News and Commentary

Restaurants, Salons Enact Coronavirus Surcharges To Keep Afloat. Customers Outraged.
Pedestrians wear facemasks in front of a restaurant in Los Angeles, California on May 12, 2020, as Governor Gavin Newsom announced guidelines for reopening of restaurants, with self-distancing and cleanliness procedures as the state's coronavirus pandemic. - The stay-at-home order for residents of Los Angeles County will likely be extended through the end of July unless the number of COVID-19 cases dramatically decreases, health officials said on May 12.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Some customers are upset that restaurants and salons – businesses that have been battered and bruised as a result of the lockdowns – have enacted a COVID-19 surcharge to help make ends meet.

Speaking with Fox News, restaurateur Billy Yuzar of Missouri said that he implemented a surcharge of $2.19 to offset the spike in cost from his food suppliers rather than raise the menu prices, a move made by other restaurants in the area, according to him. Though Yuzar allegedly had no complaints from customers, his restaurant, Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge, started getting bombarded with reviews due to one angry tweet that went viral.

“Scuse me … what? A covid surcharge…?” the Twitter user wrote alongside a photo of her receipt.

People on Twitter were largely supportive of the complaint, accusing the restaurant of sneaking an extra charge while arguing it should have just raised menu prices.

“I will happily tip extra to my server but you aren’t slapping a made up charge unless you tell me first. My pay has been cut though I’ve been able to work. Should I charge all my clients an extra fee to cover my bills at home?” said one Twitter user.

“This surcharge is a legal issue (or to put it bluntly, illegal issue). Placing the burden on the customer isn’t right. Establishments are an investment,” tweeted another.

In a message posted to Facebook, Kiko’s Steakhouse said they were not sneaking the surcharge in for unsuspecting customers to pay, and even advertised it with flyers. Implementing surcharges rather than raising menu prices, they claimed, would enable them to adjust the dollar amount on a weekly basis.

“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,” the restaurant wrote. “We’ve been putting flyers in front of our restaurant & put the surcharge on your receipt, today we put more signage. Please understand we can’t control the rising cost of meat, seafood, poultry & produce prices.”

Yuzar said his restaurant has been transparent about the surcharge since the beginning and even advertised it online, going as far to argue that the original Twitter post was not from a woman who had visited the restaurant.

“We have been transparent about it. Right when you walk into our restaurant, it’s there,” he said. “[Critics] don’t have the facts, but are responding to this [picture on social media].”

Other restaurants far outside of Missouri and all the way to California have implemented similar surcharges to make up for the damage wrought by the COVID-19 lockdowns. One Mexican restaurant in San Diego is now charging customers $1 extra for carne asada due to a meat shortage while a burger place in Michigan added $1 to each meal to make up for lost foot traffic.

Beyond restaurants, a dentist’s office in Florida will now be charging an extra $10 per appointment to pay for PPE while some Texas hair salons have implemented a $3 sanitation charge.

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