Kiko Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge added a $2.19 “Covid 19 surcharge” to a customer’s bill and the Sashimi hit the fan. A customer posted a picture of the receipt on social media and now people are harassing the restaurant and the staff. The owner of the Missouri restaurant said the surcharge is due to the fact that the price of poultry and meat has steadily risen and this will offset the increase in his costs. However, because there has been such an outcry he will now eliminate the surcharge and raise prices across the board.
Anybody who has been grocery shopping knows the price of meat and poultry has gone up. We also know in many places there are limits on how many packages you can buy. We also know there have been many outbreaks of Covid 19 at meat processing plants. None of this is a secret or seems nefarious.
We also, know restaurants that are open, even if for just pick-up and delivery have had to spend money on unanticipated costs such as plexiglass, curtains, gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer in order to provide a safe working environment for both staff and customer. If the restaurants are open for eat in service we know they are operating at a fraction of their normal capacity in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. We also know that business in many restaurants is down and while their rent stays the same price. However, the food that they serve you has skyrocketed in price.
The question is with all that we know do we expect the restaurant to absorb the rise in expenses. Eating out for Americans is a luxury. For the owners and workers it is their livelihood. I don’t think we can realistically expect restaurants to absorb these costs. However, I know I don’t like seeing extra taxes. Even though it may be justifiable I am adverse to extra charges and fees. That probably comes from outrageous service charges when I order tickets for entertainment and from the airlines gouging us with surcharges. If you look at your bill the next time you buy a plane ticket check out how they still charge you a fuel surcharge from when jet fuel was really high (it isn’t now and has not been for a while) or a 9/11 fee. We are almost twenty years removed from 9/11. When I see those fees I feel like I am being taken advantage of. Worse, experience tells me those fees will probably never come off any future orders. Many times they are not even included in the list price. Something will cost $20 and then there is another $15 dollars in fees. I feel like I was lied to. They claim they are trying to be transparent.
The reality is I feel it is more transparent if they just tell me what it will all cost when I place my order. I don’t want an unexpected surprise at the end. I understand if they raise prices across the board I may wind up paying more for something. I just mentally write that off as the cost of doing business which it is. However, when there is an unexpected fee I feel like a fast one was pulled on me. It is all mental and I understand that but perception is everything. Charge me a bit more but let me see that up front. That way I can decide if I want to purchase it or not. I will feel better and if I ask why the prices went up you can just tell me. Most people won’t ask. Two dollars is not going to make or break anyone eating at a steakhouse but feeling good about your purchase is priceless.
We will discuss this and more on Davin’s Den this Tuesday night at 6:30 PM Est.