May 12, 2014 2:23 pm
Updated: May 13, 2014 5:45 pm

B.C. restaurant plans to axe tips, pay employees a living wage


Video: The no tipping movement has finally reached BC. It’s about to make its first appearance at a new eatery on Vancouver Island. And as Kylie Stanton reports, it’s a model that’s already working in other countries.

A new Parksville, B.C. restaurant opening in June is planning to pay servers and back-of-house staff a living wage instead of operating on a tipping system.

Owner David Jones is set to open what he believes is the first restaurant in Canada to do away with tips.

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Smoke and Water, located at the Pacific Shores Resort in the popular seaside Vancouver Island destination, will pay servers between $20 and $24 an hour. Cooks and back-of-house staff will get between $16 and $18 an hour.

The restaurant will also offer employees medical and dental coverage, something unheard of in the industry.

“We’re drawing a line in the sand and saying ‘no longer will the back of the house be underpaid.’ For all the generations who have worked or will work in this industry in the future — enough is enough. A single mother working as a dishwasher for 10 years making minimum wage? That stops with us. We want social change,” Jones said.

The restaurant will open to the public on June 2, and Jones has already hired a full staff of 48, all of who are on board with the system.

“The benefit is employees will have a steady income and they will be able to budget, accrue credit and get bank loans,” Jones said.

He also believes customers will appreciate the new system. Although food will be slightly more expensive, there will be no option to leave a tip at the end of the meal.

If patrons do leave tips, they will be returned to the customer or donated to a local charity.

While this may be the first restaurant of its kind in Canada, this system has already popped up in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

In an online poll on the Global BC Facebook page, many British Columbians weighed in on the issue.

A comment from Grace Dale said, “I would happily support this process. There is no tipping in France, and it makes paying so much simpler! Pay a living wage, charge an appropriate price so customers all pay the same… no over or under tipping.”

But some people were against abolishing tipping.

Steven Katona said, “I won’t go there… how dare they take away tips! Some things are meant never to be changed.”

Others wanted the best of both worlds.

Jennifer Cheesman said, “Pay them an appropriate wage and then, if the customer chooses, they can leave a tip.”

Across the restaurant industry, servers are generally paid minimum wage and back-of-house staff is paid slightly higher. Servers keep the majority of their tips and then pay a portion to the back-of-house staff.

Jones said he doesn’t understand why restaurants are the only business that rely on this model.

“Why are we persisting with this silly model and trying to force a broken business model onto millions of people annually across Canada?” he asks.


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