The restaurant industry has been hurting since the onset of COVID-19 in March, and subsequent closures have put many restaurants out of business. Those still keeping the lights on are forced to do so with reduced hours and limited capacity, dealing a significant blow to their already thin profit margins. As winter approaches, and outdoor seating gets trickier, restaurants are set to face some real financial hurdles. That’s why the New York City Council passed a bill last week allowing restaurants to add a 10 percent surcharge to diners’ checks, which is intended to give economic relief to restaurants through the winter months.
The bill will officially go into effect once signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has supported its passage. It doesn’t apply to food trucks and most chain restaurants.
Restaurant owners can use the extra charge to pay for any aspect of their business, as long as they specify to customers that the fee is not a tip for waitstaff. Some in the New York restaurant scene believe the COVID-19 Recovery Charge could actually negatively impact restaurant staff, as customers may choose to tip less.
The charge will remain in place for 90 days after capacity limits are lifted.