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How much do you tip in Toronto restaurants?

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Out of curiosity, what do you normally tip at various restaurants in the city? It used to be 10-15%, now I believe 15-20% is the new standard. I've typically found 20% to be on the high side, unless the service is truly outstanding, but don't know if I'm alone.

For comparison, would your tip be different if you went to a casual place (ie. $20 per person), vs a formal place (ie. $100/pp) vs a really expensive all-in chef's menu (ie. $150+/pp)?

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  1. It really depends on the place. If it's somewhere I frequent every couple of weeks, it's at minimum 20%, all the way up to 40% depending on the service and what we've ordered. If it's at any chain, usually 15% - same goes for new restaurants.

    Always a penny and smiley face drawn on the bill for bad service, which is thankfully very rare, and confined to chains.

    1. Usually 20%, but it really depends on a number of factors... for example, tipping more if bringing your own wine.

      1. In my opinion 10% is absurd unless the service was really bad. 15% is still lowballing it a little, although adequate I suppose. I always tip out 20% (disclaimer-I know people in the industry, how hard they work and the bullshit they put up with sometimes). If the service is exceptional, I will go as high as 25%, but that's rare.

        If the service is truly horrific (as in rude) then I leave nothing. That's happened once or twice in Toronto. It should not matter whether the place is casual or upscale. Service is service, no matter where you are. That being said, the exception for me is to tip out extra for wine service in higher end establishments as well.


        1. Agree, I used to be a 15%er but now I generally tip the full 20% after taxes, or $2 on each $10, rounded up or down a bit depending on what denominations of cash I have. I tend to frequent the same few places over and over and the staff recognize me. I'm of the opinion that if you can't afford to tip decently you can't afford to eat out, or should eat out somehwere a bit cheaper. In general serving staff work very hard for low pay and they put up with a lot of crap. I hate dining with people who nitpick service looking for excuses to lower their tip. Ugh.

          However I do agree that in the case of absolutely horrible service (willfully negligent, insulting, rude, etc.) you shouldn't tip. But you can't just leave a tiny or no tip and leave anonymously. You need to communicate your displeasure (preferably politely) to the server or manager and explain why you are unhappy so they know what the problem was. If you say nothing and then rip them on the tip they will simply assume you are just cheap and then continue to give the same poor service to others. Nobody wins there.

          Thankfully, I rarely if ever receive that sort of terrible service. Usually if things are a bit slow or mistakes are made I can see that there's a reason, like a very packed and understaffed restaurant, so I try to be understanding and not hold it against my server.

          1. I'm curious if other diners are calculating the tip on the total food and drink cost, or the total after all taxes? I base the tip on the amount I spend BEFORE any taxes. I've also noticed that some places are calculating the tip and adding it to the bill even when there are only four or five diners. We typically tip from 15% to 22% of the pre-tax bill, but sometimes more.

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodyDudey

              I think the general rule is on the pre-tax portion (including drinks and everything). Not sure why you would tip someone on the tax that the government gets.

            2. Same as I tip in every other North American city. Why "Toronto"?

              3 Replies
              1. re: John Manzo

                Tips percentages in Canada have typically lagged behind those in the US, though Toronto's have generally been higher than those in smaller cities, plus Ontario has a different minimum wage for tipped workers than untipped workers, which not all provinces do. It's not unreasonable to imagine people in Toronto tip higher than people in other Canadian cities on average, nor that they might be lower on average than people in other American cities.

                1. re: Jacquilynne

                  Ontario does this?! I'm shocked. I thought Ontario was progressive. There is no American-style two-tier minimum wage in Alberta.

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    There is now. Minimum wage is lower (not by much) for ppl who serve alcohol in Alberta.

              2. I tip 15% on subtotal. I've never been wow-ed by service to go over that.

                I've left less than 15% many a time - including 10 cents the other night at the Rhino.

                1. I am surprised at the poster who left 10cents at the rhino...i'm sure the service was much worse...you should have left a nickel.

