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Bad experience at Panthean [split from Ontario board]

  • b

went to pantheon tonight and experienced terrible service at the very end. it upset me so much i have to share my thoughts. i'll give a lil backstory to give some context to the situation.

- 4 people (had reservations for 7pm)
- ordered 2 chicken souvlaki, roast lamb dinner, grilled calamari dinner
- 1 beer and 1 glass of wine was ordered
- inevitably someone will bring up the race card so i'll say upfront that it was a mixed group (all canadian born of various backgrounds)

overall i found the food and service to be good right up until the end. bill came to about $103. we all put in enough cash and it came to about $110. waiter picked up the cash and returned with the $7 change. at that point we've got our wallets out deciding on how much more to put in...we're all starting to throw in toonies/loonies to bring the tip up to around 10-15%.

out of nowhere, one of the lead waiters/manager drops by and says this..."you don't have to tip if you don't want to tip because it's 15%"....at this point we're all dumbfounded/shocked at what was just said... so we decide to leave our unfinished tip (around $9) at that point and take off.

i found this unbelievably unprofessional and rude. the food was excellent and the service was good. because of this one incident i will never ever set foot in this restaurant again...nor will i ever recommend it to anyone. it's amazing how one little comment can negate the entire experience.

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  1. 10-15%? You tip 10%? At restaurants? Where you sit down and are served for a few hours?

    1. Glad you liked the food.

      Greeks (and Greek waiters at Greek restaurants) tend to be direct, and say what they're thinking. While this might be rude behaviour in Rosedale, I don't think this is especially rude behavior on the Danforth at a Greek restaurant. He was being honest. You didn't like the comment, but it's silly to negate what had been a good dining experience because a waiter had the chutzpah to give you his opinion.

      7 Replies
      1. re: prima

        thanks prima. i didn't know that about the greeks actually.

        you're right. it's not reasonable for that experience to negate the entire effort put forth by the back of house and front of house. an excellent one as i mentioned.

        however, it has left a sour taste in my mouth that i won't soon forget.

        1. re: blitz

          I understand what you're saying. I had a somewhat embarassing situation at the end of a decent dinner elsewhere in TO on Sat night re: a tip that was miscalculated for a group dinner, and received a little attitude from the server even after her corrected tip was slightly over 20% after tax for average service, so I know it can sting when you've had a decent dinner but still leave the restaurant on a less than positive note.

          I don't tend to let one server's comments get in the way if I really like the food at a restaurant. If I thought the server was rude, I'd probably respond to the server, speak to the owner, or email the owner after my experience, but I also tend to be on the direct and blunt side. Sometimes, if you email a restaurant directly and explain the situation from your point of view politely and diplomatically (ideally before posting anything critical about the service online), there's a silver lining of some sort. You never know. ;)
          Sorry you had a disappointment.

          1. re: blitz

            What prima said. It's a fairly casual restaurant where people from all walks of life eat. That may have been the server's awkward way of saying, 'if you don't have it, don't worry'.

            1. re: Googs

              His intent would depend entirely on his tone. Judging from Blitz's and his friends' reaction, the tone wasn't of the sympathetic variety.

              1. re: justxpete

                Blitz commented below that s/he was unable to hear the waiter's tone because of ambient noise. Another reason not to assume the worst possible intent.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Vocals only present 30% of communication. If the entire table reacted alarmingly, the chances are is that the server wasn't being nice to them.

                2. re: justxpete

                  Some servers on the Danforth (for those who aren't familiar with Toronto,this service glitch took place at a Greek restaurant in Toronto's Greektown) are not completely fluent in English. What comes across as rude or blunt could also be the result of a less than perfect command of the English language.

          2. so much awesomeness in your story.
            you're not going back because you tipped $9 on a $100 bill and the waiter could tell that you were being cheap by *trying* to bring your tip up to an offensive 10%? Because, you know, most people tip 15-20%?


            don't think they'll miss you.

