Do You Tip at Denny’s? Ultimate Guide


Denny’s is one of the most popular diners in the US with over 1700 locations throughout the country and a healthy $540m annual revenue.

While Denny’s is far from being a Michelin-star dining experience, it is renowned for providing reasonable food, at reasonable prices, with more than adequate service.

If you’re heading to Denny’s or are already there, you might be wondering whether you should tip and how much if so.

To assist you there, we’ve looked into this and will bring you up to speed with what the tipping etiquette is, how much to tip, how much their employees earn, and much more.

Keep reading to find out more…

Do You Tip at Denny’s? The Short Answer

In summary, it is definitely customary to tip at Denny’s. Their servers provide sit-down service and rely on tips to subsidize their fairly modest base pay. We’d recommend tipping 15-20% of the bill as being a sensible and realistic gratuity.

We’ll cover our rationale for this below…

How Much Do Denny’s Employees Earn?

One of the key factors when deciding whether to tip is how much the recipient earns.

We’re all familiar with the idea that certain workers rely on tips to boost and make up for their low basic rate of pay.

But what about Denny’s employees?

Without a doubt, Denny’s workers fall under this category and it’s easy to see why given their poor salaries and rates of pay:

RoleRate of Pay
Server$13.66 per hour (~$26,227 pa on basis of a 40-hour work week)
Cook $15.99 per hour (~$30,700 pa on basis of a 40-hour work week)
Restaurant Manager$18.63 per hour (~$34,769 pa on basis of a 40-hour work week)
Source: Indeed

These are fairly modest salaries with the server’s hourly rate coming close to minimum wage.

Even restaurant managers appear to earn well below the US average yearly salary which is around $56,000.

On that basis, it’s easy to see why most people tip at Denny’s and why we encourage you to as well.

How Much Does Denny’s Food Cost?

We’ve pulled up Denny’s menu to take a look at their prices and they are about typical for what you’d expect to pay at a diner.

Here’s an overview of a few of their dishes:

Double cheeseburger and fries$12.99
Sirloin steak with 2 sides$14.99
Wild Salmon with 2 sides$14.29
Apple pie$4.99
Soft drink$1.99

So, expect a typical meal for two at Denny’s to come to around $30 – $40 which we would say is fairly standard for a diner of this calibre.

How Much to Tip at Denny’s

The going rate for tipping in a restaurant in the US is 15-20% of the total cost of the food/drinks, although we’re happy to drop that down to 10% when tipping in buffet-style restaurants or where you order food at a counter like at Nando’s.

On the basis of the above menu items, say your food comes to $35 for two of you, then expect to tip around $5 – $7.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to the standard percentage and you could just apply a fixed amount but we’d advise against anything lower than about $5 unless you’re just ordering drinks or dessert for example.

We certainly don’t like tipping less than $2 in most cases which begins to look rather tight-fisted and becomes meaningless.

You should note that tips are generally pooled and shared amongst the staff so you can rest assured that the kitchen workers and other staff away from the front of the house are also getting a cut of the tips.

What Do Denny’s Workers Say?

We spoke to a former Denny’s employer who worked as a server for 12 months.

She said:

I worked as a server in 2018 doing 3 nights a week. I received around $60 in tips most shifts with most customers paying 10-20% of their bill. On a bad shift that would go down to around $30. On a better one it could be as high as $200

Danielle, former employee of Denny’s

When to Tip and Not To Tip at Denny’s

denny's diner people

There will of course be times when you can justify not paying a tip but it’s not very often we’d recommend it unless your experience is truly awful.

We’d suggest perhaps lowering your tip if:

  • The food is cold or poor quality
  • The service is slow or your order isn’t followed
  • You’re treated poorly or subjected to poor professionalism or rude behavior
  • We generally tip less for takeout

On the flip side of that coin, you might decide to tip more if:

  • It’s around the holidays
  • You’ve received exceptional service
  • The server has gone beyond the call of duty in some way
  • You’ve received a discount on your food

Final Thoughts

Denny’s is the perfect place to tip.

It’s the sort of establishment that tipping was invented for. If you don’t tip at Denny’s, will you ever tip anywhere?

Probably not!

The mixture of typically decent table service you receive at Denny’s and the poor wage structure of their employees, combined with reasonable value, means it presents a textbook example of where a tip should be given.

We’d suggest the usual 15-20% of the total of your bill and nothing less than $5 unless you’re only ordering drinks or desserts etc…

There will be times when a tip can be withheld completely but we’d propose you refrain from this unless you receive ridiculously bad service.

If you’ve not had the best experience, reducing the tip is often more than enough punishment.

Remember that servers at these places are often overworked, are definitely underpaid and everyone is allowed to have a bad day every now and then.

About the author

Oliver graduated from law school in 2008 and has practiced exclusively in the field of civil litigation for the last 10 years. He has a wealth of experience and expertise in litigation involving large financial losses and a special interest in consumer law. He has achieved numerous 7 figure settlements and has been involved in multi-billion dollar class-action consumer lawsuits against companies such as the Volkswagen Group. Away from the law, he is a consumer information and personal finance writer, having been featured in key publications such as Yahoo Finance, GO Banking Rates, NewsBreak, MEL Magazine, and many more.

-Chief Editor and Founder

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