By Jeff Thomas

Bayou Classic Results

Every year you hear it during Bayou Classic. You probably believe it too.  Black people just don’t tip at restaurants .  So restaurants, if they open at all, close early. Hotels require armbands for guests.  Hotels raise their rates. New Orleans’ tourism economy places the you’re only kinda welcome mat out for Bayou Classic fans.  Cause the prevailing overarching theme is, “Black people don’t tip.”

Also, you hear, you might hear that some manager asked the black person for proof that he was a hotel guest, just after a warm and pleasant greeting to the white person. You might know that the few restaurants that are open only offer limited menus, featuring fried chicken.  And you might know  lines are long, and service is slow.  You probably didn’t hear that the waiters are rude.

Chicken or the Egg

What came first?  The bad service or no tips?  While the narrative is black people don’t tip, is the reality black people get bad service? Is the bad service because huge crowds overwhelm understaffed restaurants? Or do wait staff just expect low tips, so they provide bad service?  Is race a factor?  Most of the servers who complain are white, while most of the Bayou Classic customers are African American.  African American servers rarely complain, and black owned restaurants welcome the huge crowds and big paydays. Yet white restaurants close early and offer limited menus and their white waiters complain. Why don’t black people tip at restaurants?


African Americans and restaurants have a complicated relationship in America.  In fact, the Canal St. site of the building collapse was once the epicenter for the civil rights protests in New Orleans.  Oretha Castle Haley led groups of protesters to sit in at the segregated lunch counter at Woolworth.  And across the country African Americans used restaurants sit ins to achieve a sense of equality in America. For years after, African Americans received poor, disgruntled service from restaurant staff who felt forced to comply with changing laws.  To this day, most African Americans are keenly aware of service differences when eating out.  And not tipping is the historical response to bad service.

Narrative Fallacy and Confirmation Bias

We love great stories.  We can remember things better when there is a story attached to the details.  The problem is narrative fallacy occurs meaning later we often ignore facts and cling to the emotion of the story.  This narrative fallacy may be a factor in the widely accepted story that black people don’t tip.  So, when a ready to tip and hungry group of African Americans sit at a table, the waiter’s preconceived notions contribute to poor service and even ignoring the black table for a table of white patrons who suffer no such preconceived bias. 

While some of the Bayou Classic visitors are college students, most are college graduates who fly into town, pay to stay in downtown hotels and are good job having, middle aged professional alumni looking to enjoy the intense rivalry.  Meanwhile some college kid visits and spends $15 bucks at a Daiquiri shop and eats fast food on Canal St.  But confirmation bias – the tendency to see things as you wish them to be – leads to widespread reports of tip shorting.  Even if black people tipped at 35%, there is no way to overcome the built-in beliefs of waiters who believe that black people don’t tip.

 No matter what really happens the narrative will be the same.  People will believe what they want to believe.  Yet the city reports that Bayou Classic had $50 million-dollar economic input. 

With just a little better customer service, that could be a $50.05 million dollar impact.

32 thoughts on “Why Black People Don’t Tip”
  1. You left out the part,where you noticed the linen appeared worn.It was, because,Hotels routinely replace fresh linen w/old worn linen for us.This to go along with the gourmet chicken menu’s.
    MARRIOTT was notorious for this practice,Maintaining a storage facility behind the hotel for AM events.Soooo rather than complain uselessly,we gratefully cutback on the gratuities.
    Former employee in hotel industry (security).