                  In any case, I tend to tip $20% on expected level of service and product (for easy math I take the total-after taxes...and double it and then round up to the nearest dollar.

                  less than expected levels of service and product usually get about 10 percent and a conversation as to the problems experienced. it is truly horrific then pretty much nothing.

                  i can go as high as 30 percent (total times 3), but that is rare..but i appreciate when all those service and quality standards are exceeded

                  1. I know I'll get flamed for this, but I think you're crazy to tip more than 15% of the pre-tax bill for good service. I know of many young people that upon getting their degree "can't afford" -their words - to leave their restaurant job to get employment in their field of study. One associate was telling me about his son who was waiting in a high-end restaurant and making more than a top-of scale teacher and darned close to his uncle, a university professor. (He quoted his son as saying it was truly insane how much some rich folks will leave as a tip.) On top of it, only a fraction was being declared for tax purposes. My son's girlfriend who works in a chain resto considers $100 for a midweek evening to be a slow night.

                    When I was young, 10% was the norm and we still made more than our friends with non-restaurant jobs. Just because the cost of living has risen over time, doesn't mean that the RATE for a tip has to go up. The cost of the meals are rising as well so wait staff incomes rise even if the rate stays the same.

                    I tip 15% of pre-tax for very good service, but only because that's what is expected, since I see no logical reason why it ever went above 10%. (It was easier for the my mathematically challenged brain in the 7% GST days, since I would just leave an amount equal to the tax.) Since I often don't order a drink - my beverage of choice is water most of the time, I will factor in the cost of the drinks that I didn't order before calculating the tip.

                    Now I see that there is a thread suggesting 20% is the norm. As far as I'm concerned, tipping more than 15% is nothing more than egotistical largess. Maybe I should quit my job a become a waiter.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: OTFOODIE

                      That's a bit rich don't you think? Although I do indeed have a huge ego...

                      The restaurant industry has a helluva lot more "ups" and "downs" than many other professions or trades. Its also clear that you are not even considering the fact that most FOH and BOH staff do not have benefits, or can even afford to take a day off when they're sick (especially if it happens to fall on a weekend when most of their money is earned). I have a secure position with benefits and sick days while many (if not all) of the restaurant industry folk I know have neither.


                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                        I don't disagree, but to play devil's advocate, one could argue that if a server makes $150 on an 8 hour night (I'm just making this up, I know it's often significantly more and sometimes less), that's in excess of what people with no education requirements typically make. That excess covers the lack of benefits and unpaid sick days. You could easily say that a junior grad from business school working a contract job with no benefits for $12/hr is severely underpaid.

                        I don't think this argument will ever be won on a debate of what people deserve. Yes, restaurant staff work extremely hard. But so do a lot of other people. A line cook at McD's makes way, way less and has no upside for tips. Are they working any less hard? I worked in fast food as a teenager, made $7.50/hr back in the day, and believe me, on a major dinner rush, I worked my butt off just as much as any server on a busy night.

                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                          of course, in ontario, everyone gets the OHIP government insurance.

                          1. re: nzach

                            Hold on, please don't simplify things and get all Micheal Moore on us here...

                            Anyway, I guess if I tip out 20%, I just make up for the people tipping 10% or lower, which sadly clearly happens, so it all comes out in the wash in the end. Canadian socialism in action!


                        2. re: OTFOODIE

                          "Maybe I should quit my job a become a waiter."

                          If being a waiter is as great as you make it sound you would be a fool not to.

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            I'm not really sure I understand why so many people are of the opinion that restaurant staff are the hardest working people around. Yes, they certainly work hard. And yes, they have to work on Sat night instead of going out with friends. And yes, it's tiring and stressful. But there are countless other jobs just like it, if not worse. Many waiters make a lot of money for what they do. A friend of mine makes $50k+ a year (most of course, not taxable) working 30 hours at a chain restaurant. He has highschool education and that's it.

                            Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that waiting on tables is the best job in the world. But it's VERY far from being the worst. OTFoodie's point, I believe, is simply that.

                            1. re: SMOG

                              The average salary for waiters in the Untied States is $19,360 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Do some waiters make $50k/yr? Yes, but there are also some that make 1/4 of that.

