Reports of a ‘Covid-19 surcharge' being added to restaurant bills in the United States have met a frosty reception amongst both guests and operators here in the UK.
Missouri restaurant Kiko Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge faced a backlash and employees were reportedly harassed after a post of a receipt with a ‘Covid-19 surcharge' went viral on social media.
In a Facebook post the restaurant said that, due to increased prices by its suppliers, it had hoped to introduce a fluctuating weekly surcharge. It has since opted to increase prices across the menu following the backlash.
"It's difficult enough to justify/explain restaurant prices as they are never mind adding surcharges", Catch 22 Brasserie in Anglesey posted on Twitter.
Mark Birchall, chef-patron of two-Michelin-starred Moor Hall in Aughton, Lancashire, told The Caterer to add such a surcharge would be "asking for trouble".
He said: "I just think people won't go. You'll lose more people than you'll gain… Everything should just be correctly priced."
Paddy Smith, co-owner of Liverpool-based Red & Blue Restaurants, said he is hearing of prospective price increases from his suppliers. He thinks it will be "a real issue" when restaurants do begin to reopen later this year.
"The only way we could do it in Liverpool would be to make it a discretionary contribution for guests," he said, "I think even that wouldn't make the difference."
He said the biggest issue for his businesses to "stand a chance" will be rent and VAT cuts, "then we'd make our own cost savings across the business until things can return to some kind of normality".
He and fellow Liverpool hospitality businesses are also working with the local authorities, looking at pedestrianising streets to allow them to add al fresco covers, and he is hoping to convert the basement at one of his restaurants into a bar, "so we can get back up to some level of decent occupancy".
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