From this weekend, eateries at restaurants and bars in New York City could see an additional fee added to their final bill.
Restaurants in the city are now allowed to add a COVID-19 recovery fee for restaurants eating indoors or outdoors – takeaway and delivery orders are excluded. Participating restaurants must clearly show any additional costs in their menus.
Last month, the NYC Council approved legislation to add up to 10% “COVID-19 Recovery Charge” to a customer’s total bill. Councilman Joseph C. Borelli, who introduced the bill, says city restaurants have suffered significantly from the coronavirus pandemic and they need additional help to get their businesses back on track.
“These costs will drop by 90 days after the restaurant̵
It is designed to pull extra money into restaurants that suffer from pandemic restrictions. However, some owners and servers fear that the surcharge may result in smaller eating tabs and tips. 4s Gaby Acevedo reports.
The State of Iceland Republican said he believes the extra money could be a lifeline used to support restaurant staff through the pandemic.
“Use it to add a supplement for their kitchen staff, to add a supplement for health care or paid sick leave to their employees,” Borelli suggested.
According to the law, only small restaurants can use the surcharge, which must be clearly stated on the dining bill. Pushcarts, racks, vehicles or large chains are not included in the bill.
In a statement, a workers’ rights group opposed the bill, saying the proposed supplement without guarantees of a minimum wage for employees could harm workers.
“If the city council allows employers to add a supplement without these employers paying their workers a full minimum wage, the supplement will cut workers’ already reduced customer tips without any guarantee that restaurant workers with tips will receive the mere minimum wage, Fair Salary President Saru Jayaraman said.
Even some restaurant owners question whether customers charge more to eat out – which some hesitate to do anyway – will really help them recover.
“I think they’re chasing people away from restaurants instead of luring them and dragging them into restaurants to try to create more business,” said Scott Giunta, owner of Arturo Restaurant in Greenwich Village. “(Customers) do not take their alcohol, they do not take the dessert. They just take the basics and go home.”
Carol Giunta, head of the restaurant, said the bill could work against servers as officials could potentially see their tips fall on a smaller dinner bill.
“Maybe customers will think, ‘They get 10 percent, that’s part of the waiter’s service tip,'” she said.
Still some see the potential benefits.
“I’m not sure if that will help, but I think it’s a step in the right direction, because without funding they could go out of business in the long run,” said Spencer Kosterinsky, a customer of the restaurant. “As long as I knew something about it beforehand. If I saw it without knowing anything about it, it would make me a little sad.”