Tips and Appearance: An Experiment at Orlando’s

By Kelsee Pitman

Does dressing professionally improve or hurt waiters’ and waitresses’ tips? Callie Davis and Travis Barker, Texas Tech students who work at Orlando’s, agreed to count their tips to help answer that question.


What the employees wear at Orlando’s. Kelsee Pitman/The Hub@TTU

Employees at Orlando’s have to wear jeans, a branded shirt and nonslip shoes. This professional uniform helps level the playing field in terms of appearance.

This is important because beautiful people are known to make about 12 percent more money than less attractive people, according to Tech Insider.

According to a Cornell University study, “people value the approval of attractive individuals more than that of less attractive individuals, so consumers may tip attractive servers more than unattractive ones.”

With all this in mind, the experiment began on April 28.

That day, Davis worked from 5 to 9 p.m. and earned $90. Barker worked from 5 to 8 p.m. and made $50. To sum it up, Davis worked an hour longer, but also made $40 more.

The following weekend, both worked the same number of hours. Davis made $252 in tips, and Barker made $185.

During the weekend of May 6, Davis made $210, and Barker made $174.

“After seeing the difference … I was shocked,” Davis said. “I always assumed it was just how well you treated the customers, but maybe that is not the case. Either way, I think that people should tip on how well the service was, not by people’s gender.”

tip graph

Some people believe women get more tips because male customers find them attractive or that they make themselves attractive to earn more tips.

In so-called $2.13 states, including Texas, where servers have to live off tips, the culture of sexual harassment from customers has been found to be especially prevalent.

According to the “Glass Floor” report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, female tipped workers in states with a $2.13 subminimum wage are three times more likely to experience a demand from management to sexualize their behavior than are women in other states.

Added Barker: “In a society where sex sells best, and a generation where men generally pay the tab, girls often receive a higher percentage of their tips rather than guys.”

About JOUR 4350

JOUR 4350 is the multiplatform news delivery class, which is the capstone class for journalism majors within the College of Media & Communication.


  1. Orlando's Customer says:

    I had Travis Barker as a waiter at Orlando’s and I have to say I was not pleased. When ordering a certain spicy appetizer he acted like it was ridiculous that I would want something so spicy. He patronized me over wanting it to be spicy and seemed like he thought a girl like me couldn’t handle it. I found it offensive and it affected his tip. Honestly, this article is lacking. The “experiment” fails to recognize many factors that could have impacted the amount of tips received. Maybe Callie has been working longer and has regulars. Maybe she doesn’t patronize female guests over ordering spicy food. Maybe Travis is new and doesn’t know the menu as well. Maybe Callie is more friendly and attentive. And the chart is ridiculous as it does not show how long Callie and Travis worked each day (like April 28th). The numbers are essentially useless without that information. The article has potential to study an interesting topic but fails to examine the reasoning behind the issue or give a fair experiment. You can’t base the information published in the article with just two waiters at one restaurant, especially without comparing hours and effort exactly the same way.

%d bloggers like this: