Everyday Cheapskate: New Restaurant Fees Showing up on the Bill
Times are tough. Inflation is at a 40-year high. Restaurants continue to face budget-busting challenges from the pandemic and labor crisis. But that's not all. As I write this sentence, food prices have increased by 18%, a number that may be even higher as you read.
Here's the weird thing. You may look at the menu for your favorite restaurant and see a few price hikes, but nothing that seems anywhere near 18%.
What's up? Are restauranteurs morphing into benevolent philanthropists? Uh, that would be a negative, although according to OpenTable data, as a group, restaurateurs say they got into the business because they want to take care of people.
That being said, the answer, my friends, is blowing through the bill. While nothing that follows has become standardized, it helps paint a picture of what is most certainly coming to restaurants near you.
FORGET FREE REFILLS
Bottomless sodas will soon be something for our kids' I-remember-when collection to tell their kids. Soft drinks and coffee are not a massive expense for a restaurant, but they are not free, either. Finding enough staff to perform beverage refills will make the practice a thing of the past.
SPREAD THE PAIN
Even though pasta, for example, costs the restaurant about the same as it did months ago, you may see big jumps for pasta dishes. The price of some foods -- steak, for example -- have gone through the roof, so a restauranteur may shift some of that cost increase to other menu items to keep customers happy.
CHARGING FOR EVERYTHING
We're hearing about restaurants charging for add-ons such as condiments, coffee cream, ranch and more. Don't be surprised to see a slew of 50-cent or $1.00 charges on the bill for previously complimentary items.