    1. You think the Marriot employees covertly obtained the room number when they were somehow signaled that black patrons had just paid for a room, then rushed to the special “worn” linen closet and then to the room before the black patrons could get there and switched the “good” linen off the bed with the worn linen. They are gonna drop a net over you and take you to the hotel with the rubber walls and no linen😆

  2. Greeting!
    As a waitress, it is absolutely not a myth. “BLACK PEOPLE” don’t tip and they have the waitress running back and forth, like really extra. No matter how nice or well you wait on the customer they are just not grateful in African American restaurants. Self hate, slave mentality mindset is what we are dealing with and black people supporting or tipping in restaurants. My position is I wait on you as if you tipped me $100.00, the not tipping is totally on them. I go to restaurants and make sure I tip, black, white it doesn’t matter. Someone serves you and you should be thankful. However black customers go to white own restaurants and they tip really big regardless of the service. I have seen with my own eyes. Tip black on black has a lot to do with that plantation mindset. Consciously or unconsciously, knowing or unknowingly self hate is deeply embedded in their minds, heart and soul. I could go on and on but I will stop here. I love my people but my people need to love themselves and their own people.

    1. it’s a generalization. I am black and have always tipped at 15%. when you say all, does that mean all white folks do? not true.

      1. I am a Uber Driver. I deliver food also. I am not racist and I have black friends. Over the 2000 trips with Uber, Black people definitely don’t tip. Maybe 15 percent do. But when they do tip, it’s peanuts. That’s why they are getting cancelled trips and bad service. Drivers are reluctant to go to black communities for service. Advise.. start tipping.

    2. I’m a pizza driver and never see a person before I get there. They get the exact same service as anyone else, I truly don’t understand it. Whether it be cultural or something, but majority (not all, of course) of black people truly don’t tip. It’s not my service, it’s not the skin color, but that’s literally just how it is.

  3. Thanks for telling it like it really is. These white waiters don’t want to serve us half the time but expect a great tip. Nope!

    1. News flash, black waiters don’t like catching black patrons either, because “we don’t tip”. also known for being bad tippers are Asians and anyone from Europe.

    2. I am not trying to discredit your article or disrespect you, but as someone who has worked in restaurants for 20 years, I would suggest that you try working at a restaurant as a server for some time and then you might have a different perspective on this matter. I am a woman of color and most of the customers at my restaurant are blacks. I do my best to provide great service, but I don’t get treated well and most of the times, I don’t get tipped. I do want to make clear that they are a lot black people who do tip, but unfortunately, they are not the majority. I know these are tough times for everyone, so I understand if someone might not have money to tip me, but the main problem is how disrespectful and entitled a lot of my customers are. I think your article presents an interesting point of view based on black history, but there are always two sides of the story. This article is missing the other half. Thank you and I am not trying offend anyone.

      1. 95 % of the customers at the restaurant i work at are black and 90% tip absolutely horrible. All servers do not want a black table even black servers. Nooooooo One. Its not just the worst tipping on earth, they are also the neediest and most disrespectful tables who make you run all over the restaurant doing worthless shit just to try to ignorantly make a claim that your service was lacking. Then everyone almost every single time will get split checks every single time. So you will have to take extra time splitter their checks up cause they dont even Trust the people or family that they are eating with. And then tip nothing literally 0 sometimes. Not to mention they will try to send half their food back half eaten and try to get discounts and free food from management further lower the bill they are supposed to tip on. Now you wasted all this time on your worst tipping table. Its BS. And any server knows everything im saying is true. No one wants to deal with it. Dont try to sugar coat their bs. They should just all get take out because they also always order more than they can eat or they just love taking food home so you will have to be ready to get take out boxes and bags or wrap up their food every time. Just to be clear all if this is totally ok if you are going to tip. Almost anything I s ok if you gonna tip. Do wat ever the fu ck u want if u gonna tip. If u not tippin get out dont come back

    3. Martin, you are full of crap. Try laying a few bucks on em a few times and un”disenfranchise” your mistreated ass. You created the problem, fix it…like the African kings and queens you say you are!

  4. I’m white and some of my best servers have been black. YES I have tipped them well. I have also had some shitty white servers at which I have not tipped well. Most of the time I have really good service at Mexican establishments. They seem to be always great servers too. To me it has nothing to do with race or color of your skin. Great service gets great tip in my book no matter who you are. One thing about the Asians not tipping well. It should be known that most Asian countries do not allow tipping so perhaps they are not use to tipping here. I was stationed in Japan and tipping was not allowed in that country.

