E.P. Taylor’s servers speak out about about pub

Durham College and UOIT students walking towards E.P Taylor's pub and restaurant.
Durham College and UOIT students walking towards E.P Taylor’s pub and restaurant.

Current and former servers at E.P. Taylor’s pub on the Durham College-UOIT campus are speaking out about what they claim are unsafe and unethical food handling practices, as well as an unpaid and inadequate training experience.

But Kristin Mitchell, one of the managers at E.P. Taylor’s, says the claims are false.

E.P. Taylor’s is run by the DC-UOIT Student Association and many of the staff are students, like Kennedy Latour who worked at E.P. Taylor’s from Sept. 2015 to Dec. 2015 and Alyssa Erwin who is still employed by the restaurant.

Erwin and Latour say since working at the restaurant, they have witnessed some questionable practices with food handling.

“Using their (cooks) hands to handle food, the cooks didn’t wear gloves to serve things, I just felt like it was a very unsanitary kitchen,” says Latour, who has served at various restaurants for four years.

“If someone doesn’t use their lemon, a lot of the girls will just take the lemon off of somebody else’s cup and stick in the new person’s cup,” says Erwin, who says the servers do this to avoid having to cut up more lemons.

But Mitchell says a manager or supervisor is always available to ensure that proper food handling procedures are being met. She says the allegations that the servers were transferring lemons between customers are false.

“That’s absolutely not true. There’s always lemons cut down and there’s always so many lemons cut, they end up throwing them out at the end of the day,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell has been employed with the restaurant since 2009. She says the pub has fewer than 100 employees and on average the restaurant serves 700 customers a day.

The Durham Regional Health Department gave E.P. Taylor’s a conditional pass on June 18, 2015, after noting eight violations. Some of the violations consisted of equipment, sanitation and food protection.

According to the inspection summary, the violations were rectified the following day.

Sendi Struna, a public health inspector with the Durham Region Health Department, says food handlers aren’t required to wear gloves, but anyone handling food is required to wash their hands frequently. She says re-using food is a violation and doesn’t consider the practice to be very common.

“It’s definitely a direct violation. You can’t recycle food. You don’t know what the first individual may have had. It’s general communicable diseases that may be passed,” Struna says.

The Durham Region Health Department annually inspects a little more than 3,000 businesses. According to Struna, the inspection visits are unannounced.

Struna says a risk assessment is done with each visit, and depending on the outcome of the assessment a business will receive more inspections.

Erwin says the sanitation practice wasn’t her only concern. She says she also witnessed a breach of ethics taking place at the restaurant. According to Erwin, if the servers sometimes make errors, accidentally punching in non-halal items when the customer orders halal, the kitchen staff occasionally refuses to remake the item.

“The staff has said, ‘Well, I’ve already made that so just tell them it’s halal’,” she says.

Erwin says she doesn’t escalate the issue because sometimes it’s the managers who are refusing to remake it.

“Management has done it,” Erwin says.

Mitchell says those allegations are also false.

Both Erwin and Latour say during their job orientation they were paid to watch a slide show on sexual harassment. On their first day as servers they didn’t receive further training and weren’t paid, either.

“They told us that we would be getting trained, on how to use the computer, how to deal with customers, and I was told they would start me off with just one table, and 20 minutes into my shift I had about seven tables,” says Erwin.

“I had no idea what I was doing, I had never served before,” Erwin says. Both say they had to pay $75 for the training as well as their uniform, which consisted of a T-shirt.

“Why did we have to work seven hours of free work to get a T-Shirt?” asks Latour.

Mitchell says that servers are required to obtain a Smart Serve and employees have to do Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS) and online training once they’re hired. Mitchell says employees are paid when they’re being trained at the restaurant.

“There is a staff fee, they’re paid to be at work. They would have been paid for that day. It’s $75 for the uniform and training. Because some of the specified training courses are expensive,” says Mitchell. Mitchell says Smart Serve training is included in that fee.

Erwin and Latour say they paid for their Smart Serve before getting hired.

According to Service Canada labour regulations unpaid training is against the law, and employees must be paid for the time they put in.

Erwin says that apart from being unimpressed by some of the tacts used by some of the staff, she enjoys her job but feels a lot differently about dining out now.

“I want people to think twice when they come and actually order things. I’m more cautious when I go out. How I see it is it’s college kids running the kitchen, and college kids aren’t the most reliable,” says Erwin.

Several other E.P. Taylor’s servers were contacted for this story but declined to comment.

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Marina Tyszkiewicz is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. When it comes to writing and reporting, she enjoys covering women’s issues, animal welfare issues and writing profile pieces. She likes to spend her spare time reading, writing, and researching. Marina hopes to freelance and have her own opinion column following graduation.


  1. I apologize for not citing my name as I am not comfortable with those reading these comments to know my identity.

    This article is not well investigated. Having previously worked for EP Taylor’s I can attest that the training is adequate.

    Training days are paid, and the $75/yr pays into a staff fund that helps to pay for initiatives such as staff parties and outings, as well as an annual stay in Niagara Falls every April to celebrate a year of hard work.

    Cooks are required to do safe food handling training and as per Ontario laws, there are NO requirements to wear gloves if hands are being thoroughly washed when handling raw or cooked materials. To top that off, anyone at any time can ask for their food to be prepared with gloves if the patron would prefer that. I understand this was stated but it’s common practice.

    I would highly suggest that the author should clearly check facts before publishing something based on hearsay evidence with non-credible sources. This article was designed to make EP Taylor’s management look terrible. There could be some staff or former staff that fabricate evidence based on grudges, etc.. This can be indicated by the fact that in this article you stated that the training was unpaid multiple times but also state that your sources also indicated that they were “paid to watch a sexual harassment video” on their orientation days.

    Please check your facts before publishing an article like this. It’s clearly designed to make EP Taylor’s look bad. Your sources also stated that it’s college kids aren’t very reliable. Are they in fact a “college kid”? Are they stated that they aren’t reliable as well?

    I’m very displeased with this article.

  2. To the commenter form April 11, 2016, I would advise that none of the evidence in the article is hearsay. The servers providing their allegations did not hear someone else say something about the way E.P. Taylor’s is run. They saw it with their own eyes.
    What cooks are required to do does not necessarily mean they are compelled to do if no one is there to enforce the rule. And yes, despite our society’s idolization of youth, many typically college-age students are unreliable. They’re there for a good time, not a long time.
    I would suggest that the commenter has some kind of vested interest in defending the allegations (a manager perhaps?), but I’m only speculating.