Ontario restaurant: The penny stops here

As the penny begins to fade out of the Canadian economy, CBC News has received reports of at least one business in Chatham, Ont., refusing to accept the copper coin.

It's perfectly legal to refuse the coins, according to the Royal Canadian Mint.

The mint said businesses can refuse any form of payment, which includes rejecting Canadian currency like the penny.

"They can refuse to take pennies if they like, just as we've seen in the past merchants posting notices that they don't take the old paper $50 and $100 bank notes," said spokesperson Alex Reeves.

It was a shock to Charlene Houle, who went to a Burger King restaurant in Chatham-Kent, east of Windsor.

She said it didn't make sense when the cashier refused to accept five of her pennies.

"I had $5 and five pennies piled up ready to go and she handed me back the pennies and said, 'we don't take pennies,'" said Houle.

"I guess I was shocked that they could do that, that they didn't have to take legal money."

CBC News contacted the franchisee of the restaurant, who said there is some confusion surrounding the penny. He's instructed his employees to accept loose pennies, but refuse to take rolled ones.

The Royal Canadian Mint doesn't expect many businesses to refuse the penny, at least not any time soon.

"It doesn't seem like that's a trend at all. Businesses are choosing to be as customer-friendly as possible," said Reeves.

He couldn't say whether Canadian banks are legally responsible to accept pennies.

Pennies remain legal tender in Canada, even though the mint stopped distributing them last week.

The last penny was minted in Winnipeg on May 4, 2012.

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