  5. why cant we just all get along,,,,my skin is white ,,,i listen to Ray charlie,,,BB King…Howling Wolf,,Tina Turner..Snoop Doggy i can go on and on,,,and i sure miss Micheal Jackson,,the music he would of made if he was alive,,,i dont like some rap and Hip Hop,,,cause some times in some songs they sing about guns and violence…and the youth dont need that kinda teaching,,,l love everybody ,,,you no sometimes i might get upset and say ,,,stupid whop,,stupid mexican ,,stupid amarican ,,,stupid asian etc etc,,, but i dont mean it and i keep it to myself,,,i wish Obama was still in power in the whitehouse,,,we need someone to speak to the troubled minded ,,,dont carry guns and shoot kill ,,,and up with bars around you ,,,just lets all be good to each other ,,,,and try to make something out of your life ,,,if this coronavirus does not go away,,the world will become Mad Max,,,and the cops and army have guns and they gonna tell us ,,what we can and can not do,,,they mite just start shooting,,,,well b safe everyone EVERY LIFE MATTERS,,,,,,the cops 5 of them beat my friend to death in the 80s ,,,just cause he was a biker,,,the law should not have that power over us ,,,we can not protect ourselves from then,,,they have to change their ways,,,,GOD help us all ,,,,now sing and dance,,,and listen to my favorite song,,by Ray Charlie and Willie Nelson,,,,,,,,,,,SEVEN SPANISH ANGELS

  6. I’m black. Ive been serving for over 35 years. Upscale restaurants. I give superior service to all my guest. Black people are notorious for running the server in circles and leaving crumbs as a gratuity. We have to do better.

  7. Your “chicken or egg” part is completely wrong and so ignorant. I am a pizza delivery driver and I do not see my customer before I arrive, and I give everyone the same service. 80%+ of my stiffs are from Blacks. Some nights blacks are my only stiffs. Your article is just here to make other blacks feel better and try and manipulate other’s into thinking you are exempt from giving gratuity.

  8. I don’t think it’s a white or black thing. Theirs whites & blacks & that don’t tip. I tip a person by the service they provide. I have gotten some bad & good white & blacks waitress. I have seen many whites that don’t tip. I seen three white mens sitting to the table. The white lady waitress was awesome. On point with everything and they didn’t leave her a tip. So this is up to the individual. So people are just nasty and uptight.

  9. Honestly, I just people dont realize why!!! tipping is so important regardless of good or bad service. i have been a server all over the strip here in las vegas for almost 10 years. and I think people should know why servers get really pissed off when people dont tip. We as servers, have to tip out the rest of the restaurant at the end of the night. and when someone doesn’t leave a tip, that comes out of our pocket. We actually have to pay out of our pockets to everyone else like bussers, food runners, bartenders, abd so on and so forth. And that money that we tip everyone comes out of our tips. so, honestly, knowing this we should give no matter what! atleast 15-20 percent no matter what!!!!! you dont know that persons situation, and you not tipping takes money out of their pockets!!! So white! black! Asian! it doesnt matter……TIP YOUR FU&%ING SERVERS!!!!!! AND IF YOUR NOT GUNNA TIP, DONT GO OUT TO EAT….STAY HOME.

  10. I have been a waitress for over 20 years. I’ve worked in many different types of neighborhoods and scales of restaurants from country clubs to fast food. I give the same level of service to every person I wait on. I’ve been stiffed or given a VERY LOW tip by EVERY SINGLE African American customer I’ve ever served. Just today I had 2 tables with $60 checks. They both had my full attention and were both very nice to me. One was a family of Hispanic and white people, the others were black. The first table mentioned gave me $15 as a tip. The black couple (paying with an Amex black card, so clearly they have money) left me THREE DOLLARS. This happens daily. I would NEVER change the way I treat people because of this. The fact that I had to go into my own pocket for tip out (we pay 5% of our sales to bussers and runners plus an additional 1% to bartenders) for this table just kills me. I know most people would never want to serve African Americans after 20 years of this. I’m fed up, but I still do my job every day, even if I have to PAY for them to eat there.
    If you want people to stop using a stereotype, reverse it. Because in twenty years I haven’t been able to say “I was wrong”.

