Thursday, June 11, 2020

Hidden Price Inflation: Some Restaurants Add 4% COVID-19 Surcharge to Check

The mahi-mahi taco platter at El Segundo Sol in Fashion Show mall is $19.95. A Coke to wash it down (refills included) is $3.75 more. When the check arrives, it reflects the food and drink charges of $23.70, along with $2.06 in tax and a 95-cent “surcharge,” bringing the total to $26.71, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

While the server doesn’t mention the fee when he drops the bill at the table, a notation at the bottom of the check makes it clear.

“To help offset restrictions on our business resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, a 4% surcharge has been added to all guest checks,” it explains. “If you would like this removed, please let us know.”

A statement, according to the Review-Journal, from R.J. Melman, president of El Segundo Sol’s Chicago-based parent company, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, calls the optional surcharge “a necessary step during a time when unanticipated costs have jeopardized the survival of our business."

It explains: “Our industry has been dramatically impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic forced closures. In addition to the extreme restrictions that have been placed on our dining rooms, we are also facing additional costs of doing business — added expenses for carryout and delivery, providing PPE to employees, executing enhanced sanitation practices, and absorbing the greatest increase in food pricing since 1974.”

In addition to El Segundo Sol, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has implemented the new policy at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab in the Forum Shops and Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas. The company’s fourth local eatery, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, remains temporarily closed.

This is a report out of Vegas but there are indications that the practice is more widespread across the country by certain chains.


1 comment:

  1. It would be nice to see some particularly aware and honest restauranteur include on his checks something like "To help offset restrictions on our business resulting from state regulations and taxes, all guest checks are higher than would otherwise be the case."