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This Guy Is Sharing How Much Money He Makes As A Fine Dining Waiter, And It Is Opening A Conversation About Tipping In America

Kyle Zajac is a server at an upscale steakhouse who recently went viral for sharing how lucrative his job can be:

"Guys, this is why you need to get into fine dining serving. Tonight I am only getting sat with three tables — they came in at six o'clock, seven o'clock, and six thirty."

Hand over a receipt, highlighting high cost of dining, with text "FINE DINING = $300+ NIGHT ONLY 3 TABLES"
@kyleazajac / tiktok.com

"Look at their checks: $800, $350, and $620. That's about $1,800 in sales for only three tables," he says in the TikTok. Kyle goes on to share that he received a total of $363.59 in tips during his five-hour shift.

Receipt showing a total of $60.50 with a section titled "TIPS & FEES EARNED" displaying zero dollars earned
@kyleazajac / tiktok.com

So, he made about $72 an hour.

Comment exchange about top waiters earning over 10k a month after taxes
@kyleazajac / tiktok.com

And some people were surprised to realize that the payout in fine dining can go much higher.

"my highest shift at my fine dining job was walking with $1300 after Tipout. best day ever!"
@kyleazajac / tiktok.com

There were a lot of people in the comments sharing just how much they were making as servers.

"I serve at a hotel early mornings 5-12 noon full time between $300-$800 a day five times a week it's my addiction"
@kyleazajac / tiktok.com

And how much they enjoy the profession!

A social media post by Eric Anthony saying, "I used to think fine dining wasn't for me when I worked at a casual restaurant. Never looking back!"
@kyleazajac / tiktok.com

However, it's important to note that these figures are based on tips only. According to the US Department of Labor, the employer of a tipped employee is only required to pay $2.13 per hour in direct wages if that amount combined with the tips received equals the federal minimum wage.

Hand receiving cash inside a bill, symbolizing financial transaction for a meal
Flashpop / Getty Images

To put things into perspective — and emphasize how important tipping is — one mom went mega-viral a few years ago after sharing that her paycheck for a 70-hour work week was only $9 after taxes.

Article headline about Aaliyah Cortez sharing a $9 paycheck after working over 70 hours to highlight service industry issues

That being said, 66% of Americans have a negative viewpoint when it comes to tipping, according to Bankrate, and that number keeps decreasing every year. Experts agree that 20% is the minimum appropriate amount for standard tipped workers.

"Just depends on the restaurant and how it's run"
@kyleazajac / tiktok.com

BuzzFeed spoke to Kyle who weighed in, saying that if people didn't tip, there wouldn't be any incentive for him to perform his job well or go above and beyond for the customer. "When you remove tipping, it also removes the emotional connection you find when you go out to eat. If restaurant owners were required to give their servers a ‘flat dollar rate,’ there would be an obvious pay deduction, and it would be harder to find quality servers. In addition to a menu price increase, it would likely result in fewer servers working per shift which means slower and less tailored service," he said.

Kyle Zajac on the job, posing with customers
Kyle Zajac

Kyle has been serving since he was 18. "I realized serving was the highest-paying gig I could get at the time. I knew I had the personality and patience suited to be a server rather than just an 'order taker.' From there, I quickly realized how much fun I had being a waiter," he said, adding that he dropped out of college to make this his career.

Server in suit presents a gourmet plated dish
Solstock / Getty Images

"At my upscale steakhouse, the clientele usually consists of businesspeople who are very accustomed to professional service and love to tip for great service! The biggest tip I have ever gotten was $1,200 on an eight-top."

At Kyle's current job, he said he can easily make over six figures on 30-hour workweeks, but the best part is he enjoys what he does. "It’s so exciting to connect with people from all over the country, even the world. You can also be surprised about the connections you can meet! I have ZERO college debt. Plus, I am doing a job I actually love," he concluded.

Kyle Zajac taking a selfie with actor Rob Schneider