            1. Inevitably someone will bring up the race card??? What does this even mean? Your group is just cheap/lousy tippers for what you even admit is good service through the meal. Wow.

              2 Replies
              1. re: CocoaChanel

                use your imagination. often when tipping issues are brought up people are quick (and wrong) to question the ethnicity of the tipper in question. that...is what i was referring to. i made that disclaimer to quiet all the stereotypes/racists.

                1. re: blitz

                  I found it strange too... like oh its ok to tip greek ppl 9% or something..

              2. This entire post is offensive to me in so many ways. Service was great up until then and your going between 10-15? Sounds like he called you out right.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LexiFirefly

                  sounds like you didn't read my post right lexifirefly. i'm calling you out on that. read my response below.

                2. A 15% tip on $91 would have been around $13.50, not $10 - but in any case, if a server in a restaurant ever confronted me abut a tip, I'd tell him or her where to go, and walk out, never to return as well. Your poor math skills should never be cause for confrontation.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: justxpete

                    finally a voice of reason. no customer should ever be confronted. you are definitely in the wrong industry if you like telling guests what to do.

                  2. all i have to say is wow at all the negative comments posted. first and foremost, this is NOT another tipping thread where you can debate how much is considered an appropriate tipping percentage. everyone has different perspectives/expectations and thus has the freedom to tip as they please. i'm not even gonna dive into that black hole of argument.

                    "most people tip 15-20%". can you specify who is "most" people? if you are sampling your group of friends then obviously that is a small sample size and clearly biased. this is like saying "most people are wearing mint green and coral coloured bottoms this summer" therefore i must do the same. are we in high school guys? we all have different views and values. if you think an appropriate percent is 15-20% then fine. that's your point of view and that's respected. but to say the majority does blah blah blah and you should too is a flawed argument.

                    @cocoachanel and @lexifirefly
                    "cheap/lousy tippers". there's really no need for a personal attack. i think both of you missed the major point of the story so let me break it down for you.

                    1. common bill is presented
                    2. individuals put in money (this may not be obvious to you but people don't always carry exact change...so some people have overpaid and some people have underpaid)
                    3. money is taken and change is given
                    4. at this point the FINAL tip is determined by discussion...it goes like this "i've put in X dollars already for tip"..."i've put in Z dollars"..."ok i think you should put in Y dollar in" etc etc etc. we're all friends so this is no problem.

                    we are ACTIVELY discussing how much more to put in when the waiter INTERRUPTS our discussion and drops a bombshell.

                    what our final tip would've been is a moot point because the waiter never gave us an opportunity. he ASSUMED the worst. we only left a $9 tip (this is the biggest point of confusion...the initial change was $7...we were in the PROCESS of adding money...wallets were open and change was being placed into the tray...we only got up to $9 when he interrupted) because he interrupted us and we were pissed. so we left right after.

                    i don't even know why i'm defending my friends and i right now. it is soooo clear that most of you CH'ers have NOT read the original post correctly. i will throw you people a bone and give you the benefit of the doubt. it is common for people to give money to the waiter and say "no change is required or keep the tip etc etc etc". we at no point indicated that was the case. if we did indicate $7 was all we were going to tip then YES you haters do have a valid point. however, that is NOT the case.

                    chowhound is at its core about leaving your feedback on the food and service you've experienced...for better or worse. there are other forums if you wish to debate tipping percentages. how much you tip is as personal as the type of individual/attributes you find attractive. let's just leave it at that.

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: blitz

                      The waiter should have kept his mouth shut..bottom line. Very unprofessional if you ask me. Guy has some pretty big balls,I would have left him nothing at that point ..

                      1. re: blitz

                        This is all going to get deleted anyways but for what it's worth I'm with you right up until the "how much you tip is as personal as the type of individual/attributes you find attractive."

                        If you never tip,or constantly leave 5-10% in Canada, that is simply not cool. Now I gather that in your case you were still adding up the tip, and the restaurant had no right whatsoever to chirp at you.

