- Restaurants are adding COVID-19 surcharges to combat rising meat prices during the coronavirus pandemic.
- However, after facing backlash, some restaurants have been forced to remove the surcharges, with many raising menu prices instead.
- Fresh meat prices were up 8.1% at the end of April, with experts saying they could rise by up to 20% in the coming weeks.
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Angry customers are complaining about restaurants adding COVID-19 surcharges. But, owners say they are simply trying to stay in business as food costs skyrocket.
Earlier this week, a tweet showing the receipt from Kiko Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge in West Plains, Missouri, went viral after a customer noticed a “COVID-19 surcharge.” Many responded with outrage, questioning why the coronavirus pandemic would lead to the restaurant adding on a 5% surcharge.
‘Scuse me … what? A covid surcharge…? pic.twitter.com/IYcrkcqIJ3— Talia (@talialikeitis) May 11, 2020
According to a post on Kiko’s Facebook page, the outrage continued off-line. The restaurant owner wrote that employees had been harassed due to the photo of the receipt.
“Please understand we are not doing this to take advantage of you guys!” the post reads. “We are doing this hoping we can adjust the surcharge weekly rather than just raise all of our prices on our menu due to increase prices from our supplier on meat, poultry, seafood & produce.”
The post questioned why people were harassing Kiko workers when meat suppliers had raised prices due to the “broken” meat supply chain.
Meat plants have been forced to close due to COVID-19 outbreaks in recent weeks, causing prices to skyrocket. Fresh meat prices were up 8.1% at the end of April, and experts say prices could increase by an unprecedented 20% in the coming months.
Kiko announced it would remove the surcharge, instead raising prices on all menu items.
West Plains local news station KY3 reported that two other local restaurants, Ozark Cafe and Bootleggers BBQ, had also added 5% surcharges. While many customers told KY3 they were happy to pay, Buffalo BBQ announced earlier this week it was dropping the surcharge, instead choosing to raise prices.
“We appreciate all of your support and understanding during this very unusual trying times!” the restaurant posted on Facebook. “Please remember we are all human, treat each other with decency and respect, and let’s try to get along and get through this together!”
Purple Cow, a diner in Kingsport, Tennessee, also ended a surcharge on beef prices this week “due to confusion.” After a burst of angry Facebook comments, the restaurant announced it would instead change the prices on individual menu items, apologizing for any inconvenience.
Goog’s Pub and Grub in Holland, Michigan wrote on Facebook that it has seen remarkable support since adding a $1 “COVID charge,” to counteract sky-rocketing beef prices. An Instagram photo, spotted by NBC’s Today show, appears to show a $1 carne asada surcharge at Ramberto’s in San Diego.