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Restaurant managers taking a cut of gratuities

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Some restaurants in the Lower Mainland give their managers a cut of the gratuities. Photo: Alyse Kotyk
Some restaurants in the Lower Mainland give their managers a cut of the gratuities. Photo: Alyse Kotyk

Reported by Alyse Kotyk

Students new to working in the restaurant industry might be surprised to discover that a portion of the tips end up in their manager’s pocket.

“Tipping out” is a common practice in restaurants where a portion of a server’s tips is distributed amongst front and back of house staff. Steve Stafford, hospitality management instructor at Vancouver Community College, said it emerged to encourage teamwork.

“The tip pool, basically, was to acknowledge that there’s [a] team involved and you’re trying to get everybody to be on the same page,” he said. “Somehow, somewhere, management has gotten involved in some cases.”

Restaurant-goers pay their bill in Vancouver, B.C., on Nov, 6, 2016. Photo: Alyse Kotyk
Restaurant-goers pay their bill in Vancouver, B.C., on Nov, 6, 2016. Photo: Alyse Kotyk

Low salaries for managers

Stafford said that while servers might be frustrated by this policy, it’s often used as an incentive for them to move into management positions.

“When I was working on the floor as a server and a bartender, I always made a lot more money than I did when I went into management,” he said. “How do we as owners and operators get managers to be managers? Why don’t we all want to stay as bartenders and servers where you’re making the tips?”

Via email statement, Stafford said the reason why some managers aren’t paid at a significantly higher rate than other service staff, is because they’re labeled as “entry level” management, and will be better compensated the longer they are in the position.

Tips crucial to servers’ income

Simonne Kraigher is a cocktail waitress at The Keg on Scott Road in Surrey. A percentage of her tips don’t go to her manager at The Keg, but she has worked in jobs where they did.

“I absolutely think that’s garbage. The servers are working for their tips — that’s essentially why you have a server job,” she said. “The restaurant should have enough money to pay their managers more.”

Stafford said that the manager’s portion of the tips shouldn’t be a large amount, however, if the restaurant does tip out to managers, it should be limited and used to ensure qualified people get into management.

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