gotten his food. I had not gotten anything.”


The server never came to check on the table during that time, and when she finally did return to the table, it was to ask if the couple was ready to check out, not to bring Mitchell's food. When Mitchell explained that her food had never come out, the server apologized to the pair of them, and said she would go check on it.

Mitchell then asked for the check so they could be ready to finish and leave. After this, it still took up to 20 minutes for the food to come out, and when it did, it didn’t have the side of fries with it. The couple then asked if the side was coming, and the waitress left to retrieve it.

Former Server Explains Why She Refused To Tip More Than 20% On Restaurant BillPhoto: Gene Brutty / Unsplash


Although Mitchell claimed she and her fiancé were being “very nice,” the waitress still came back angry and “threw the fries down.” Mitchell eventually had to ask the host of the restaurant to get them to-go boxes, as well as asking the bartender to find their server so they could pay and leave.

The whole encounter took over two hours, and Mitchell hadn’t even gotten the chance to eat her food in the restaurant.

Her experience created mixed responses with her viewers, with some wondering why she sat for so long waiting for her food without complaining, and others sharing similar experiences with servers neglecting them.

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While Mitchell handled the situation with grace, it reveals a larger problem within the food service industry.

While it's well-known that servers rely on their tips to make ends meet, there's something to be said about understaffed restaurants. But why the shortage? Understaffed restaurants may be a result of a few things:

  • High turnover rates: A 2023 study from the National Restaurant Association found that, as of 2023, there were 400,000 fewer people employed in the hospitality industry compared to 2020, and around 87% of restaurants were understaffed. Additionally, software company Toast found that the average annual turnover rate for restaurants is 74%, higher than any industry in America.
  • Reduced hours: Restaurants are open for almost 6.5 fewer hours per week, compared to 2019. That's a national decrease of 7.5%
  • Overworked staff: Many servers and wait staff are having to take on extra shifts, often working overtime. A KURU Footwear survey found that about 90% of food service employees are working more shifts. And though that money is certainly helpful, it's likely creating massive burnout.
  • Low wages: As a result of the pandemic in 2020, many workers in the food industry were laid off. But for those who returned to food service, 46% said pay is the most important factor of their job satisfaction. Considering that most servers make minimum wage, it's no wonder they may have left the food industry for something more.

Mitchell's experience also calls into question whether customers should tip based on the total bill, or on the service they are provided. In this particular situation, it's unclear whether the server was purposely neglectful or if they were just slammed with too many tables.

A majority of people agree that tipping should be based on the total amount on the bill, adding a 20% tip (or more) for their server. Anyone in the food industry knows that not only are wages often split between servers and back-of-the-house employees, but that servers aren't always responsible for hold-ups.


Though Mitchell's dining experience at this particular establishment may not have been ideal, it starts an important conversation.

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Hawthorn Martin is a news and entertainment writer living in Texas. They focus on social justice, pop culture, and human interest stories.