                        But if you or anyone else are (hypothetically) regularly tipping only 10% or less at restaurants for adequate service, then you deserve any backtalking from restaurant staff and social commentary coming your way.

                        1. re: blitz

                          And yes 15% is an established social convention in Canada. I think its safe to say most people tip at that range or higher. Any travel guides to Canada will state 15% tip.

                          It's a free country, so you are free to tip however you desire, but don't try to spin this like the 15% tippers are the outliers. There are many people on this board who work in the service industry, and I hope they chime in to say what the vast majority of the tips they have experienced fall under.

                          1. re: themiguel

                            Not everyone is fortunate to dine out all the time, and if this group falls under that category, then who's to say that anyone should demand them to pay 15%? Maybe they can't afford to give too much but occasionally treat themselves to a nice dinner. They're certainly entitled.

                            All I'm saying is, lets not be too quick to judge. And yes, if they dine out fairly frequently, they should be tipping 15%. And I, for one, also wish that 15% would go to FOH and BOH evenly, every time.

                            1. re: themiguel

                              thanks for taking the time to reply themiguel and justxpete. unfortunately you were right themiguel, it has been all deleted from the original post and moved to the "not about food" board.

                              i'm not spinning the statement that 15% tippers are outliers at all. i was criticizing atomeyes' statement about "most people". the number atomeyes quoted is irrelevant. he/she was basing his/her argument on the premise that we should do as "most people" do. this is simply false.

                              i never said this range of % was an outlier. i accused atomeyes of using a small sample size, and a biased one at that. unless you've done a census (not a survey since it only samples a small percentage of a population) of ALL the residents of Toronto, you cannot throw around the words "most people" and use it as your main argument.

                              as justxpete alluded to..."most people" is not "most people". let me give everyone an example. put yourself in a teenager's shoes...he/she says to their parents "mom/dad, everyone at school is wearing coral shorts this summer. i want a pair!" who is everyone? is everyone female..male..are they part of the lgbtq community? what age are they? how many students out of the entire student population are we talking about? what geographic region are you in? what high school do you go to? what is their ethnicity? religious background? what is their net family income? the questions go on and on. there is an inherent bias when you say "most people" because unless you've done a census you do NOT have hard scientific facts and are merely using anecdotal evidence. i am 100% certain atomeyes does not personally know all of toronto's 2.7 million residents. if he/she does? i gladly stand corrected.

                              i will bottom line this to everyone. i will be GENEROUS and assume "most people" in atomeyes' social circle represents 10000 people. what is 10000 out of 2.7 million? i'll do the math. it amounts to 0.37%. last time i checked 0.37% is a small sample size.

                              my post was NEVER about tipping %. i am NOT interested in discussing tipping %. i don't know why everyone is so keen to talk about tipping %. the server was rude. end of story. i wanted to share my experience on chowhound so that future visitors could get as much information on their lunch/dinner choice and make an INFORMED decision. i never once said future visitors should AVOID pantheon. i explicitly said, in an OBJECTIVE way, food was excellent and service was good overall up until the end. i will not be commenting any further on posts related to tipping % because that is not what i set out to do.

                              1. re: blitz

                                So you just wanted to tell your story but not have to read any dissenting opinions or offshoot discussions? Oh.

                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                  on the contrary, i posted my experience because i wanted to contribute to the CH community. i have no problems reading dissenting opinions or relevant offshoot discussions. CH is a discussion board. someone had a dissenting opinion. no problem. i have a dissenting opinion on their dissenting opinion. is that not a discussion? the posters i replied to have the freedom to continue the discussion if they choose to. i have defended my point of view and so can they.

                                  my original post was in the Ontario board. i was pointing out an excellent meal and one rude server. if you read carefully, i had no interest in discussing tipping %. the posters who replied wanted to talk about that. if i wanted to talk about tipping % i would've made my original post in this "not about food" forum. but i didn't. the mods moved my post here.

                                  do you see the distinction?

