Tipping at Fast Food Restaurants: An Anomaly During the Pandemic?

Eric Newman, PhD


During the COVID-19 pandemic many restaurants were closed for indoor dining.  They had to survive by providing limited outdoor dining, takeout, delivery services, or drive thru window service.  Fast food restaurants already had counter take out service and drive thru serviceas their main distribution method for delivering their meals to consumers. Drive thru dining is generally associated with fast food restaurants which can prepare food within just minutes.  The pandemic pushed diners to utilize drive thru restaurants which suddenly caused longer lines with unfamiliar waiting times and causing more mistakes. Many fastfood restaurants modified their menus to accommodate the increased drive thru traffic and needed efficiency.  The tipping study looked at the consumers who tipped prior to the pandemic and during.  The study showed a significant increase in tipping of fast food restaurant workers both at the pickup counters and drive thru windows.