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Thread: Restaurant Tipping Etiquette

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Toronto, Montreal
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    Default Restaurant Tipping Etiquette

    So I'm sure many of you have read some of the articles this week highlighting a couple of local diners increasing their standard tip from 15% to 20%.

    Toronto Star:
    Standard tip in Toronto restaurants now 20 per cent

    Published On Mon Jan 16 2012

    Amy Pataki
    Restaurant Critic

    A 20 per cent tip could be the new normal.

    A small but growing number of Toronto restaurants are urging customers to tip more than the customary 15 per cent.

    Diners at new Roncesvalles Ave. restaurants The Westerly and The Ace are prompted to tip 20 per cent on their bill when paying with credit and debit cards on handheld terminals.

    “We feel we are providing great service. Waiters don’t get paid too much,” said Tom Earl, co-owner of The Westerly.

    Machines are programmed to accept tips as a dollar amount or as a percentage of the bill after tax. Customers can change the suggested percentage.

    The Ace changed its payment processing company to one with that would allow the restaurant to increase the tip prompt.

    “Our first credit card machine would not allow us to change from a 15 per cent tip prompt. With 15 per cent as a suggested gratuity, it is no surprise that many of our patrons chose this option,” said Greg Boggs, co-owner of The Ace.

    “It’s not a sneaky thing nor is it an expectation. I always tip at least 20 per cent when I go out.”

    So does Aaron Boros, a diner who found service at The Ace in early January “outstanding” and tipped his customary 20 per cent. Still, “I thought it was a bit presumptuous,” Boros said about the new prompt.

    Of course, tipping isn’t a science. While a 15 per cent tip is standard in Toronto, diners will adjust upwards or downwards depending on the level of attentiveness, cost of wine ordered and size of the check. Restaurateurs contacted by the Star say diners tip a higher percentage on low guest checks.

    Other diners have praised the shift towards the Manhattan standard.

    “About time,” tweeted Mike Christie of Toronto. “It’s customary in other big cities, like New York. Regardless, (the) customer needs options. Why not just get them to enter in the desired percentage?”

    The upward shift isn’t confined to Roncesvalles. The wireless machines at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Liberty Village are programmed for 18 per cent.

    At Milagro’s three locations, prompts are for 16, 20 and 30 per cent, the latter for larger parties.

    “We felt (16 per cent) was a new minimum,” said Milagro co-owner Andres Anhalt.

    “Twenty per cent is average for most tables. We believe it’s a direct result of being truly happy with the service.”

    At The Westerly, recently reviewed for its knowledgeable service, tips are also averaging 20 per cent.

    “I haven’t had a single complaint about the prompt,” said co-owner Earl.

    In 2010, then-MPP David Caplan introduced a controversial bill to end the automatic gratuities, like the 18 per cent commonly levied on large restaurant tables. The bill has since died.
    National Post:
    Here’s a tip: It’s now 20% gratuity whether you liked it or not

    National Post Staff Jan 17, 2012 – 12:02 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 17, 2012 10:56 AM ET

    By Nida Siddiqui and Tristin Hopper

    TORONTO • In a New York-style bid to loosen diners’ purse strings, Toronto’s standard gratuity rate appears poised for a 33% increase.

    The Westerly and The Ace, two new restaurants in the city’s west end, have begun prompting their customers to pay a 20% gratuity when paying on handheld electronic terminals.

    “Nobody’s demanding that anybody tip anything…. It’s a personal decision. If [customers] want to, they can. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to,” said Tom Earl, co-owner of the Westerly, adding that tipping is something best kept between a customer and a waiter.

    But a Toronto-based etiquette expert says 20% is too much. “If you start to slide the requirement for tipping up to 20% and everybody wants that and expects that as their base tipping, where does it end?” said Linda Allan. “Do the really great [restaurants] now want 25%?”

    In oil-rich Calgary, diners are known to plunk down a pair of $20 bills on bills as low as $32. “Eighteen to 20% is easily the norm. Some people tip 25%. … I don’t know anybody who tips 10% anymore. Fifteen per cent is the bottom line here,” Janet Watson, an Alberta-based etiquette expert, told Postmedia News before Christmas.