                            2. re: blitz

                              In the northeastern U.S., and probably elsewhere, menus typically state that a service charge of (usually) 18% will be added to the bill for larger tables (sometimes 6 or more, or 8 or more, etc.). Do Canadian restaurants not do this? The service charge reflects an average of the 15-20% typical tip range. So no, it's not just a "point of view". A few decades ago, 15% was standard. Nowadays, 15 is on the low side, 20 is more typical.

                              In group dining where cash has been paid, I have never experienced a situation where change is returned to the table unless a large bill has been given to cover a small check. We always figure out how much to pitch in including tip, then tell the server no change is needed. In a cash transaction, I think it's strange not to calculate, and pay, the tip along with the check. The waiter may well have thought that he wasn't going to be getting any tip at all, since you wanted $7 back. Seeing your wallets open, he probably thought your party was putting their shares of the change back INTO them, not taking more money out. His comment was perhaps blunt, but everyone has cranky moments.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                <His comment was perhaps blunt, but everyone has cranky moments.>

                                A cranky server can cost a restaurant(even a really good one) business..leave the crankiness in the change room or find a different line of work.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  no they dont... sometime they add 15% but it is very rare. 15% is common and acceptable as tip but the average is rising slightly (at least in montreal).

                                  Waiters here are not afraid to speak up if the tip is not fair... it has only happened to me once .. Im very good at math (tipping math is a joke to me) but once I screwed up on a first date. The waitress said the tip is 15% in front of my date and I was so embarrassed and it was a place I often took first dates to... I think I gave 15 rather than 20 because I was a bit tipsy and I corrected it but didnt think it was at all cool of the waitress to mention it in front of my date... she could have written a note or told me discreetly.

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    In Toronto and other parts of Ontario, quite a few places have an autogratuity of 18 percent for groups of 6 or more, or 8 or more. I'd say most times that I've dined as part of a table with more than 8 people in Toronto, there's an autogratuity that is added. A independently owned Greek restaurant like Pantheon wouldn't have an autogratuity on a group of 4, and might be less likely to apply an autogratuity to a group of 8 than a popular chain restaurant, but Pantheon would provide separate cheques if asked, or split a cheque onto several credit cards.

                                    I'd say the going rate for tips in Toronto tends to range from an amount equal to our Harmonized Sales Tax (13 percent) to around 20 percent. The mobile credit card terminals have a 15 percent and 18 percent option, which is calculated after our 13 percent tax, so many servers at restaurants that have mobile credit card terminals have been ending up with 15 percent or 18 percent post tax thanks to the technology, whereas 15-18 percent pretax would have been more common before these terminals became so common. Outside Toronto, I think tips tend to be a little lower, ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent. I agree w kpaxonite that 15 percent is fairly standard and acceptable in Montreal.

                                    1. re: prima

                                      There's a place near me with a terminal that has a default of 20 percent post tax. I calculated it to be 22.6 percent. I often tip much more generously but despise when it's assumed - so I typically correct it down to 13 percent.

                                      1. re: justxpete

                                        Same here, I often adjust the rate so it equals what I would be tipping with cash or with a traditional credit card slip, although I tend to tip closer to 17-18 % pretax at places I frequent, so that's quite close to 15% after tax. Or I'll enter a specific $ amount.

                                        1. re: prima

                                          Yes, I'm typically much more generous, but when I feel I'm being taken advantage of (which this accomplishes), I am less generous.

                                          1. re: prima

                                            In Montreal everyone I know tips post-tax. I actually never even look at the pretax amount on the bill. The difference is only about 2 dollars on a 100 dollar bill so it doesnt make a huge difference.

                                  2. From the original post:

                                    <<out of nowhere, one of the lead waiters/manager drops by and says this..."you don't have to tip if you don't want to tip because it's 15%"....at this point we're all dumbfounded/shocked at what was just said... >>

                                    Is there a typo or a missing word somewhere....? Or am I just misreading? This doesn't make any sense to me. What is it that the waiter said? [Totally genuine non-snarky question]

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: charmedgirl

                                      The way I read it, the waiter is saying "give us 15% or you can keep your money" or "if you can't afford to give us 15%, then you don't have to".

