Canada , Tipping , Menu Change , And Other Rants

I know the gab a lot lately seems to be on Canadian tippers and how cheap they are. I know that can be the case but to give you an idea from a Canadian waiter I would like to weigh in on the subject. I may get controversial and jump to and fro but here is what I think may be the problem.

During an evening I get a lot of 12% to 17% tips on the pre tax. For instance I get a bill of $80 and I will get a $10 tip but never a $20 tip unless it is your odd exception. Then I could get a $95 bill and get tipped something stupid like $7. After that I get a table with a bill of $300 and they will tip me a blinking $30. Where I work if you walk out with 10% of your gross sales after tip out it is considered good. I like to say I almost always beat that easily.

But it all depends on what type of clientele you have. If you work in a finer dining place here you will make good money. Similar to that of the States. I am sure in the States it is probably the same thing. If you work where there is a large West Indian population or there has been an economic downturn you might find your tip percentage lower.

I have had $97 dollar bills rounded off to $100 with the tip. We have had parties at our place where the automatic grat is not added on and between the two waiters made $15 each after tip out. The list goes on.

Here is the deal though. The really good places to work are few and far between nowadays. If you change jobs you better know what is in store for you. I stay where I am cause it fits with our 1 car family and my wife’s other job. Once I went downtown to work a night at this fancy restaurant so they could see how I work and I them. After tipping out the kitchen , manager , bar , bussers , and splitting the tips based on a stupid point system it wasn’t worth it. No married person with a family could afford to work there. Probably explains why everyone in the place was single.

But getting back to your Canadian tipper. To be brutally honest in this country the Canadian is untrustworthy of what may happen tomorrow. Our standard of living has dropped in the last 30 years , we have had governments in place that have helped themselves to the public trough and gotten away with it leaving the taxpayer on the hook. There is no real accountability. Governments worry about just the time they are in power. Cost of living here is extremely high. You pretty much have to live where there are no busses in service to find a reasonable rent. The baby boomers are starting to retire broke so they are not tipping much and the ones who have money know better than to spend their winters here.

So take my warning ahead of time , when you are serving a Canadian and they appear pretty average run of the mill type don’t expect much in the way of a 20% tip. They probably left with so much money and had to put some in case they got hit with another bombshell when they got home. It is not that we didn’t think the service was excellent it is just we freakin don’t know next week what is going to happen so we have to save for a rainy day. We had to have the Olympics up here again that will just create more debt that could have went to building a hospital. The list goes on.

Now you say maybe we shouldn’t go away if we cannot tip the 20%. Just stay home. Well maybe we want to get away despite the lousy exchange rate. Maybe sooner than vacation here we choose another country. Perhaps we spend money on other things too when we go away. Maybe you will end up making a bit more when we sit down in your section that you would have made otherwise.

My country is changing both people wise and thought wise. People wise so that the immigrant who comes into this country wields the power. Instead of adapting to the new country they live like they do back home. We had to change our menu to accomodate them. Last week the bacon came off. Even though I know the reason for it why do we do that? Do we have to accomodate everyone on what they want when they arrive? When the older generation moves on I am out of the a la carte industry. The young people are broke coming out of school and the middle age will be counting their pennies.

Fine Dining is disappearing fast around these parts. I say open up a Banquet Hall! Just do weddings and parties with the add on grat.



  1. I also think a lot of it has to do with that servers in Canada are paid a better minimum wage. Even tough the minimum wage really does suck and it's impossible for people to actually live on Canadian servers are paid more than their american counterparts. For a country that is suppose to be so developed and amazing to live in the US really does not have their priorities straight a lot of the time [not saying Canada does either … I live in Ottawa and bloody hell our municipal government makes our federal government look fabulous].Personally I tip 20% but most people are idiots and probably don't remember what it's like to live off of minimum wage [bloody retail].

  2. Bek….I agree with your comment. Thankfully we are paid more as servers than what they get in the States. You need a bit of a cushion even if in the big picture it is not a lot.

  3. Sorry, just because you are Canadian and want to go away and may have spent your funds on other things does not mean you can stiff on tipping practices when you visit a country that is known for 20%.Really – we vacation in our own country and if we can't afford the tip because [gasp] we spent a bit much at the souvenir shop then we dont' go out to a sit down/full service restaurant.I am curious Waiter, what would you tip if you came to the US – keeping in mind our servers make 2.30 US per hour on average?I feel that you do tip appropriately, but this post illustrates why Canadians are marked when they come to the states. They KNOW, but the excuse.

  4. SkippyMom…I know what you are saying. Personally I can't speak of anyone else but I believe nearly every Canadian does not know waiters make $2.13 an hour in the States except for people like myself who blog. Most people couldn't imagine working for that amount an hour. I am sure if we knew that we would tip more to be honest. Usually I tip pretty good when I go there but like I haven't been in the US except for a ferry ride since 1994 on any vacation.

  5. my restaurant gets a lot of tourists and to be honest I have never had a problem with Canadian tippers…they don't tip like Americans but they tip better than the Brits and better than the locals…they are fine by me……!

  6. I've been a server in Western Canada for a number of years, and worked my way up to serving in a five star restaurant. What I have found in every establishment is that there are always stereotypes against foregin customers. Very seldom do I get great tips from Americans. That does not mean that all Americans are bad tippers, it just so happens that when the cruise ships come in, that's what we get. Also- servers love to generalize. Any foreigner is a bad tipper for endless reasons. I think that it cannot necessarily be based on country but rather the kind of tourism drawn by your area. I would love to add on a little "so we should all put aside our general statements" but that is not going to happen in the service industry. It's a great stress reliever…!

  7. I'm curious to see how many people calling themselves Canadian are new Canadians [recent immigrants etc.], 1st gen Canadians etc. etc.I'm curious because those who have lived in Canada for many, many years should be dropping at least 15% whereas new Canadians are not so accustomed to these practices.Really makes you think about the other various factors involved in the tipping phenomenon.

  8. Manuel…I think and thank you for that fair assumption.

  9. Anonymous…I would like to know where you work after myself working at some spots on Victoria. Anyway you make a good point. Especially about the cruise ship people who have paid for everything pretty much in advance and only bring so much spending money with them and who are trying to make it last the voyage.

  10. Bek…Ah yes that is a very good point. When I have worked in some really nice a la carte high end dining guess who use to frequent the place. Not newly landed immigrants that is for sure. The people are changing and with it the usual great tip.

  11. This was a very enlightening entry. I am no longer a waitress, but still interested in the game. Your summation of your country and its problems was a real education. The one thing that I never understood was regulars, very pleasant, loved their food, tipped zero, every time.

  12. Carol..welcome and thanks for the comment. You know Canadians are not that bad but regulars who eat often in one place and do not tip should wake up.

  13. Most waiters are usually not happy with whatever they get for a tip. Times are tough now so people are more tight with their tipping $$$.Take care buddy.

  14. Banquet Manager…especially when you consider how long $100 last nowadays compared to 10 years ago. Take care my friend.

  15. Visiting via Manuel's 'Well Done Fillet'.I'm a Canadian and I always tip 20% if the service is good regardless of whether I'm in an upscale restaurant or a fish 'n' chips joint.I encourage my friends to do so as well.

  16. MJ…welcome and thank you for weighing in with your comment. From one canadian to another I don't think we are as bad as others make us out to be. Good on you MJ!

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