Twitter | @talialikeitis

Some Restaurants Are Adding 'COVID Surcharges' To Bills As Food Prices Skyrocket

Caitlyn Clancey 17 May 2020

Small businesses are facing incredible challenges right now as the coronavirus outbreak continues to flip the world as we know it onto its head. And as the economy fumbles and unpredictable problems arise, some of these businesses are understandably struggling to keep their heads above water.

Restaurants are considered an essential business and have continued to operate, albeit a little differently, while we all deal with this new "normal." But in order to make any semblance of profit, these places have had to make some serious changes, and even then sometimes it's not enough.

So more changes have to made.

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This is where we find ourselves today with some eateries adding "COVID surcharges" to customers' bills in an effort to stay afloat.

Unsplash | Andrew Seaman

Suffice it to say, this new business model has definitely received mixed reviews.

Last week, a photo went viral online after a woman shared her dinner receipt to Twitter and pointed out that the restaurant had added an extra charge, one which they dubbed a "COVID 19 Surcharge".

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The photo in question was posted on May 11 after Twitter user Talia ordered food from Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge in West Plains, Missouri.

"'Scuse me...what?" she captioned the photo showing a crumpled receipt with the new charge of $2.19 circled in red. "A covid surcharge...?"

As of writing, Talia's post has received over 700 likes and more than 360 retweets. And predictably, the comment section is filled with a host of varying opinions on the matter.

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Some people were equally outraged to see this new charge being added to patrons' bills, with a few users branding it "B.S."

"If we weren't allowed to increase prices of toilet paper then [I don't know] why food isn't the same," this person wrote. "Nobody should be allowed to raise prices of anything right now."

"By you already going there you are supporting them," another added. "And it isn’t like they had a $5.00 meal. This person had already spent a good amount at the restaurant, which supports them. I don’t think it’s right to add on an additional charge. Fast way to lose business."

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However, many Twitter users came to the defense of the restaurant, arguing that perhaps the charge is meant to cover the cost of PPE equipment for the staff.

"Not a bad idea," this user wrote. "How do we expect small business to pay for PPE? It's a small charge. If anyone has a problem with it cook your own dinner!"

Another added, "It is 2 dollars. Seriously. The cost of PPE and extra cleaning along with higher good costs are more than that."

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Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge isn't the only restaurant implementing this sort of additional sharge.

A customer recently shared a photo on Instagram showing a notice out of Los Panchos Mexican Grill in San Diego where the restaurant announced a $1 surcharge, which they later specified in the comments only applies to beef dishes.

Bootleggers BBQ in West Plains also recently implemented a COVID-19 surcharge of 5% which they announced to customers in a Facebook post.

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A quick look at Kiko's Facebook page shows the restaurant has actually been completely transparent about its new surcharge, too.

Facebook | Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge

On May 9, two days before Talia dined there, the restaurant posted a notice to its Facebook letting all its customers know that they would be implementing a 5% COVID-19 surcharge to all orders in an effort to stay afloat amidst the rising meat and fish prices.

As they explain in the post, "We are not trying to hide this surcharge, we choose this option rather than changing our prices on our menu, this way we can adjust the surcharge weekly."

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That very same notice explaining the new surcharge was also posted directly on the restaurant's front door to customers to see upon entering.

Facebook | Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge

In fact, it was also posted inside as well, right on the "Please Wait To Be Seated" sign that greets patrons once they've walked through the front door, and again on the desk where customers pay for their meal.

So presumably, Twitter user Talia had ample opportunity to find out about the surcharge ahead of time, whether online, while walking in through the front door, or while standing at the desk to pay for her food.

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The restaurant's owner and managing partner Billy Yuzar has spoken out to explain the purpose of the surcharge.

Facebook | Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge

"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 told TODAY. "We also planned on taking this surcharge off completely once all the prices return to normal."

However, after receiving significant backlash online, Yuzar said the restaurant has since removed the surcharge and has raised its prices instead.

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This actually isn't the first time one of Twitter user Talia's social media posts has gone viral.

She previously gained attention after sharing this tweet in response to Costco's decision to implement a mandatory face mask rule for all its customers and employees.

"Adios #Costco," Talia wrote in the April 28 post. "Won't be renewing my membership!"

h/t: TODAY

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