A Florida chain restaurant is now charging customers a 1 percent surcharge to cover the costs of the Affordable Care Act.
Eight Gator's Dockside restaurants have instituted the charge so that they can give their full-time employees health insurance starting in December. The chain anticipates potentially debilitating compliance costs related to the ACA's employer mandate.
"The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors," read the signs posted on the restaurants’ doors and tables. "Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator's Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only."
"We wanted to be transparent about it," Gators Dockside general manager Jeff Adkins told Fox 13 of the new policy. "We didn't want to hide it."
Gator’s Dockside restaurant has 500 employees, about half of whom are full-time. All full-time employees will have to be provided with health insurance, instead of just management.
The company calculated that the employer mandate would cost them $500,000 without the surcharge. They hope to bring the tab down to $160,000.
The company says it would rather charge the nominal fee than cut employee hours.
"I'm just trying to keep the employees I have that I've worked hard to train," said Sandra Clark, director of operations.
But not all customers have taken kindly to what they see as a political move.
"I've had a customer leave a slip on the table saying, 'My tip reflects how I feel about this' -- and they'll have no tip there," server Sarah Woosley told Fox 13.
For the restaurant, it’s all the cost of doing business.
“We’re definitely doing it to stay afloat,” Clark told WPEC. “It’s not political in any way.”