                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                To reiterate my previous point as well which many respondents don't seem to understand is the concept of job security. Its no big secret that restaurants fail quite frequently, and I would say at a much higher rate than most other industries. I'm guessing OTFOODIE may want to seriously reconsider his comment above after taking that into consideration.

                                No where did I indicate that people in the industry are "more deserving" than others. I just think they should be treated equally, and MANY are not.


                                1. re: KTinNYC

                                  Which is approx $10/hr and above the hourly pay they get. Of that $50k/yr, maybe $20-25k is declared. The rest is cash tips. So if the avg is $19,360, then I'd say that they're probably making double that, or at least 1.5 times. And in Canada, an extra $10k at that pay rate is equivalent to approx $15k before tax. In Europe, the reason that tips are mandated at 15% (in France, for instance) and automatically added to your bill is so that the tip income is fully declared for taxes.

                                  1. re: SMOG

                                    I love how everyone assumes that waiters all cheat on their taxes. I'll indulge you in your fantasy that OTFOODIES' son's girlfriend and his associate's son are criminals and try to cheat the government at any opportunity. There is very little chance they can only declare 50% of their tips. More and more people are using credit cards and this includes for tips. At my friends establishment over 75% of the customers use credit cards so you are going to have to redo your math.

                                    1. re: KTinNYC


                                      The whole 'waiters cheat on their taxes' argument is crap. I've been working itb for a looooong time, and most people I know claim what they earn. Besides the fact that it's getting harder to underclaim due to credit cards, there are practical reasons not to.

                                      Example: A friend is buying a house solo. Does she want to try to get a loan showing she makes 26k a year or 50k a year? The choice is pretty obvious.

                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                        and very few serving shifts are 8 hour shifts and many only do it for a short period and not as a career, sort of like professional athletes, where their careers are shorter and they make their money during the young, aggressive years and then the money fades as does their careers...

                              2. re: OTFOODIE

                                The thing is, in contrast to the past, server tipouts to the bar, kitchen, etc have gone up. Where I work I pay 6% which is why most people, especially those who work in the industry tip more than 10%

                              3. I've had some REALLY bad service... where I have not tipped at all... :( But usually we tip between 15-20% depending on how often the waiter comes by and the quality of the service.

                                1. I tip 15% before taxes. 20% is for service that was really good or for my regular severs at my favourite haunts.

                                  I find 20% to be a bit much to be considered norm. I work hard for my money and I'm not about to hand over 20% to somebody who took my order and only checked up on me once. Those people are lucky to get 15% actually.

                                  1. 20% no matter where. The extra 5% won't break you and the server probably needs it more than you.

                                    1. What is the opinion on when picking up take out food? I'm in Edmonton and have been tipping 20% for years now at a sit done place but, when it comes to picking up food from some asian place or even say, a pizza joint, I get really confused on what to do.

                                      I found out just recently that Hubby doesn't tip them at all, which surprised me as he is a fair tipper when it's a sit down place. His reasoning: They aren't doing anything but, handing me the food and ringing it in. I usually do 10% but really, I feel kind of uncomfortable about it., like I'm coming off cheap, all the while hubby's reasoning is reasonating in my head.


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: livetocook

                                        I live in Edmonton too, and I always tip a few bucks on take out.

                                        I didn't know I should before I worked in a restaurant and had to spend time away from my tables that would tip in order to answer the phone to take the order, punching it in, picking it up from the kitchen, packaging it up in a bag, making sure there are utensils, bringing it out to the front, taking a payment for it and then closing the bill in the computer.

                                        It takes a fair bit of time to do all that, and like i said, it takes you away from your tables that are going to be tipping so a tip is really appreciated.
                                        Please let your husband know in many restaurants its not as easy as just handing you the food and ringing it in.

                                        1. re: livetocook

                                          I think there's a thread somewhere on here about tipping when you do take-out, but I haven't seen it lately.

                                          When I eat in at a restaurant, I generally tip 20% on top of the tax -- sometimes a bit more if the service is exceptional, sometimes less if it's poor. My philosophy is the same as Beevod's (that the server probably needs it more than me) though I appreciate that this reasoning wouldn't apply to everyone. I also generally tip delivery people about 15%.

