Gratuity is a subject consistently discussed within the hospitality community. But could it be the end of tipping for Canadian restaurants? Professor Michael von Massow at the University of Guelph’s Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics gave Bill Tremblay of Canadian Restaurant News the dish.

According to von Massow, tipping will likely disappear within the next 10 to 20 years. He partnered with Bruce McAdams from U of G’s Department of Hospitality, Food & Tourism Management to study how tipping effects a restaurant’s operations. They interviewed 50 restaurant managers, 50 restaurant servers, and completed 160 online surveys with front-of-house staff across the country. Approximately 50% of the online surveys were from Ontario residents.

According to the study, tipping creates a wage disparity between the front-of-house and back-of-house employees. Many servers are making $15–20 an hour in tips, plus their hourly wage. Then you have cooks in the kitchen barely making minimum wage. This can create tension within the restaurant’s employee culture and therefore issues for management.

Tremblay notes that quality of service is also effected by gratuities, because servers can perceive if a guest is a big tipper or not, and will change the quality of their service depending on this. This can be a huge issue for restaurant owners who want to ensure that all guests who walk through their door receive the same quality of service.

Some restaurants are making the shift towards a mandatory gratuity, such as Earls in downtown Calgary, which now charges a mandatory 16% service fee. According to von Massow, some restaurants are making the shift and struggling, while others do the same and succeed.

Have you found mandatory gratuity to be successful at your restaurant? Let us know in the comments below!

Credit: Bill Tremblay for Canadian Restaurant News, “Tipping is on its way to extinction says U of G professor” 2016

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Lucy Cullen


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