Few industries have been hit as hard as the entertainment, food, and travel industries. While restaurants have been able to barely scrape by with delivery and take-out orders, other businesses are forcing customers to cough up more money in order to support their bottom lines. Some restaurants have even resorted to charging customers a “COVID-19” tax to squeeze more money out of diners in this devastating time of economic and political turmoil.

The restaurant that first got attention for instituting the “COVID-19 surcharge,” was Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge in West Plains, Missouri. Their COVID-19 surcharge has been making them a few extra dollars during these turbulent times when they’ve not been able to get as much business as they are used to.

Although the restaurant was doing what it had to in order to survive, customers and people on social media were outraged that they were expected to pay to keep restaurants open when the government should be offering them more support and governmental assistance.

When a picture of the receipt was posted to Twitter, dozens of people jumped at the opportunity to complain about the COVID-19 surcharge.

“‘Scuse me … what? A COVID surcharge…?,” one person wrote.

Another added: “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.

However, other people felt that a small surcharge was a small price to pay to keep businesses and restaurants open in their community.

Readers assumed the restaurant notified customers that the new fee would be added to the bill.’

“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 his restaurant instituted a meager 5% surcharge as of May 6, 2020. That’s because the cost of the ingredients in their food dramatically increased amid the global economic pressures.

“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.

Yuzar clarified that his business posted signs to draw customers’ attention to the new surcharge. They were not trying to shock customers with an increased price for items at their restaurant. They simply wanted to cover their costs to stay operational.

Local restaurants are not getting much support during these trying times. They’ve got to come up with creative ways to keep their doors open.

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.”

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