Sunset Grill, other restaurants reacting to Ontario’s minimum wage

It isn’t just Tim Hortons that is responding to Ontario’s minimum wage increase. Many businesses all over the province are reacting, but the media is portraying it as an attack on the workers, even though it was the Liberal Party who initiated anti-poor policies.

Sunset Grill, a popular all day breakfast restaurarant, has instituted a new tip pooling policy that will inevitably cancel out the $2 increase (for servers, it went up from $10.10 to $12.10 per hour on January 1).

Under the policy, Sunset Grill will charge wait staff five percent for the diner’s bill (before tax), up from four percent, reports Vice, citing an internal memo leaked by restaurant staff.

“I probably average $150 total (in tips), per day. But if I was giving back $50 to the pool, I’m taking home $100. Now I’m giving back $65 or $70 per day, but my tips haven’t gone up,” one server said.

“We are not opposed to tipping out. But they are taking roughly $1,500 a week [in total] from us and what we know for sure is they are tipping out $700-$800. So even before the unforeseeable, [where] was our money going?”

Other restaurants are considering implementing this policy, too.

CBC reports that Clocktower Brew Pub and Brewery Group in Ottawa will require a tip pool hike by 1.5 percent.

Severs at Wimpy’s and East Side Mario’s are also eating a jump to the tip pool.

Of course, the unions are whining, including Ivan Gedz, co-owner of Union Local 613 in Centretown. He told the government-subsidized media outlet:

“You’re taking one pool of money out of one area to move it to another area so that — you being the owner or investor, whatever it might be — you’re protecting completely what you have,” he said. “There’s an incredible amount of entitlement among owners. The term itself, I think owners think they own their employees, to be honest with you. And I think that’s shining through with these comments.”

Profits? It is difficult for restaurants to turn over a profit, especially because the profit margins are so thin. It is expensive to run a restaurant, even a fast-food restaurant. Labor costs, food costs, energy costs (which have surged in Ontario in recent years), overhead, and the list goes on.

He should really be complaining to Premier Kathleen Wynne and the grits for this measure.

This is similar to what happened in Seattle, where restaurant workers saw their shifts slashed, their hours cut, and their tips reduced because of the minimum wage. In the end, their pay tumbled by about $2,000 (SEE: Seattle low-wage workers saw incomes drop amid higher minimum wage).

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