    1. I enjoyed your response to the article. My ex wife is a waitress and I used to hear all the stories and had to look at the look of disgust on her face every time she had to pay out her pocket. It is frustrating and not fair. I really feel that people don’t understand how restaurant policies are and how tips are shared. I do believe workers should be paid more and tips should be optional so the workers make a decent living, and the level of service should be used to further a workers career, not used as an incentive for better service.

  11. There are two types of people commenting on this article: Black people who want to feel better about their terrible tipping and servers who have been stiffed by black customers for seemingly no reason and want to understand why. It is a problem, and even if you see this as some sort of “big picture” issue that is not yours, be a decent person and tip your wait staff!

  12. I can’t say that all black customers don’t tip but it is definitely an unwritten rule of the culture. I have many amazing customers of color who consistently tip me fairly, but a majority do not. Recently i had one of my more regular non tippers take a job as a bus boy and quit the same day because i chose not to cut him a percentage of the tips. I used the opportunity to explain to him why he and his family should start tipping and he proceeded to yell at me saying that he, “Didn’t give a f*ck about my money but he needed to get paid.” before smashing some plates and walking out.

    1. We do not want to deal with large groups of trash! They don’t tip period! They consume restaurant resources and are always a problem! No one wants to deal with these problem “people”

  13. Jeff Thomas is full of bull crap, and he knows it. He wants to try to justify the fact that black patrons will stiff their waitstaff for great service and will run servers ragged and still not tip for good service. He wants everybody to use his EFFED UP “logic” , But we wont. We woke. You get woke too, Jeff. TIP TO CHANGE YOUR REP. It could start with you, “brother”.

  14. This article is perfect and the ignorance of the readers is what he is talking about. Black peoples get paid waaayyyy less than white people. So it is hard to tip when you are broke. You white people are just exaggerating. My blacks tip me when they can. Poor white people without teeth don’t tip. They way worse than black people. Watch out for poor white people with cavities and missing teeths. They don’t tip nothing

    1. If people can’t tip because they are broke, then stay home and cook. Don’t waste resources and waste the waiters time by dining in and not tipping. YOU’RE exaggerating. “My Blacks tip me when they can”, Translation: I give my homeboys discounts and the tip me through cash app on the next pay day, even though 80% of them forget to do it by then. “Poor whites without teeth” don’t eat at your “restaurant”. Stop getting in your feelings because waiters are telling the TRUTH about how bad blacks tip. You know its true.

  15. Brian Jones, if people don’t have money to tip, then they need to STAY HOME!! So that’s definitely not an excuse. No, black people don’t tip because they’re cheap, don’t care about other people, and think they’re getting revenge on “the man”. It’s pathetic and only harms their already shaky reputation in society. I’m not trying to be snarky here, but that’s simply the truth.

  16. I work as a host/busser in a restaurant and people on the comments are completely right. The vast majority of African American costumers tip from 0 to 10% of the bill. I watch all servers closely on a daily basis and I can guarantee that they receive the exact same excellent service as anybody else. I just cannot understand why they do this. Besides the low tips, they are way more demanding, 80% of them ask for plastic silverware (because they don’t want to use the ones that were washed in the same dishwasher as the plates…), they ask for to-go boxes but always leave them behind, always complain about everything to get a discount on the bill, leave the chairs and the floor full of food. I am an immigrant and had no idea about these racial biases, so I was genuinely curious and that’s how I ended up on this article. I agree with what someone wrote above: if you are not going to tip at least 18, 20%, stay at home or go to a fast food restaurant! Servers need to tip me out out of the total of the bill. When they are not tipped accordingly, they ended up paying us (hosts, bussers, etc) out of their own pockets.

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