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Here's how much the average tip is at an Ontario restaurant as 'tip-flation' soars


A recent survey found 53 per cent of Ontarians are tipping more when they dine out than they did before the pandemic, which Restaurants Canada says amounts to an average tip of 18.9 per cent.

Mike von Massow, a food economist at the University of Guelph, said the social norm for tipping was once 15 per cent. “I’ve seen it creeping up in urban areas to 20 or higher,” he said.

Ontario’s surge in tipping is almost 10 per cent higher than the national rate, which also rose 44 per cent when compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to an Angus Reid survey sent to 1,500 Canadians in April.

“I think what’s happening now is ... a variety of nudges and hints on the payment machine are sort of pushing and guilting people into tipping more,” von Massow said, explaining that the rising percentages on credit card terminals are decisions made by individual businesses.

The pivot in payment prompts, combined with a renewed “show of empathy” for the industry and the rising cost of food and drink, results in a phenomenon called “tip-flation,” von Massow said.

“People realize or have now realized how hard restaurant employees work. They want to recognize that, especially now that you see that there's a labour shortage, and the staff is working that much harder,” James Rilett, Restaurants Canada's central vice president, told CTV News Toronto. 

“We are also paying staff more and everything costs more,” Anthony Rose, owner of the Annex’s Fet Zun, Fat Pasha and Schmaltz Appetizing, said. “I would like to think that people are sympathetic to the situation.”

Across the board, he said he’s noticed an increase in tipping for delivery and take-out too. “Before, people didn’t love to pay for pick-up and delivery,” he said. But for his restaurants, Rose said it costs just as much money.

During the pandemic, Dufferin Grove’s Burdock Brewery stopped asking patrons for tips and pivoted to a hospitality model, which raised the cost of their food and drinks in order to pay their servers a higher and more consistent wage. The hospitality model allowed for their employees to budget rather than rely on the variability of tips during lockdown periods.

But this month, the establishment returned to a tipping model, which one employee said could allow servers to potentially make more money.

David Neinstein, owner of Barque BBQ in Roncesvalles, also changed his approach to tipping during the pandemic. In May, he decided to eliminate gratuity and raise his prices.

“We were worried that there was going to be a pushback,” he said. But to his surprise, he said there has been none.

The establishment no longer prompts patrons for tips, but he said there is a notice on each table offering the option for anyone who wants it. While adding a tip to the tab is not necessarily the norm, Neinstein said some customers ask for it. Top Stories

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