October 10, 2021

How to split the bill when eating out at a restaurant

It’s been a good time all around. The food was delicious, the company entertaining – and then the bill arrives. That often means an awkward moment deciding whether to divide things evenly or whether to add up the cost of each person's meal.

Anyone going out to eat in a large group has to be ready for someone suggesting a simple division of the bill by the number of the people at the table, even though studies suggest that most diners prefer to pay individually for items they had.

What's worse, when groups do end up splitting the bill evenly, there's often some chintzy *%$#@ looking to take advantage by ordering a more expensive, and therefore subsidized, meal. But maybe you're better off ignoring that one.

But then out comes that coupon that's been burning a hole in someone's pocket. Should the dollar value  reduce the entire group bill, or only how much they pay individually?

Does it make any difference if it's a gift card; a Groupon-like voucher that they purchased; or a discount from a previous visit? Yes, says Presh Talwalkar, the mind behind the site Mind Your Decisions.

Here are his suggestions for handling that one.

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September 20, 2021

Starbucks didn't ban guns in the U.S., but these places did

7.Starbucks.Chris Ratcliffe.Bloomberg via Getty ImagesHey, did you hear that Starbucks (SBUX) is banning guns in its stores?

If you did, you heard wrong. All Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz did was politely ask customers not to bring loaded firearms into his stores or hold gun rallies or protests there.

No ban is in effect, and Schultz says employees won't confront customers who don't wish to comply with his request. Some of his exact words follow:

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August 21, 2021

Who do you think should pay when you're out on a date?

Once upon a time, men made most of the money and non-traditional couples were hard to find. In an age of somewhat higher earnings for women and a more casual approach to dating, one question remains. 

Who should pay for dinner on that all important first date? And what about the ones that follow?

Earlier this year, Learnvest surveyed over 2,000 men and women, and found that the answer differs not only between sexes but significantly by age.

When asked who should pick up the cheque on a first date, for instance, 59% of total respondents said that the man should always pay ... unless the woman has asked him out.

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August 06, 2021

Which is preferable? Tipping by percentage or a flat rate?

While some people view tipping as an enforced wage subsidy, others see it as a reward for good service.

Either way, it's time to modify your approach, suggests Slate writer Brian Palmer, who feels the current practice is bad for both workers and consumers. And the factors that correlate most strongly to tip size have virtually nothing to do with the quality of service anyway, he maintains.

Credit card tips are larger than cash tips. Large parties with sizable bills leave disproportionately small tips. Plus, we tip servers more if they tell us their names or touch us on the arm

Instead, he suggests, tip a flat amount and announce your new tipping practice to your server as soon as you sit down.

"Virtually every other employee in America knows how much they’ll be paid up front, and somehow the man who sells me shoes and the woman who does my dry cleaning still manage to provide adequate service. I have no doubt waiters and waitresses are the same."

Is he on to something?

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July 09, 2021

88-year-old McDonald's worker lovin' it

A Welsh employee may be the fast-food chain's oldest. It beats staying at home bored senseless, he says.

When you envision your 88th birthday, where do you see yourself?

If the answer is "behind the counter at McDonald's," you're either an economic cynic that people regularly come up with excuses not to talk to at parties, or you're Welsh World War II veteran Bill Dudley, who may be the oldest McDonald's (MCD.TSX) employee in the world.

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April 03, 2021

Phone for a pizza in April

Ever wonder what to do with your old mobile phone?

Or that outdated iPod that you upgraded from years ago?

Or the myriad of chargers tangled up in a drawer that don't seem to fit any of your current gadgets?

If you're hungry for an answer, Pizza Pizza might be the solution.

In delivering on its commitment to the environment, the pizza giant is offering up free pepperoni slices in return for your old phones, iPods and chargers during the month of April.

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March 26, 2021

Canada Revenue Agency turns up the heat on cash businesses

The Canadian tax system relies upon self-assessment, which means, essentially, that you’re trusted to be honest in your reporting, maintain good books, and hang on to the records needed to support your claim. And most people do just that.

Every year though, the CRA highlights certain areas in search of unreported income like cash-intensive businesses, such as restaurants, for instance.

Recently, CRA has taken to double-checking reported company revenues by indirect means, such as extrapolating total sales based on tip income declared by wait staff.

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March 19, 2022

Canadian franchises have the right stuff

What do franchises like Pizza Nova, M&M Meat Shops, Cora and Coffee Culture have in common?

They all have the ingredients to be financially successful.

In Canada, one out of every five dollars spent ends up in the cash register of a franchise operation.

That's more than $100 billion each year, proving savvy marketing, solid fiscal planning and some calculated risks are helping franchises prosper north of the 49th parallel.

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February 20, 2022

Restaurants need to gear up for an aging population: report

Consumers over the age of 55 have have been eating out more over the past five years while younger generations have decreased their food service patronage, according to The NPD Group.

The reason: Boomers, as a group, have more discretionary income -- largely because so many are delaying retirement -- while younger people face particularly high unemployment rates, an anemic job and mounting debt. In other words, they're broke.

In the past, older consumers visited restaurants less frequently than than younger diners and received less marketing attention as a result. But that's changing.

Boomers and even older consumers have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points since 2008, while dining by Millennials has decreased by almost the same amount showing -- once again -- that business should be rethinking just who they market to, NPD reports.  

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January 21, 2022

Hooters trying its hand at family-friendly dining

Earlier this month, in an interview with Business Insider, a former Hooters waitress offered an intriguing answer to the question, "Did families ever come in" to the restaurant?

"Oh, yeah," she said. "We had families all the time. It's a very kid and family-friendly environment. Wives, girlfriends, kids. Not all the customers are men."

Um, what's that, former Hooters waitress? Are we talking about the same restaurant, the breasty, scantily-clad server environment with a nod to boobs right there in its name?

It would appear that we are, and the restaurant itself has made that clear. This week, Hooters will debut a new layout concept that's supposed to be more accommodating to family dining.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...