                                          Having said all of that, until I came across the aforementioned thread about tipping when taking out, I was the same as your husband and never tipped when picking food up. Upon reading people's posts in the thread (which I probably should dig up and link but don't have time) I decided that I was wrong. I now tip a modest amount (a few dollars - not necessarily a percentage of the bill) if I'm taking out from a restaurant that has table service. If, however, I'm picking up from a restaurant that exclusively or almost exclusively focuses on take-out (eg. where they have dedicated staff at a take-out window, as opposed to a waiter who is taking time out from serving tables to get my food ready), I'm not inclined to as I don't think there's much of an expectation of a tip.

                                        2. Article about tipping in Toronto in today's Toronto Star

                                          2 Replies
                                            1. re: Sooeygun

                                              Ok Folks here it is...... Simple. I Work and live in Calgary. a nice spot and am treated very well by guests. For those abroad ie, Europe.. I dont think your travel agency have advised you well. 15 % is the norm at least! No no not 5% 8% or even 10%. I ask Euros if they would like the service to be included on their bill or would they like to take care of that themselves? Most say yes as this is what they are used to. If they choose to leave me there 3 %..... Meh I am screwed! Many people, not only europeans ,do not realalise it costs every server to serve each and every person! I PAY 5 to 6% to serve youre table! I pay a bartender, Hostess, Managers and even the house. Lets do the math. You spend $100 you leave $10. Any waiter walks with between $4 and $5 dollars! Honestly we do not get what you leave! Its all % even if you spend the big bucks on wine and food its still a % game! I still tip out on what has been spent. I feel sorry for those that dont get it. Yet I am fortunate that do! I have google. And I travel! I would never go anywhere b4 looking at what the % for tipping should be! I would never want to offend in ANY country! That being said! If you are not happy with service in any circumstance, let the establishment know! Tip accrordingly. If totally unhappy.....5% will cover any service tip out.; I have had to pay to serve......even though many people have left so very happy! People its our livelyhood! For most ,we love to do what we do! For the others you can tip and do what you do?! Hope this did not offend.. Yet I hope it informed.

                                          1. I think that patrons should tip 15% for okay service after taxes, 20% for good service after taxes, and 10% for poor service after taxes. Unless it's a higher end restaurant, then you should adjust by adding 5% to each of these guideline. The only time I've ever left no tip for a server is when I was actually offended by their service.

                                            The reason that I insist on tipping after taxes is because servers have to pay tip outs to the restaurant and suppost staff based on the post-taxed amount of a bill. So, if a patron is under-tipping, the server may be giving away their total tip and thus receive nothing from that table because the amount a server tips out is fixed, no matter if a table tips or not.

                                            For example, it is common practise in higher end restaurants in Toronto (King Street/Yorkville) for a server to tip out 3% of the total bill to the house, 3% of the total bill to the busser/host/kitchen and 1% of the total bill to the bartenders. The server has now lost 7% of their tip automatically. That's why tipping in higher end restautants is usually set at 20%.

                                            Example, in a higher end restauanrt, If a bill comes to $100 before tax, the bill will come to $113 after tax (13% HST). With a 20% tip, that's a $22.60 tip, but the server would be paying $7.91 in tip out (7% of total bill), meaning the server's actual tip is $14.69. Which is just shy of 15% before tax.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: servingistough

                                              Servers have always tipped out the other workers in the restaurant. I managed to make $12-15 an hour as a high schooler, back in the 90s, bussing tables at a local restaurant, because the servers were tipping me. Those servers were never making 15% of the total bill, yet went home with decent pay anyway.

                                            2. Well, we always tip between 20 to 25%....Especially when the servers do their best at our table....After all, in case some of you don't realize, these servers don't make minimum wages, they only make $8.90 per hour and depend on their tips to make up the difference in wages !!!

                                              1. This is good for the person that like to come in Canada and to work. sometimes I work like manager and sometimes like waiter, we here in Albania work 10 hours/day and 7 days/week, and I make $1300 month, that is big for us, salary is 0.8 to $1/hour and other are just tips,