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%.
National Post:Standard tip in Toronto restaurants now 20 per cent
Published On Mon Jan 16 2012
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.
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.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.”