                                      1. re: charmedgirl

                                        Maybe blitz misinterpreted what the waiter was saying,maybe not.The fact that he said anything at all was totally inappropriate.He's not the one to decide how much of a tip should be left...

                                        1. re: petek

                                          Was not saying that what the waiter did was, or was not, appropriate. I was trying to get the facts of the story straight.

                                          P.S. Sorry, but feel the need to clarify that I did not mean to "recommend" your post. Hit that button by accident. We need an "unrecommend" option like facebook!

                                            1. re: charmedgirl

                                              There is. Just hit recommend again and you're set. Learned that one the hard way :)

                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                Meant that one, petek. ;-) And thanks Hobbert!! Very handy. Super appreciate it.

                                          1. re: charmedgirl

                                            waiter drops off change.

                                            waiter checks up on another table as we discuss the tip.

                                            waiter comes back and says this: "you don't have to tip if you don't want to tip because it's 15%" --> i kid you not, my fingers were literally still in my wallet in plain view as he says this.

                                            waiter leaves.

                                            we leave immediately after.

                                            @justxpete and @petek
                                            both of you bring up great points. it could've been interpreted either way. it was a pretty loud and boisterous atmosphere so i wasn't able to make out his tone.

                                            1. re: blitz

                                              Totally understand the flow of events and did not think you were kidding me. It is the sentence that the waiter spoke that I do not understand. I think I have a good grasp of the English language, and that sentence just doesn't make sense.

                                              1. re: charmedgirl

                                                The repeat wording still makes no sense to me. But I guess I just had to have been there.

                                                1. re: miss_belle

                                                  So glad I'm not the only one, miss_belle!

                                          2. It is possible that the "waiter" saw you and your dining companions taking a bit of time to calculate the amount of tip to be left and said what he thought would be helpful. He perhaps meant that you don't have to tip if you don't want to/can't. But, if you do, it is usually 15%. Add to that, the more direct attitude and imperfect English lead to misinterpretation which ended an otherwise good dinning experience unpleasantly.

                                            Are you and your dining companions a group of "younger" diners? The waiters might have thought you were students on a budget and not a group of seasoned diners. :)

                                            Interesting though, a post sharing a dining experience received so many somewhat hostile replies.

                                            1. Is there the possibility that 15% service had already been added to your bill? Perhaps that is what the server was trying to tell you?

                                              15 Replies
                                              1. re: KarenDW

                                                holy cow...i think KarenDW is right. wowwww. i can't believe what a misunderstanding this was...

                                                we didn't keep the bill but if i re-calculate based on the restaurant's online menu...

                                                beer = $5.50
                                                wine = $8ish (i'm guessing here since i didn't order this)
                                                calamari dinner = $15.95
                                                chicken souvlaki = $31.9 ($15.95x2)
                                                roast lamb = $18.95

                                                subtotal = $80.3
                                                total after 13% tax = $90.74
                                                total after 15% service charge on top of taxed amount = $104 (slightly off from the $103 i quoted earlier since i don't know the exact cost of glass of wine ordered)

                                                so the automatic service charge was about $13.26...now add to that the $9 we left....so i guess we tipped $22.26 which is actually a 28% tip on the pretax amount.

                                                big thanks go out to KarenDW for bringing up an excellent point. i guess we're guilty of not double checking the bill carefully...didn't know 15% service charge was tacked onto a group of 4...wowww all them haters can go suck on that 28% tip. i guess this is what happens when people react purely on emotion and don't think about the situation objectively.

                                                i guess i will be returning to pantheon afterall :)

                                                1. re: blitz

                                                  I would be surprised.. I often find online menus have prices slightly understated. And to guess on the wine... wine by the glass varies between 9-15 dollars in most place.

