With the coronavirus pandemic massively impacting the economy, some restaurants still serving takeout have started to employ a COVID-19 surcharge to combat rising operating costs. As Today reports, a number of customers across the country have started to notice charges add to their takeout orders. While some have been understanding about the additional charges, the practice has already provoked a mixed response.
The idea of a COVID-19 surcharge first started to make rounds last week after a restaurant in West Plains, Missouri released a statement about the surcharge. "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," Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge said in a statement, indicating that operational costs have increased amid the pandemic. "Please understand we can't control the rising cost of meat, seafood, poultry & produces prices."
That didn't stop people from highlighting the additional charges on social media, with some calling the practice ridiculous.
Restaurant owner and managing partner Billy Yuzar confirmed the receipt and COVID-19 surcharge were legitimate, and that it's the result of rising meat, seafood, and vegetable costs.
"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 told Today. "We also planned on taking this surcharge off completely once all the prices return to normal."
Due to the hostile response from some customers, however, Yuzar said that the restaurant has since raised the price of all items and scrapped the charge. "We can take the harassment on our social media, but when they start being ugly to our employees here, it really bothers us," he added. "We will go back to our normal prices once food prices go back to normal."
Some consumers in Michigan and San Diego have also started to notice coronavirus-related fees on their bills.