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As economy recovers, some Toronto restaurants commit to end tipping

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As the Canadian economy continues to adapt to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, some restaurants in Toronto are saying goodbye to a service industry staple: tipping.

So far three restaurants — Richmond Station, Ten and Burdock Brewery — have publicly signed onto doing away with the practice.

The aim is to make the industry more equitable and provide service workers with access to the social safety nets afforded to other professions.

Each of them has instead implemented what is known as a “hospitality included” fee — essentially an enforced gratuity, usually set at 18 per cent of the bill.

Unlike the practice of “tip-pooling,” which typically pays back-of-house staff such as cooks and dishwashers significantly less than front-of-house staff, a hospitality included fee is designed to be more evenly distributed.

Ryan Donovan, co-owner of Richmond Station, says his team decided it was the right choice when they saw how badly service workers were hit by the pandemic.

But James Rilette, vice-president of the industry group Restaurants Canada, doesn’t think ending tipping will go over well with customers.

He says conversations with restaurant owners and customers over the years have led him to believe that consumers tend to prefer tipping over price increases on menu items.

Rilette says the biggest problem is sticker shock — since people are going to react to seeing the price of their burger go up 20 per cent.