                                                  1. re: blitz

                                                    It's not normal practice in Ontario to tack on an automatic gratuity on a group of 4. It's usually 8 or more, or sometimes as low as 6. But I've never heard of an auto-grat on a group of 4. Ever.

                                                    However, if you're that confused about what he was saying (and if he was saying it) in the first place, and weren't 100% certain of his tone and attitude, then you should have probably never started this thread in the first place...

                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                      like u said, an auto grat on a group of 4 is unheard of....so all signs pointed to him being flat out rude.

                                                      but through all this back and forth on this discussion board i came to see different opinions and points of views. i gave the situation a hard second look.

                                                      i don't regret starting this thread. discussion helps people see other people's points of view...for better or worse.

                                                      1. re: blitz

                                                        But if you're not even sure if he was being rude to you, then the whole discussion is based on a fallacy.

                                                    2. re: blitz

                                                      So, it sounds like he may have been trying to tell you about the autogratuity/service charge in less than perfect English, and that's why he returned your $7, not wanting to take your change if that's not what you intended. And you ended up (even if unknowingly) giving him a $9 pour boire/trinkgeld (rounding up the tip,beyond the service charge).How European, even if unintentional. :)
                                                      Glad this sounds like it was just a misunderstanding.

                                                      1. re: prima

                                                        I just called Pantheon. They say they don't normally apply an auto-grat to reservations unless it's 8 or more - but they do leave it to the servers' discretion and he said they may apply an auto-grat at times.

                                                        I think the best option to get to the bottom of this would be to get a copy of the bill - but regardless, I still maintain - if you weren't sure that the server was being rude to you, I don't think you should have started this thread in the first place.

                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                          If they did charge 15% I would be seriously pissed if the waiter didnt mention it while I was looking for an additional tip to give. If they did that call the restaurant or email them and complain.

                                                          1. re: kpaxonite

                                                            But don't you see, the wording of the waiter's comment makes complete sense if that is EXACTLY what he was doing. He was saying, "Don't bother, you already tipped 15%". As the OP admitted, s/he did not hear the waiter's tone and assumed the worst, that it was snide.

                                                            But the last post from the OP now seems to want extra credit for having left a very generous tip. That was not the party's intention, so no kudos this time. A number of Canadian posters have weighed in to confirm that the 10-15% target tip range is on the low side for the region and hopefully the OP will keep that in mind in the future, and also learn to take criticism more graciously.

                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                              The question becomes why this individual decided to apply an auto grat in the first place, because, as mentioned, this isn't the restaurants' normal practice.

                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                I have seen some bills where a suggested tip is applied, which can still be removed, if the customer wishes, but I don't remember seeing this on the Danforth.

                                                                Guess this thread is also a good reminder to all of us to review bills carefully before paying, so we always know exactly what we're paying for.

                                                                Even if it's not common, I wouldn't think too deep about why the autograt was applied to this table of 4. It's a $25/person family restaurant, with decent, usually well-intentioned but not perfect service. The server may have decided to apply autograts if groups of 4 had been a little skimpy with the tips lately. Maybe he uses the discretionary autograt when his section is packed. Maybe he had some tables dine and dash with regards to tip recently, and that made him apply a discretionary autograt at his tables. Pantheon, being a popular restaurant, probably gets a fair number of tourists from elsewhere who don't tip 10-18 percent, so maybe the discretionary autograt was in effect, to everyone who who was seated in that server's section, whether they were from Scotland, Leslieville, Scarborough or anywhere else. Who knows! We weren't there. Might have to organize a Chowmeet to investigate further!

                                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                                  OP went on a Saturday night. Maybe autograts are used on busy nights, at the discretion of the waitstaff?

                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                    That wasn't the impression I was given from the manager, or owner, or whomever I spoke to...

                                                        2. re: blitz

                                                          It sounded like that to me originally [by what he said], but I have never heard of a table of only 4 having an imposed service fee in Toronto.

                                                        3. re: KarenDW

                                                          Ahh! And now that nonsensical sentence sorta, kinda makes sense, especially if English was a second language for him. Great call Karen.