“You don’t like it, go somewhere else”- The scare tactics of the Canadian Restaurant Industry.

With many restaurants continuing to open up and compete in the now difficult hospitality industry, you think the job environment and staff moral would be at its all time best. With chefs now being looked at as celebrity status and a sommelier being depicted as one of the most difficult jobs anyone could take on, you think restaurants would strive to take focus on the well being, mental health and work life balance of their employees. When in reality, the pressure and expectations of employees, is at an all time high and no support is given to balance this out.

With all this focus on making every guest as happy and fulfilled as they can be, you think these restaurants would make sure their staff would be in the best position they can be to evoke their wished culture. Unfortunately, myself and many other servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff, know that this is definitely not the case. If you read my previous blog, you read the stress every server has. With your personal needs being put not even on the back burner, left at home.

These scare tactics I mentioned in the title, if you haven’t worked in the industry, I’d be very hard for you to understand where that came from. But for everyone who has, I probably don’t need to explain more. I have worked at almost every style of restaurant to any style of nightclub and have had that exact line told to me at every single establishment. .

These management know how much you make, as most of them illegally are given a percent of these tips that you have worked your ass off for (That’s a whole other blog on its own, definitely soon to come). And with them knowing your possible daily earning from tips, they use this as leverage to make you work long hours without any breaks, agree to their illegal employee standards and force you to choose work over your mental and physical well being.

“If you don’t like the way we do things here, then go, we can find many other servers that would love to be in your positions”

This line I heard, sadly way to much. Ironically at our Pre-Shift’s before a service. How this is supposed to raise moral and get you proud to be working for their company, is beyond me.

The fine dining restaurant industry is one of the toughest and most cut throat industries out there and you can make some pretty damn good money if your good at what you do. Management knows this, and they continually remind each server of this, daily. If they focused on the Work Life Balance, supporting their staff, and understanding that their needs are just as important as each customer, than they would have employees who would want to work their asses off even more and be less likely to do things that might affect the company.

If you are to feel sick and want to go home or try to call in for the night off, it is your responsibility to be able to find another person to cover you own shift and if you cannot, you are threatened to be let go or sometimes even be cut of shifts. This is highly illegal and widely done at almost every restaurant I know. This is caused by a very amusing circle of, can’t find good staff, hiring the bare needed employees and putting all the pressure on the servers themselves, yet saying that they are easily replaceable.

Very rarely would you hear from your restaurant managers or directors, saying “Thank You”or “Great job tonight”, when you worked your ass off and helped that night run as smoothly as it did. But yet, that one table that you completely forgot to pick up their second course, you hear about for the next following week.

No wonder why servers turn to drinking and drugs. It’s a very hard position to put yourself in day in day out. The money is great and you get to meet so many amazing people, but management treat you like shit, turning everyone into the most competitive versions of themselves, all to make the restaurant more money, which in turn gets them that bonus. Your boss turns almost into that asshole father figure who you strive to prove that you are the best server he has, so you get the best tables and shifts.

All of this would be simply fixed if Canada was to adjust server wages and the tipping policies were to be changed. Money, in the end is the heart of hunger and what causes these servers to put themselves in these positions. If the pressure was taken off of each table to leave an allocated tip, that in turn would benefit everyone, including the guests. That work environment would increase more positivity, less competition and more support for staff to be treated properly and legally just right.

While I was still in the industry, you’d never hear me say those words. Because yes, I too was money hungry and I too put my own needs behind me to make that extra cash and I too was scared to stand up for what I deserved. If I was to ask for my legal wage, proper pay and allocated break time, I’d be laughed at and told to go somewhere else, with no reference to get me into another job and the small restaurant industry would talk, making it hard to find any work.

But once I realized that my mental health and my needs are the most important things I can do to make me truly happy, then that money focus shifted and I realized that holy shit, no one ever really gave a shit about how I was feeling at work and I was strictly looked at as someone they could use and abuse to get everything done.

Restaurants owners need to take a step back and look at the true picture. Your staff make you money, not the customers. Without your amazing employees, your guests would never be back to enjoy that awesome service and amazing food. If you treat your employees with respect, pay them what they legally deserve, overtime and all, and make sure their needs are met, then they’ll run a mile for you and back, with their eyes closed. Its time to make a change and its time fix this horribly ran industry.

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