As restaurants begin reopening, some have begun adding coronavirus surcharges to make up for the loss of revenue while they were forced to close their dining rooms. The move has shocked and divided customers, some of whom can understand the reasoning but are not happy about it. One Michigan restaurant owner admitted the extra charge was to help pay his bills.
Goog's Pub & Grub, a popular burger joint in Holland, Michigan, added a $1 per meal "COVID Charge" to orders. "We're just trying to pay the bills so we can stay open until this is over," owner Brad White told Fox 17. He said it could help make up for the loss of foot traffic and alcohol sales lost during the shutdown, and it was impossible to make that up just through offering take-out.
"Takeout averages about 82 cents more per meal just to put that meal out cause you’re not just putting it on a plate or tray and washing that again. It’s the silverware, the boxes," White explained, adding that the costs of burgers has only continued to climb as meat shortages become a concern. "When this started, we were running about $50 for a case of burgers and then it was up to $55, $62, $66, $72 last week and they just told me next week it’ll probably be up to $88 a case, so almost double what we were paying."
Local retailer adding 2% to every sale to cover increased costs of labor during pandemic. They claim 100% of surcharge is going to staff.
Worth it— Adair Arrowsmith (@AdairBlackmore) May 14, 2020
While White believes he might be the only restaurant forced to do this in his area, he is certainly not the only one across the country. Owners are also going out of their way to explain these extra charges are not meant to take advantage of the customer. In West Plains, Missouri, Ozark Cafe, KiKo Japanese Steakhouse and Bootleggers BBQ added 5 percent surcharges due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports KY3. The owners of these restaurants said the surcharges will only be temporary.
Customers are finding coronavirus surcharges at restaurants https://t.co/1DrIPAnCll via @houstonchron IMO THE CONSUMER DESPISES the WORD SURCHARGE. I KNOW I DO. PROBABLY BECAUSE IT REMINDS ME of GOVERNMENT.— Russell Ybarra (@russellybarra) May 14, 2020
West Plains residents who spoke with KY3 understood why the charges were necessary. "I absolutely support it," Maylee Stewart told the outlet. "I think it's a good thing for us as a community to help support our local businesses. It's really not a lot. They're really not adding too much on to the total. I think mine was 66 cents today and I'd pay more if they needed it."
imho bars should chuck on a coronavirus surcharge, people would pay it. still won't make sense for a lot of venues to open for only ten people though— Nick Evershed (@NickEvershed) May 14, 2020
KiKo Japanese Steakhouse actually became at the center of a controversy when their COVID-19 surcharge was first noticed. A photo of a receipt went viral on Twitter, and the backlash continued on Facebook. The owners insisted the charge was not added to take advantage of anyone, explaining it was only to make up for the added costs of meat and poultry. They then announced the charge would be removed and now they will have to raise prices, but will try to offer deals. "We are even making a lots of good promo deal so you guys still can enjoy our meal with a low cost but due to prices going up & low margin we have to raise our prices," the owner wrote on Facebook.
Coronavirus surcharge? Really!? Keep kicking the cost to the customer. 😡— Michael T (@theevomo) May 14, 2020
Not sure a 5% coronavirus surcharge is going to help those trying with what money they don't have going to eat & ordering in to support restaurants locally.https://t.co/miE102lplM— Tiger 🐯 (@pudding2312) May 14, 2020
If I ever see such a charge on any invoice from any restaurant or other vendor, it would be the last time they saw any of my money.— Bob Archambault (@BobArchambault) May 13, 2020