Skip to content

This New Fee Is the Reason Why Dining Out Is So Expensive Right Now

It's necessary for some establishments to add this surcharge to customers' tabs to stay in business.
bill from restaurant

The pandemic has imposed many challenges on restaurants, especially independently-owned ones. Since so many local establishments were forced to shut down entirely during the spring, they lack funds to purchase necessary items to protect staff and customers from contracting the coronavirus. As a result, they have no choice but to add what's called a COVID-19 surcharge onto diners' bills.

While some restaurants were able to remain open during the shutdown, by offering takeaway and delivery options, sales still fell dramatically short of what they would accumulate with their dining rooms open. In addition, the cost of running a restaurant during the pandemic is proving to be markedly more expensive than what it costs to operate during normal times. (Stay informed: Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest coronavirus foods news delivered straight to your inbox.)

The dramatic increase in expenses is largely attributable to purchasing adequate supplies of PPE including face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Not to mention, business owners have had to adopt stricter cleaning regimens to stay up to par with CDC guidelines. Of course, the reopening process is far from inexpensive.

According to Eater, it cost the owner of Detroit-based restaurant, Saffron De Twah, between $8,000 and $10,000 to open his restaurant again after the mandated closure. To make up for months of lost sales, expenses that came from reordering food, protective gear, and equipment for deep cleaning, some business owners have had no other choice but to tack a surcharge onto their customers' bills.

For example, NBC News recently reported that at local eatery, Harold's Chicken on Broadway in Chicago, Illinois, customers were expected to pay an additional 26% fee at one point. The surcharge has since dropped, but the business is still in need of extra funds.

A worker from the establishment is quoted saying, "This is just a real power struggle for us to be able to stay in business."

Aside from restaurants and bars, a COVID-19 surcharge fee is also being added to other services, such as those you would receive at the salon and even at the dentist. Not all establishments will tell you about these fees, though, so be sure to inquire about them prior to going in so you know what to expect.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
Filed Under