Should restaurants charge a pandemic fee?
Bonnie Brae Tavern in Denver has joined a number of other restaurants around the U.S. adding a “COVID-19” fee to its bills. The charge is two dollars for any purchase over $10.
“We didn’t want to be extravagant with it but we hope people understand we had to do it in order to keep the doors open,” the establishment’s co-owner Michael Diresaid told Fox21News in Denver.
Bonnie Brae Tavern’s sales are down 40 to 60 percent as it has significantly reduced seating capacity to keep customers safe. New sanitation requirements such as gloves have added expenses.
Miami’s The New Wave Billiards is adding a three-percent ”COVID-19 fee” to customers’ bills to cover the costs of fiberglass partitions, new signage and cleaning supplies. The restaurant’s owner Alfredo Pineres told NBC Miami, “The sanitizers have gone from $15 to $60, $70 a gallon. It’s a burden.”
In Hollard, MI, Goog’s Pub & Grub is charging a flat fee of $1.00 per meal to cover rising food prices and the costs of disposable containers and utensils.
“Other places are just raising their price and not telling you,” the pub’s owner Brad White told Fox 17 in West Michigan. “It’s going to be a while before the food industry, the suppliers catch up.”
Articles have also surfaced describing dentist offices, hair salons and nightclubs charging COVID-19 surcharges as businesses look to offset added costs and revenue shortfalls.
The surcharges have led to some backlash on social media from customers surprised to find fees on their bill. The restaurants generally claim to have detailed the fee on their websites and in signs at the establishments.
The increased incidence of fees has led to some debate over whether establishments should add a fee for transparency purposes or just covertly raise prices, as usual. Food journalist and hospitality consultant Erica Bethe Levin, told the local CBS affiliate in Chicago, “If want our restaurants to survive, and you know we all do, they’re such a big part of our lives, then there has to be some give and take, we have to give in a little bit, too.”
- ‘We had to do it’; Denver restaurant charges COVID fee – Fox21News
- Miami Restaurant Charges Customers ‘COVID-19 Fee’ To Cover Pandemic-Related Costs – NBC Miami
- West Michigan restaurant implementing ‘COVID Charge’ – Fox 17
- Harold’s Chicken Charges 26% ‘COVID-19 Fee’ On Bills, Claiming Spike In Food Supply Prices – CBS Chicago
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would you recommend restaurants charge a COVID-19 fee to offset rising sanitation, food and other costs tied to the pandemic? How transparent should business establishments be about the challenges they’re facing?