Some restaurants across the country have started adding a COVID-19 surcharge on all menu items. And, according to restaurant owners, justifiably so. Many restaurants have struggled to keep their menu prices low as the cost of food quickly rises. To help manage costs during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some restaurants recently implemented a “COVID-19 surcharge.
Like several restaurants, Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge in West Plains, Missouri, recently implemented a “COVID-19 surcharge. Earlier this week, the restaurant was thrust into the national spotlight when a customer posted a picture of the receipt showing the new charge on Twitter. Tweeters were quick to comment and many weren’t exactly thrilled.
The restaurant’s owner and managing partner Billy Yuzar told TODAY Food the 5% surcharge was implemented on May 6 following a noticeable price increase on meat, seafood and vegetables from their local supplier. “We were hoping to adjust the charge weekly based on the prices we get from our suppliers instead of raising all of our prices across the board on our menu,” he said. “We also planned on taking this surcharge off completely once all the prices return to normal.”
Before implementing the fee, the restaurant posted signage outside its front door, at the register, in the entryway and on social media to notify customers about the change.
Yuzar said that most of his local customers had been pretty understanding about the surcharge, but once that receipt went viral on Twitter, the restaurant owner said his staff was flooded with complaints from people all across the country.
This week, the restaurant decided to remove the surcharge entirely and raise menu prices. “We can take the harassment on our social media, but when they start being ugly to our employees here, it really bothers us,” he said. “This is why we decided to just eat the cost of printing new menus and adjust them weekly. We will go back to our normal prices once food prices go back to normal.”
As restaurants continue to grapple with rising food prices and other new operating costs, diners across the country should be prepared for the possibility of seeing a COVID-19 surcharge on their own receipt.
In my opinion, customers should realize that not only are restaurants realizing escalating food prices, additional costs in sanitizing, and only being able to service about 25% of the volume that they had before the pandemic problem. Please, as a patron be polite and appreciate your restaurant and all the servers, and don’t forget the tip. I am sure they would be appreciative.