'COVID-19 Surcharge': Can Diners Expect Extra Fees on Restaurant Bills During the Pandemic?

May 14, 2020
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The next time you're able to eat out, you may want to double check your receipt.

Restaurants who have been turned upside down during the COVID-19 pandemic are looking at ways to get back in the swing of when their establishments begin to reopen as states relax stay-home orders.

Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge, an establishment in West Plains, Missouri, has recently added a "COVID-19 surcharge" to help manage costs during the coronavirus pandemic, reported Today.

Since implementing this new change, customers and people on social media have had mixed reactions to Kiko's new policy.

A customer who ate at the restaurant posted a picture of her receipt that sparked national attention across Twitter.

The user captioned the photo, "'Scuse me ... what? A covid surcharge...?"

Other users on the site were confused about how a restaurant could implement this specific policy. Many voiced their concerns and were not thrilled.

Other users asked if customers were told about this new change prior to ordering from the restaurant.

Still others disagreed and said they would not mind paying a surcharge to support local business during ongoing health crisis that was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March.

Billy Yuzar, the restaurant owner and managing partner, said that the 5% surcharge was created on May 6. The restaurant decided to implement this charge when prices increased for meat, seafood, and vegetables from a local supplier.

"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," Yuzar said.

The owner added that his business planned on taking the surcharge off when prices return to normal.

According to Missouri's state laws, his restaurant is only allowed to have 25% capacity in dining rooms. As concerns still continue over the deadly virus, he decided to offer customers an option to order takeout.

Before making this decision, the restaurant posted a sign notifying customers of the surcharges in its store, as well as online on its social media accounts.

Yuzar said customers have generally been understanding about the change, but the business has received complaints.

The restaurant shared that it decided to remove the surcharge and raise menu prices.

"We can take the harassment on our social media, but when they start being ugly to our employees here, it really bothers us," he said. "This is why we decided to just eat the cost of printing new menu and adjust it weekly. We will go back to our normal prices once food prices go back to normal."

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