Chili Server pointing at bartender; Chili's restaurant logo front

@kaitlinlagoe/TikTok Eric Broder Van Dyke/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘I get to keep $1’: Waitress reveals how Chili’s servers really get tipped out after your meal

'im lucky to even have $11 hourly….'


Jack Alban


Posted on Aug 19, 2023

TikToker and Chili’s Server Kaitlin LaGoe (@kaitlinlagoe) is again giving fans a day-in-the-life glimpse of “worklife” inside the fast casual restaurant chain.

The Daily Dot’s own Phil West covered a previous TikTik video from Kaitlin chronicling a Sunday night at Chili’s and giving viewers an inside scoop of exactly how many tips she made on tables served.

This time, in a video with over 5,000 views, Kaitlin gave her viewers a breakdown of exactly how the tipping system at Chili’s works. She opens the video speaking directly to camera, “OK, I’m coming on here to explain the Chili’s tip-out system for waitresses, waiters, all servers… to see how low tips screw over your servers so bad.” 

In the subtitle of the video, Kaitlin explains, “5% tip out of the server’s total sales not of total tips, 1% goes to the bartender, 4% goes to food runners because chilis also only pays them $2.13/hour and our tips have to cover the rest!”

OK, that’s perhaps a lot of information to swallow at once, and not quite as delicious as swallowing Chili’s Skillet Queso Dip. But Kaitlin breaks it down, using an $81.95 total bill with a $5 tip as an example. 

@kaitlinlagoe 5% tip out of the server’s total sales not of total tips, 1% goes to the bartender, 4% goes to food runners because chilis also only pays them 2.13/hr and our tips have to cover the rest!!! @Chili’s Grill & Bar #tipthebill #chilis #server #chilisserver ♬ original sound – Kaitlin LaGoe

“In the state of North Carolina, you get $2.13/hr… That’s it, everything else comes from tips,” she says direct to camera. She continues, showing the aforementioned check on her system, which reveals a $5 tip on the entire $81.95 check. “What’s even more terrible is 5% of that 81, I have to give back to the restaurant. Five percent of 80 is around $4. So, of that $5 tip on the $80 bill, I have to give up $4. I get to keep $1 of that tip.”

Chili’s system requires servers to give up 5% of the total sale of each individual check, she says, not 5% of each tip, to be pooled by other front-of-house staff and divided up.   

In essence, what she’s describing is tip-pooling. This is where a certain percentage of tips are divided amongst restaurant staff members who directly support the server is servicing a table. In this case bartenders and food runners. At Chili’s, tipped employees share their tips with other workers who provided direct customer service. So, Kaitlin is saying that if you give her a skimpy tip, most of that money is going to her supporting staff, and not going directly into her pocket.

In North Carolina, where Kaitlin resides, the average tip at a fine dining establishment is 20.1% and 16.7% at quick service restaurants. Chili’s falls somewhere in the middle but more on the casual side. 

Users in Kaitlin’s previous video were encouraging her to switch restaurants to make more money. One user echoed this sentiment on her new video, “Girlll f*ck chilies I use to work there and the food runners were a*s!” Another Chili’s server in the comments commiserated with Kaitlin, “I work at one in las vegas. tip out is horrible…im lucky to even have $11 hourly….”  

We think it may be time for Kaitlin to live by lyrics of the ’90s dance pop classic “Moving on Up” by M People: “’Cause I’m… Movin’ on up, nothin’ can stop me. Movin’ on up, you’re movin’ on out. Time to break free, nothin’ can stop me.” 

Chili’s is owned by Brinker International which also owns Maggiano’s Little Italy. The website displays juicy steaks, lobsters, and pasta. Surf and turf? Definitely fine dining which means higher total checks. Perhaps Kaitlin should throw her name in the hat over there?  

The Daily Dot has reached out to Kaitlin via TikTok comment and Brinker International via email for further information.

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*First Published: Aug 19, 2023, 4:38 am CDT