tipping toronto

Two more restaurants in Toronto just got rid of tipping

More Toronto restaurants are following the lead of Richmond Station and banning tipping, which some say is an outdated practice.

Tipping has a racist history, and encourages worker exploitation, sexual harassment and racial profiling, so it's no surprise it's being challenged right now along with other long-held status quo practices, even down to library fees.

Richmond Station recently banned tipping and raised their prices, the cost of hospitality now incorporated. It didn't take long for Burdock and Ten to follow suit.

"There are other restaurants in Ontario that have gone to a hospitality included model a long time ago, like the Restaurant at Pearl Morissette. So far it's going well," says Matt Park, Burdock co-owner. "People seem to be receptive and appreciate why we're doing it."

IT’S PATIO BURGER TIME ! It’s official, our side patio is finally back open! You’re going to notice a couple of sweet new changes when you come by. First, there's no tipping! We’re going hospitality included for several important reasons: to provide a predictable living wage for our servers and kitchen staff during these unpredictable times, to avoid the race and gender prejudices that often come with tipping, and to limit back and forth with credit card machines for a safer patio experience. Second, we are on top of the safety guidelines: all staff will be wearing masks, a bounty of hand sanitizer is available, contact info is taken at the door, and we’ve built some lovely dividers between booths and seats (thanks Blair!). We've also launched a brand new super special short and sweet patio menu! Highlights included JUICY BURGER & FRIES (both meat and vegetable based) and ICE CREAM SANDWICHES! Come over! (no reservations - walk-ins only!)

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Burdock recently posted to social media, announcing, "We're going hospitality included for several important reasons: to provide a predictable living wage for our servers and kitchen staff during these unpredictable times, to avoid the race and gender prejudices that often come with tipping, and to limit back and forth with credit card machines for a safer patio experience."

"We know it might not be the right move for every bar, restaurant or brewery, but for us and our team it, made sense to go for it right now. We think that people, in general, have a bigger appetite for change right now and are more willing to accept new standards, especially when it comes to dining," says Park.

"The science says it's a bad move for business, but our team thinks that things are different now and that it will make us a stronger business, especially while things are so uncertain. It would be awesome if all restaurants could go hospitality included, but we recognize that might not be possible for everyone and respect that."

🍾We’re re-opening!🍾 We are now accepting in person dining bookings from August 19th onwards. Due to COVID-19, ten will be running a little bit differently than before. To read up on all of the changes please head to our website. We will only be accepting 6 guests staggered throughout the night so don’t delay in booking your seats now! A couple things to note: This decision to re-open has been made in consultation with our entire staff who have made it clear that they feel comfortable returning to work. We have also decided to eliminate tipping and will be charging a untaxed flat 18% service charge onto each table. This service charge will be split evenly between our BOH and FOH. Looking forward to hosting you soon ❤️📸 @johnnytrouble___ . . . . . #toronto #finedining #yyz #food #reopening #vegetables #tastingmenu #lessismore

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Ten Restaurant made a similar post to social media around the same time, announcing both that they'd be reopening Aug. 19 and doing tipping differently. Previously they'd charged an automatic 18 per cent gratuity for groups larger than six and split tips between the front and back of house.

Tips will still be split between front and back but Ten will now be "adding a flat untaxed 18 per cent service charge onto each bill no matter the size of the group," says chef-owner Julian Bentivegna. "Guests will no longer be required to leave a tip and the end of their meal."

He says the decision "takes away the punitive facet of tipping which is deeply flawed....allows my staff to accurately predict how much they will be making each week, month and year....allows them to have the same amount of un-taxed portion of their income similar to a normal tip out system....[and is] completely transparent and trackable."

Bentivegna also rightly points out, "You're going out to eat in a pandemic. The people serving you deserve every bit of that 18 per cent." 

He feels that his customers already, fortunately, expect to tip when they're out to dine, and are aware of the gourmet multi-course tasting menu experience they'll receive at his ten-seat restaurant, so are more than happy to tip the 18 per cent under normal circumstances and are transitioning smoothly into not tipping.

"Although we haven't reopened yet the response to us choosing to implement this has been overwhelmingly positive," says Bentivegna.

"To me it really doesn't seem like too radical of a change, my hope is that after people get comfortable with this, we will be able to scrap a service charge completely and just increase our menu prices by 18 per cent and then pass that 18 per cent into higher salaries for all of our staff."

Although he now owns his own place, the young chef strives never to forget his roots as a cook and the overwhelming inequities he often experienced in that role, working long hours for unfair pay and meagre tip-outs that didn't reflect his contributions.

"For example at one well-known restaurant here in Toronto, I was paid $120 a day before tax for 14 hour days, five days a week. This is not an exaggeration, I would arrive at 10 a.m. and be lucky to leave before midnight. We would maybe get $200 out of the tip pool each month," says Bentivegna.

"I always found it depressingly funny when I would be told to put more caviar onto a guest's dish when the scoop that was already on the plate was worth more than two hours of my time. This industry needs to change and as long as I have a platform I will be trying to change it for the better."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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