A restaurant owner in West Palm Beach, FL, has decided that cutting the hours of his employees isn't the only way he's going to pay for their health care. John Metz, franchisor for Hurricane Grill & Wings and owner of RREMC Restaurants, which operates several Denny's and Dairy Queen locations, is adding a five percent surcharge to the bills of customers to cover what he thinks will be the increased costs of Obamacare. Oh, and he's still cutting employees hours.
Metz feels as though this is his only option. "If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare...Although it may sound terrible that I'm doing this, it's the only alternative. I've got to pass the cost on to the consumer," he explained.
Metz allegedly plans to begin his program in January 2014, when Obamacare is implemented in full. Hurricane Grill & Wings has 48 locations; five are corporate owned. RREMC Restaurants runs about 40 Denny's locations and multiple Dairy Queens.
Metz insists that he's not anti-insurance, saying that the expense of coverage for full-time employees is currently $5,000-$6,000 a year. He says he'd like to cover all of his employees under that, but "to pay $5,000 per employee would cost us $175,000 per restaurant, and unfortunately, most of our restaurants don't make $175,000 a year. I can't afford it."
Metz also claims that the surcharge is being added to make a statement (oh, word?). "We're trying to get more restaurant operators rallied around the concept of adding a 5 percent surcharge to their bill to cover the costs of Obamacare as opposed to raising prices." So, if people decide not to eat at his restaurants, then who's to blame?