Earls Restaurant In Calgary Nixes Tipping, Because Fairness

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Diners at one Earls restaurant in Calgary may never have to calculate a tip again — and Canadians aren't exactly cheering on the idea.

Earls.67, which had its grand opening last week, isn't letting its patrons choose how much to tip. Instead, the location is mandating a 16 per cent "hospitality charge" that, unlike traditional tips, will be divvied up equally between servers and kitchen staff, said a company blog post.

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"We believe a cook who makes a burger for a guest is as equally important in the experience as the server delivering the burger," Earls vice-president of operations Craig Blize told The Calgary Herald.

Earls.67, located on Calgary's Stephen Avenue, is serving as a test facility for the restaurant chain — different culinary ideas will be tried out in-house before they're rolled out elsewhere.

The location is trying the no-tip model after Earls execs saw other chains using it in New York, Toronto, Vancouver, and other cities, according to Global News.

"Currently, a large portion of [a tip] goes to the server and it creates a disparity in the wages from our cooks all the way to the servers," Blize told the network.

"In this new model, what it allows us to do is to redistribute that compensation so 100 per cent of the 16 per cent hospitality charge goes to our highly-trained cooks and it goes to our servers and what we're testing to see is if it promotes teamwork, promotes engagement."

Servers who spoke to Global were enthusiastic about the idea — but not all diners agreed.

One patron, Adam Haynes, told The Canadian Press that mandatory tips could inadvertently discourage good service.

"You know when you go to a restaurant and you get a table for 12 or more and they have an auto-grat? Generally the service is worse than if you have discretionary gratuities," he said. "I'm against it."

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An Angus Reid Institute poll released Wednesday showed that 46 per cent of Canadian respondents preferred to keep tipping the way it is, while 40 per cent said they would like to move to a "service-included" model for restaurants.

The poll found that most Canadians tip anywhere between 10 and 20 per cent.

Spotty record

The no-tipping model has a mixed record in Canada and the United States.

Two years ago, Vancouver Island restaurant Smoke 'n' Water did away with tipping and tried to pay its staff a living wage instead, Metro News reported.

But the restaurant later brought tipping back because customers didn't like the new system.

Earlier this year, Toronto restaurateur Bill Sweete eliminated tipping at two of his businesses: Sidecar, and the Toronto Temperance Society.

"Waiters think that money is theirs," Sweete told Toronto Life. "They think that the rocket scientist who carried the food from the kitchen to the table deserves more than the person who cooked it."

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