A popular Ottawa restaurant chain is re-doing the math on its tipping policy, asking servers to provide 45-65 per cent of the gratuity they earn into a tip pool that will be ‘shared among the whole restaurant team’.

In a memo obtained by CTV News, Lone Star Texas Grill says “Lone Star believes that whereas Tips are received by the Dine-in Servers, Take-out Servers and Hosts and Bartenders, the Tips should be fairly and equitably shared among the whole restaurant team. Or else the ‘guest experience’ suffers.”

The changes mean managers will now receive a portion of the pooled gratuity, and that back of house staff will receive a larger amount than they do currently.

Wait staff at a Lone Star in Ottawa, who did not want to be named, said the decision is creating frustration in the workplace.

“I do think they should be getting a raise, but I don’t think taking it out of a server, and calling it a team environment is fair… I don’t know what I’m going to make after this; half of my income is gone,” said one employee.  

In Ontario, minimum wage for a liquor server is $9.90 per hour. General minimum wage is $11.40 per hour, however; most employees who work as kitchen staff are often paid at a higher amount.

The employees we spoke to said they still typically make more than kitchen staff, estimating they take home roughly $100-$200 a shift in tips - but add that serving is not easy.

“It’s a lot of heavy lifting, it’s all hot sizzling fajitas, we’re running around like our heads are on fire, we have to deal with a lot at once… trying to make 25 people happy at the exact same time.”

Director of Marketing for Lone Star Texas Grill, Kathryn Leroux, said the decision is part of getting on trend with the industry. That Lone Star was only asking servers to provide 2.5 per cent of their total sales to a tip pool, where other restaurants are between 4-7 per cent.

“We realized out tip pooling policy was very much out of date, we realized that we’re at the lower end of the industry standard so there was an opportunity to review it and come up with a better program,” Leroux said.

She adds that servers are included in the new tip pool, and will receive a portion of those tips back at the end of the week.

All staff members will vote Saturday on the tip percentage they want to see donated by the servers to the tip pool. They are able to select a minimum of 45 percent, to a maximum of 65.