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Sep 7, 2009 05:00 PM

Stating 'Suggested Gratuity' on the Menu - Good Idea? (or not)

As I mentioned in other posts, my son is a manager, trainer and server at a national chain here in Canada.
MY GF and I were in his restaurant last night and 6 young men (perhaps late teens to early twenties) were thoroughly enjoying the all-you-can-eat diner at one of his tables.
We were watching and listening to my son very carefully and he was friendly, provided prompt service, etc.
Their bill was about $150 and the tip: $6.
My GF's theory is that maybe these young men just do not know what a 'reasonable' gratuity should be, assuming that you are satisfied with the service.
She is suggesting that maybe the chain should implement some sort of polite and obviously well thought-out suggestion in a predominant location on the menu.

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  1. Many places put a suggested gratuity percentage on the check and I have seen it on some menus. This doesn't necessarily mean that people will follow it. Not having been there I can't vouch for either party, but either the group ran out of $$ for a proper tip or they just don't know.... don't know which is more sad.

    1. There's no harm in suggesting. Your girlfriend is awfully charitable, though. It's hard for me to imagine that someone can survive to "dining out without parents" age and still remain ignorant of tipping customs. Unless said parents were also miserable tippers.

      1. "6 young men" probably haven't a clue about appropriate tipping.

        On the other hand, putting the "suggested gratuity" in writing, could mean I don't tip at all.

        I really resent a "national chain" restaurant telling me how much I should subsidize their employees because the restaurant is too worried about the profit line to pay their wait staff even minimum wage wage.

        11 Replies
          1. re: KiltedCook

            So you would punish the server because you don't the corporation's practice? Ouch.

            1. re: KiltedCook

              The servers *are* paid minimum wage which (in Canada anyway) is less than 'non-hospitality' staff.

              1. re: allanc

                I was curious to see what the difference was, as I've only read various US wages here on Chowhound. In Ontario, min wage is currently $9.50. Min wage for servers (if the restaurant serves alcohol) is $8.25. So, $1.25 less for servers.

                Not taking sides, just FYI

                1. re: allanc

                  In Alberta minimum wage is minimum wage no matter what your occupation is. It differs by provinces.

                  1. re: Bryn

                    FWIW, in the UK, minimum wage is minimum wage. Job is irrelevent.

                    (currently stands at £5.73 per hour for aged 22+ - with lower rates for younger people)

                    1. re: Bryn

                      Yes, my mistake.
                      The minimum wage varies by province.

                    2. re: allanc

                      Here in the US a business is only required to pay minimum wage for a 40 hour "full time" employee. Part-time employees can be paid as little as a company wants to pay them. Most wait staff are deliberately kept to 30 hour weeks and paid something on the order of $3-$5 per hour

                      1. re: KiltedCook

                        I don't believe that's true. The difference is between employees who earn tips and those who don't - the tips are supposed to lift that person's hourly rate to minimum wage. So someone who works 10 hours a week at McDonald's is entitled to the federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, while someone at a table service restaurant is entitled to $2.13/hour.


                        1. re: KiltedCook

                          That has nothing to do with being part-time or full-time. The government classifies jobs into various categories to which different laws apply. Serving falls into a different category than the vast majority of part-time jobs that are required to pay minimum wage.

                          1. re: KiltedCook

                            The minimum wage is set by each state, though it cannot be lower than the federal minimum wage. Tips may be considered part of that wage, but an owner is required to make up the differnence to full minimum wage if the tips are not sufficient to equal that, though that happens rarely. In Maine, minimum wage for directly tipped employees (getting tips from the public vs from other employees) is 50% of the regular minimum wage.

                      2. I dont know, it sounds like just cheap A** kids. As a server your son better get as used to them as he does the big tippers! That being said, I see a suggested % gratuity on a whole lot of menus(albeit I do not live in Canada and I am just assuming the universally accepted practices of 15-18% for good service apply north of the border as well). So much so that I just think of this as SOP.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: nkeane

                          He is used to it (after about 6 years with the chain) but he certainly does not enjoy it.

                          1. re: nkeane

                            wow. i would take 15% as in insult. i live in the northeast part of the u.s. 18%- 20% is included for larger parties, and most people generally tip more. 15% for good service? thats actually almost mean, depending on the establishment, style of service, and training / education that went into your experience (i.e. food, wine, pairing, environmental sustainability, allergy/ dietary restrictions/concerns...). and by the way, the supplemental $2.85/ hour is just that. supplemental. in case over a 2 week pay period a server ended up with less than minimum wage. the paychecks i receive are always for $0.

                            1. re: stephanierose

                              I usually use 20% as a baseline and go up and down from there based on service but I think I tip heavier than most. To call 15% an insult is I think out of line of most people's expectations.

                              1. re: stephanierose

                                In Canada 15% is reasonable, not hugely generous but certainly not insulting. I don't know about Ontario but in Alberta servers get no less than minimum wage (currently $8.80/hr).

                                When I'm someplace where I don't know what the "usual" gratuity is, the % added for large groups (printed on most menus) is useful for establishing a baseline for OK service.

                            2. I could be dead wrong but I am guessing that the initials of this chain might be MG?

                              If so, I have witnessed this behaviour from other diners at this (or a similar establishment), including my own office gang, very much NOT young or inexperienced, just cheap and insensitive on this one occasion.

                              Some of the folks around our casual office lunch table tried to justify leaving a minimal (3%) tip on the basis of its being a buffet. True enough to knock maybe 5% off a 20% tipping plan, but what about the drink orders, the coffees, the constant attendance to cleaning off used plates and replacing cutlery? What about bringing the bill (or 6 bills)?

                              I can see a slightly diminished tip at an all-you-can-eat place, but not leaving it out altogether the way a couple of my otherwise worthy colleagues were suggesting.

                              So, YES, if printing it on the bill is what it takes, then print away! This, IMHO, is a much better alternative than simply increasing all the prices so that I end up paying YOUR tip!

                              I rather suspect the $6 tip on $150 tab was probably from one young man who tried to uphold the honour of the whole table of cheapskates!