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Restaurants are adding coronavirus surcharges to bills, and people are not happy

Published May 15th, 2020 3:33PM EDT
coronavirus restaurants
Image: TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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  • Restaurants are feeling financial pressure as the coronavirus pandemic has affected supply chains and resulted in higher and higher prices for meat and produce.
  • Customers are upset that additional costs are being passed on to them either through higher menu prices or special “COVID-19 surcharges.”
  • With restrictions beginning to ease, suppliers will need time to get back to normal operations, and costs will likely continue to rise.
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The novel coronavirus pandemic has left many businesses feeling a financial pinch. The restaurant industry has been dramatically impacted, and understandably so. Now, with establishments being hit with higher costs for things like meat and produce, and being forced to shut down on-site seating, some businesses have chosen to pass those new costs on to their customers.

As Business Insider reports, nobody is particularly thrilled with the rising costs, least of all customers who are now seeing special charges on their restaurant receipts. Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight, and prices are expected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

The plight of restaurant owners is perhaps best exemplified by an interaction between an establishment called Kiko Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge and a customer who found a “COVID-19 surcharge” on their bill.

It started with a tweet of a photo of a receipt from the restaurant and the extra charge of $2.19 on a $50 order.

The post gained quite a bit of traction on Twitter and it wasn’t long before the restaurant caught wind of the tweet and the outrage that was brewing. It got so bad that the restaurant posted an explanation to its Facebook page, while also claiming that the online hate storm had prompted harassment of the restaurant’s employees.

“Please understand we are not doing this to take advantage of you guys!” the post reads. “We are doing this hoping we can adjust the surcharge weekly rather than just raise all of our prices on our menu due to increase prices from our supplier on meat, poultry, seafood & produce. Almost all of us here getting our supply through the same supplier. So why are we the one that being harassed??!!”

The restaurant also posted links to news stories explaining the issues with meat supply chains across the country, noting that prices for meat are steadily increasing as the pandemic spreads.

This is totally understandable, of course, since facilities that process meat for distribution have been forced to close their doors due to the virus. Major suppliers have raised their prices in an effort to avoid a negative financial impact, and those costs filter all the way down to the restaurants and, eventually, the customers.

Despite the easing of stay-at-home restrictions in some states, it will take suppliers significant time to recover and return to normal operation. That means shortages will continue and costs will likely continue to rise.

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