News / Vancouver

Vancouver restaurant finds no-tipping policy unsustainable

Angus Reid Institute poll finds Canadian split on tipping issue – slightly more respondents want to keep tipping.

Nevada Cope, chef and owner of Ritual at 774 Denman St. in Vancouver on April 14, 2016.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro File

Nevada Cope, chef and owner of Ritual at 774 Denman St. in Vancouver on April 14, 2016.

A Vancouver restaurant’s experiment with a no-tipping policy has come to an end after the model proved financially unsustainable, the owner said.

The change appears to reflect the results of an Angus Reid Institute poll released Wednesday, that shows while Canadians are split on the issue of tipping, more would rather see restaurants keep the practice than abandon it.

But restaurant-owner Nevada Cope said the difficult decision to switch to a tipping model came down to revenue issues, not customer feedback.

“[It] was super heart breaking to me. I wanted to make it work but it came down to either me or the business,” said Cope, who owns Ritual, a restaurant in Vancouver’s West End.

The restaurant paid its servers and kitchen staff a $21 living wage when it opened in April until last Friday, when it changed to the more conventional model of accepting tips.

Meanwhile, an Earls restaurant in Calgary launched a no-tipping model last week in favour of a 16 per cent hospitality charge.  

Time will tell whether the practice of tipping will continue in Canada, said Shachi Kurl, executive director at Angus Reid Institute.

“I think it is a bit of a wait-and-see to really gage whether across the country Canadians are ready to embrace a no tipping way of eating out.”

Consumer opinion on the issue is split in Canada, with 46 per cent of respondents to the Angus Reid Institue poll reporting a preference for tipping and 40 per cent responding in favour of a no-tipping model.

But Canadians do agree on one thing – the amount they tip falls between 10 and 20 percent and the amount they tip does not change depending on service. Only 9 per cent of said they do so “often,” according to the report.

In fact, the idea that tipping is no longer about showing appreciation for good service is the strongest in B.C., with 71 per cent of respondents agreeing with that statement.

Cope is still trying to remain true to her values – staff are paid more than minimum wage and together with tips, earn a living wage.

“It’s still very important for me to pay everyone fairly whether they are front-of-house or back-of-house,” she said.

“We’re not paying minimum wage either. I’m doing what I can do.”

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