Standard tip in Toronto restaurants now 20 per cent
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.