As the pandemic rages on, restaurants are struggling to keep menu prices low as the cost of food spikes. To help ease this burden, Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge in West Plains, Missouri, chose to implement a "COVID-19 surcharge."
The decision sparked various reactions from customers and social media users.
When a picture of a receipt from the restaurant was posted on Twitter, many comments were critical of the fee.
One person commented:"‘Scuse me ... what? A covid surcharge...?"
Another one wrote: “That’s ridiculous.”
“I will happily tip extra to my server but you aren't slapping a made up charge unless you tell me first. My pay has been cut though I've been able to work. Should I charge all my clients an extra fee to cover my bills at home?” one person wrote.
Some folks stated that were happy to pay the surcharge in order to help support the local businesses.
When some people asked whether customers had been informed about the new fee beforehand, one person replied: “I’m sure it was disclosed. It’s a small price to pay to support them and keep them open.”
Billy Yuzar, the restaurant owner and managing partner, told TODAY Food that the receipt posted online was authentic, and that the restaurant had implemented the 5% surcharge on May 6 after a noticeable price increase on seafood, meat, 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. We also planned on taking this surcharge off completely once all the prices return to normal," he said.
He explained that prior to implementing the fee, signs had been put on the front door, at the register, in the entryway, and on social media to give customers a heads up.
He explained that most of the local customers had understood the decision, but the restaurant began receiving numerous complaints from all over the country after the receipt was posted online.
The surcharge was removed this week, and the restaurant opted to raise the menu prices instead.
Yuzar said, "We can take the harassment on our social media, but when they start being ugly to our employees here, it really bothers us. This is why we decided to just eat the cost of printing new menu and adjust it weekly. We will go back to our normal prices once food prices go back to normal."