Many restaurants are simply trying to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but food delivery apps are taking a big cut of every delivery, and food costs are rising. Now, many customers are noticing a new charge on their receipts.
According to Today, many restaurants have begun adding a COVID-19 surcharge to their orders and customers are surprised by the new charge. The issue was brought to the nation’s attention when a woman posted a photo of her receipt from the Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge in West Plains, Missouri.
“‘Scuse me … what? A covid surcharge…?” Twitter user @talialikeitis wrote Monday.
The internet was quick to react negatively as customers have also had to sacrifice money during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 26 million people in the U.S. are currently unemployed with the number rising every day.
However, some customers were happy to pay an extra fee to help out their favorite local eatery.
Kiko Japanese Steakhouse’s owner and managing partner Billy Yuzar told Today the surcharge was implemented in early May due to a noticeable price increase on meat, seafood, and vegetables from their 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 told NBC. “We also planned on taking this surcharge off completely once all the prices return to normal.”
According to CNBC, prices for groceries jumped 2.6% in the month of April. The percentage is the largest increase since 1974. Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 4.3%; fruits and vegetables climbed 1.5%; cereals and bakery products advanced 2.9%; dairy goods gained 1.5%.
The state of Missouri has allowed local restaurants to reopen their dining rooms at 25% capacity but many, including Kiko Japanese Steakhouse, have decided to stay closed to the public and continue to serve takeout only.
Yuzar said his restaurant posted multiple signs about the surcharge and most customers were understanding. However, once the post of the receipt went viral, the restaurant was slammed with complaints.
In response, the restaurant has eliminated the surcharge and raised the price of menu items.
“We can take the harassment on our social media, but when they start being ugly to our employees here, it really bothers us,” Yuzar told NBC. “This is why we decided to just eat the cost of printing new menus and adjust it weekly. We will go back to our normal prices once food prices go back to normal.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the restaurant industry so hard that some large chain restaurants applied for and received funds earmarked for small businesses. Many of them gave the funds back after pressure from the public.