2021 has been a big year for tipping in restaurants. Picture: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio
2021 has been a big year for tipping in restaurants. Picture: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

How 2021 has been a big year for tipping in the restaurant industry

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Nov 18, 2021

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Last year, when most of the country was under lockdown, essential workers were celebrated as South African heroes.

They were applauded for risking their lives to take care of others and to keep the economy running.

This attention was eagerly extended to those in food service jobs that are traditionally overlooked and under-appreciated.

Under quarantine, the thinking went, people could no longer take for granted the fast-food workers, kitchen staff, and delivery drivers who help transport food and other necessities to their doorsteps.

Customers were encouraged to generously tip these workers – at minimum 20 percent, and even more, if they were able – and people did just that. In fact, 2021 has been a big year for tipping in restaurants.

Customers went above and beyond when tipping, sometimes giving tips that rocket past 20 percent, and into the 200 percent territory and beyond. This year saw a lot of genuinely kind tippers – mostly anonymous people, here’s a list of them.

Simply Asia

In August, a customer left a R6 000 tip at Simply Asia, a restaurant based in Durbanville, in the Western Cape, to be shared among staff.

The incident created a stir on the internet after it was shared on the Facebook page of the restaurant.

According to Simply Asia’s group general manager, Enzo Cocca, the family are regular patrons at the restaurant and asked their waitress for recommendations for meals.

They ordered two six-piece combo platters, fried rice roasted chilli with ground cashews, roasted chilli paste and cashew nut noodles, tom yum soup, brinjal stir-fry, and a Coke.

Cocca said the company is extremely appreciative and grateful for the family’s kind gesture.

“This has already motivated our staff to work harder and stay positive, especially in these tough, troubling times,” Cocca said. He said the only request the customer had was to have the tip evenly distributed.


Earlier this year, another anonymous customer left a R1 300 tip for a worker named Sidu Hlengwa, at Panarottis, in Amanzimtoti, in Durban.

Hlengwa’s waitressing job at the restaurant was a temporary enterprise, after finishing her teaching degree.

But little did she know that her excellent service would be rewarded by an anonymous diner.

Taking to Facebook group #ImStaying, her sister Alungile alerted online users to the spirit of ubuntu, after a customer left a R1 340 tip for her sister – after their bill came to just under R660.

DC Coffee Co

Another occasion, when a big tip was left, took place at DC Coffee Co, a coffee shop based in Fourways, in Johannesburg.

The coffee shop was tipped with R6 700 by the Xpertek Contact company directors.

In a Facebook post, DC Coffee Co narrated how it was just a normal day, and R6 700 was surprisingly gifted to them.


Last year, pizza restaurant Massimo's in Hout Bay, Cape Town, received R4 000 from a diner as a contribution to the restaurant’s “Pay It Forward” campaign which assists people of the Hout Bay area and organisations in need.

The diner stopped in for dinner and his bill was R415. But instead of leaving a 10% tip, he made a R4 000 contribution.

This year another generous diner left R20 000 to help the restaurant keep staff on.

According to Cape Town Etc, the money was split amongst all Massimo staff and played an important role in their financial security during the lockdown, which hit the restaurant industry hard.

Pecanwood Boat Club restaurant

Employees at Hartbeespoort Dam’s Pecanwood Boat Club restaurant also became R6 000 richer after an anonymous customer’s generous tip.

In August, an anonymous customer, who is a resident of Pecanwood and a regular customer, left a whopping R85 000 tip to be split among the employees.

General manager of the Pecanwood Estate Homeowners Association Morne Botha said the customer was a humble and caring individual who wanted to support the industry in the trying times of Covid-19.

Botha said the generous gesture had left him speechless for a while as people did not always understand how hard it was to manage other people, especially if you knew their livelihoods were in your hands.

Delfino's Restaurant

Last week, the staff at Delfino's Restaurant in Mossel Bay were surprised when a customer left a tip worth more than 27 times the cost of the bill.

The customer, Marcia Kimpton, who is an American producer and actress, had ordered a couple of starters, mains, and cocktails at the restaurant.

Kimpton’s bill was R3 454. She left the staff a tip of R94 486.

In an interview with Algoa FM, the waiter, Zathan McCarthy, said he had decided to share his tip with his colleagues.

According to the Eastern Cape-based radio station, McCarthy said Kimpton told him that she was going to bless him and then asked him if he would then be able to bless someone else.

In response, McCarthy said he was raised to be mindful of others and not selfish and decided to share the tip with his colleagues.

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