    Robbie Kane, operating manager of Cafe Medina in Vancouver, said his restaurant assigns automatic 18% gratuities to groups of eight. During the Olympics, there were wide-ranging reports of Vancouver restaurants and bars adding automatic 20% gratuities to restaurant bills.

    Members of Toronto’s serving community have praised the move, noting that 20% tips are “customary” in large U.S. cities such as New York. But while Toronto servers earn a minimum hourly wage of $8.90, waiters in the Big Apple only earn $4.65 per hour “because their total compensation includes expected tips,” according to the New York State Department of Labour.

    Federally, U.S. employers can legally pay restaurant staff as little as $2.13 an hour.
    Canadian servers also benefit from the country’s relatively high sales taxes. Generally, gratuities should be paid on the pre-tax subtotal of a bill, but many electronic debit machines calculate a gratuity on top of sales tax. In Ontario, where HST on restaurant meals is 13%, a diner tipping 15% will unwittingly pay an extra 97¢ of tip on a bill of $50. Servers are notorious for “lowballing” their tips come tax season, so much of the income from gratuities may well be coming tax-free.

    However, servers often complain of having their tip revenue docked by “tip-outs”; mandatory payments of up to 4% of tips to kitchen staff and hostesses. In October 2010, Ontario MPP Michael Prue put forward a private member’s bill calling for the abolition of tip-outs. “This is an unfair practice and it must be stopped,” said Mr. Prue at the time.

    While customers may often feel obliged to tip servers because of their low wages, Michaela Boehm, dining room manager at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Toronto, sees it a different way. “I believe the wage is so low because of the tip, not the other way around. If the tip would not exist, I truly believe the wage would be higher.”
    What does everyone else on UT feel would be appropriate and what are your own personal tipping etiquettes that you follow? I typically tip at 15% rounded up to the nearest dollar but I've definitely tipped much more than that as well, depending on the service. Similarly, I've tipped less due to unsatisfactory service too, which thankfully doesn't happen too often.


  2. #2

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    I always tip on the subtotal, but tip on the high side, usually 18-20% of the pre-tax amount, or more depending. I don't think taxes should be in any tip calculation.

    $1 for a drink at a bar is always a good rule of thumb.

    As for take-out, I usually avoid tipping, unless some real work is involved in completing my order (a speciality drink, for example).

  3. #3

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    What should the amount on the bottom of the bill have to do with the amount of the tip? The customer is tipping for service not the quality of the meal or the ambience, you already paid for that.
    The waiter at Swiss Chalet makes as much effort on your behalf as her counterpart at the fanciest place in town but has to be happy with 15% of $30.00 rather than 15% of $200.00. $4.50 for her, $30.00 for him, is that fair? The local car wash charges the same price for a Hyundai as a Lamborghini, which they should as the effort expended in rendering the service is the same.

  4. #4

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    ^ I apply different standards of expectations to the services that I receive at high-end vs mid-range restaurants. At a Swiss Chalet I'm expecting my food to come out warm, and my water glass to be refilled when empty. If I'm sitting down to a $200 meal the server had better be stepping it up in terms of clearing the table, timing the dishes, refilling that water glass before its empty, etc, etc etc.

    If the service goes unnoticed (that is, at no point did I ask myself where my server was) I'll usually round the after-tax total up to the nearest dollar and apply 15% to that, then round up again to the nearest dollar. I think it usually works out close to 18-20%. If I do notice the service I'll adjust accordingly. It's very rare that I won't tip at all, but if I've had an unusually bad experience I won't leave anything.

    If an establishment has an enforced minimum gratuity (whether it's 15% or 18% or 20%) that's all I'll leave, on principle. If they won't leave me the option of giving less I refuse to exercise my option to give more.

    The real dilemma is what to do when the service is acceptable but the food is awful. I feel bad punishing the waiter for the kitchen's error, but also feel like a chump having to leave a tip on a bill for a meal I didn't enjoy.

