45 Minutes Is The Ideal Meal Length For Servers' Tips

Lingerers. They're a pain for busy servers who are trying to "flip" a table that's done eating so they can seat another party. But tables who are seated longer also tend to tip more; so, what's the ideal time frame?

An analysis by Upserve, a restaurant point-of-sale company, found that 45 minutes is the optimal length of time a table should be seated before their tips-to-time ratio falls off. First reported by Nation's Restaurant News, the analysis shows that: "The average tip increased with time spent at the table, up until about the 40- to 50-minute mark. Likewise, meal costs tended to flatline after guests had spent around 30 to 40 minutes at the table."

A group that sticks around for 80 minutes sees its average meal cost increase from $88.39 at 40 minutes to $123.45 at 80 minutes, but the revenue they generate drops from $2.21 per minute to $1.54 per minute between the 40- to 80-minute period. So while they're still generating money for the restaurant and server, the 80-minute-long table would be more profitable if it was replaced with another table just beginning its meal.

The report drew data from thousands of restaurants and millions of meals, Upserve's director of PR and communications Carol Lin Vieira tells The Takeout, including quick-service, fast-casual and full-service restaurants.

Another interesting fact from the report: The national average tipping rate is around 15 percent, with higher rates in the South and Northeast as compared to the Midwest and West, according to NRN. See the chart below for the breakdown, and hey Midwest/West, maybe let's pony up another couple bucks—especially if you've been hogging that table for two hours.