(NewsNation) — If you’ve been out to eat recently, you may have noticed an extra fee — or a few — as restaurants tack surcharges onto customers’ bills to offset rising food and other costs.
America has already been struggling with record-high inflation, affecting prices on everything from fuel to food. To combat surging prices and keep menu prices competitive, a number of restaurants have been adding service charges to the cost of a meal. There’s been a more than 36 percent increase in the number of restaurants adding these kinds of fees.
For example, at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, customers are being charged a $2 temporary fee. Some restaurants use different names for these charges: supply chain surcharge, a kitchen appreciation fee or even a fuel surcharge.
With MasterCard and Visa raising transaction fees earlier this year, another $1.2 billion is being paid by business owners. Some businesses are passing that so-called swipe fee, postponed by the companies last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, along to customers with a non-cash adjustment charge.
Troy Reding, president of Ally Restaurants LLC, said some people do complain about these extra charges — but most don’t.
“A lot of people are supportive, especially since we talked about what our benefits are,” Reding said. These include full coverage of mental health benefits for all employees at his restaurants and their families.
These fees help to cover these benefits, which in turn helps Reding’s restaurants stay competitive at a time when businesses are still struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re not even in the stage of playing catch-up yet. We are still trying to break even at one of our restaurants,” Reding said. “Due to rising costs and the supply chain issues and the labor shortages, the costs are increasing quicker than we could possibly raise prices.”