  5. #5

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    At casual restaurants I'll tip around 15% of the total after tax amount, maybe a little more or less to round things to a dollar, if I'm paying with cash. If it's inexpensive but still a full meal (like breakfast), I'll tip higher.
    At more formal restaurants, I will tip 15 to 20% depending on what is ordered, how long I stay and what level of service I get. If it's a quick lunch order for the daily special with no alcohol, it will be 15. At dinner time, I will tip up to 20 if the service is good, especially if there are multiple courses ordered or I'm with a group of more than 4.
    If wine or alcohol is involved it gets tricky. I don't like to pay 20% tip on the cost of wine I pick out myself that is already marked up 500%, but I will tip something and will tip much more when I ask for a wine recommendation (and get a good one). Well made cocktails deserve a good tip. Simple mixed drinks deserve a dollar each.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by spider View Post
    What should the amount on the bottom of the bill have to do with the amount of the tip? The customer is tipping for service not the quality of the meal or the ambience, you already paid for that.
    The waiter at Swiss Chalet makes as much effort on your behalf as her counterpart at the fanciest place in town but has to be happy with 15% of $30.00 rather than 15% of $200.00. $4.50 for her, $30.00 for him, is that fair? The local car wash charges the same price for a Hyundai as a Lamborghini, which they should as the effort expended in rendering the service is the same.
    This is an interesting point and one that many people assimilate with real estate agents as well. Why is the tip or commission tied directly to the price of bread, so to speak. With real estate, this is one of the reasons the commission structures were forced to change. It doesn't appear the food service industry has adopted this mindthought though. Myself, personally, I still use the 15% on the sub-total (pre-tax) and adjust according to the service, not the quality of the food, however I think this is definitely a good point.

  7. #7
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    I've always tipped 15% (or more when service is really great) on the total, after tax. On rare occasions if I have a crappy server who screws things up, isn't friendly, is not carrying out their duties I won't tip at all. I was at the Pickle Barrel in the Atrium with a friend in early December. It wasn't busy, we felt like we were inconveniencing the waiter who was really unfriendly and our food arrived barely warm. I could see from where I was sitting that he was spending more time talking to the hostess than he did at any of the four or five tables that he had. He never asked if we wanted dessert (we didn't) and we were just randomly presented with the bill when we were finished the meal. I also had to ask two additional times for the glass of water that I ordered with the meal, I must have water with dinner. No tip.
    I think moving up to 20% is too much though it could be suggested where the gratuities are indicated on the menu if service is exceptional consider leaving 20% instead of 15%.
    “Our roads are not here for automobiles. Our roads are here for people to get around.” - Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City - July 10, 2012

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  8. #8

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    I need to start waiting tables.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ShonTron View Post
    I always tip on the subtotal, but tip on the high side, usually 18-20% of the pre-tax amount, or more depending. I don't think taxes should be in any tip calculation.

    $1 for a drink at a bar is always a good rule of thumb.

    As for take-out, I usually avoid tipping, unless some real work is involved in completing my order (a speciality drink, for example).

    I do 15% over the tax, depending on service. As for $1 for bar service, I do that too, but sometimes feel that I'm over-tipping. I mean, if the drink was $5, I'd be tipping 20% for one drink!
    Founder & Webitor-in-Chief of DelectablyChic! (formerly Prospere Magazine), an online-only lifestyle publication targeting young, hip professional women.

  10. #10

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    I always tip 10 to 20% because waiters are always nice to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by ShonTron View Post
    I always tip on the subtotal, but tip on the high side, usually 18-20% of the pre-tax amount, or more depending. I don't think taxes should be in any tip calculation.

    $1 for a drink at a bar is always a good rule of thumb.

    As for take-out, I usually avoid tipping, unless some real work is involved in completing my order (a speciality drink, for example).

  11. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ShonTron View Post
    I always tip on the subtotal, but tip on the high side, usually 18-20% of the pre-tax amount, or more depending. I don't think taxes should be in any tip calculation.

    $1 for a drink at a bar is always a good rule of thumb.

    As for take-out, I usually avoid tipping, unless some real work is involved in completing my order (a speciality drink, for example).
    Exactly. I usually tip (18-20%) on the final post-tax price. I've been told that one should tip pre-tax, but I keep on forgetting. Lol.

    Definitely a loonie per drink at a bar.

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