When Mile End mainstay Larrys resumes full-fledged table service on its street-side terrasse next Monday, June 7, there will be one crucial change to how it operates: no more tipping.
The restaurant announced the decision to abolish tipping via Instagram on June 2, saying that the pandemic year had led it to “consider who we want to be going forward.” Its answer is simple: An establishment where workers’ earnings aren’t beholden to the whims — or even the presence — of patrons.
“The people that serve you are professionals and we think it’s about time that they’re paid like professionals by their employer (us) rather than our customers (hopefully you!),” Larrys said in the post. Keaton Ritchie, general manager at the restaurant, tells Eater that the salary range across front- and back-of-house — established on experience, seniority, and responsibilities — is $18 to $40 an hour. For comparison: As of May 1, the minimum wage in Quebec sits at $13.50, and $10.80 for tipped workers.
This isn’t the first time a Montreal restaurant has tried to do away with tipping: Two Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie venues, Bistro Rosie and Zero 8, adopted the model a couple of years back — but have since closed their doors for what appear to be unrelated reasons.
To provide workers with the stable wages they deserve, especially on the heels of an industry-overhauling pandemic, Larrys warns diners that the prices listed on its menu will inevitably be a “little higher than before.” Ritchie says item prices will rise by about 20 percent on average. However, without the imposition (or option) to tip, and no added service charge, that shouldn’t change much for most diners at the end of their dinner. As the restaurant’s Instagram post says, “...remember you don’t have to tip now? It will end up costing you the same!”
The move, Larrys’ Instagram post says, is also meant to address the wage disparity between a front-of-house, typically bolstered by tips, and a back-of-house without. And though not explicitly mentioned by the restaurant, there are other reasons that make going tip-free a compelling option, including that the practice has been proven to spur racism, sexism, harassment, and wage theft.
“We are excited to be part of a movement to make the restaurant industry a more just and professional place to work. We’re hearing about restaurants looking into offering health insurance for their staff, increasing wages across the board, stamping out toxic macho chef culture, making sure staff take breaks, sick days, and all kinds of other positive changes,” Larry says. “These are scary changes for an industry always hanging on by the skin of its teeth. It’ll take time, but it’s necessary, and it feels like we’re moving in the right direction.”