NYC Approves Restaurant Surcharge To Aid Recovery

  Last modified on September 19th, 2020

To help NYC restaurant owners recover from the pandemic, the New York City Council has approved a bill which will soon allow them to add a surcharge of up to 10% to their patron’s bills (as long as this surcharge is clearly disclosed on the menu and bill).

This optional surcharge will be in effect for 90 days after indoor dining is allowed at full capacity; indoor dining is set to return to NYC on September 30, though at a maximum capacity of 25%.

The bill states that “current rules prohibit restaurants from charging any fees other than the listed price of food and drink, even if such surcharge is clearly disclosed,” and that the new bill “would help restaurants by temporarily allowing them to add a “COVID-19 Recovery Charge” of up to 10% of a customer’s total bill.”

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Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance and First Vice Chair of Community Board 7, commends the City Council for their recent action, and made the following statement:

“New York City restaurants have been financially devastated, and it only makes matters worse that a 45-year-old regulation discriminates against only the restaurant industry by prohibiting these small businesses from having the option of using a clearly disclosed surcharge, if they so choose. The passage of the Covid-19 recovery bill will help struggling restaurants generate additional revenue to help pay for expenses like PPE for their employees, outdoor dining setups, rent, labor and other expenses to give them a fighting chance of survival. We commend the City Council for passing this important temporary legislation and urge Mayor de Blasio to sign it into law immediately.”

However, not everyone is happy with the new bill. Saru Jayaraman, President of One Fair Wage, presented the concern that this surcharge could cut into the tips waiters rely on, reports Eater.

Others fear the 10% surcharge will discourage patrons from dining out in the first place. The New York Times spoke with several NYC restaurant owners who share this concern. Nick Criscitelli, owner of Little Italy’s Da Nico Ristorante, told the publication he has no plans to incorporate the surcharge. Neither does Kalergis Dellaportas of Astoria’s Bel Aire Diner or Philippe Massoud of Flatiron’s Ilili.

The bill was however passed, and by a large margin of 46-2.

Bill sponsors include Joseph C. Borelli, Laurie A. Cumbo, Keith Powers , Karen Koslowitz, Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., Ben Kallos, Costa G. Constantinides, Margaret S. Chin, and Deborah L. Rose.

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