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Some restaurants add up to 20% surcharge to your bill. should they?

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The 16th annual Chicago Restaurant Week is underway. Set menus are available for brunch, lunch and dinner at some of Chicago’s most famous restaurants.

This year, 362 stores affiliated with the host organization Choose Chicago participated. Despite being billed as a more affordable way for many to try different restaurants, some eateries are adding surcharges that affect discounts advertised by event organizers. .

A review of the menus of participating restaurants by The Chicago Sun-Times found that 39 out of 362 restaurants charge customers a surcharge of 3% to 20% (excluding tax and tip). rice field. Of the 39 restaurants with additional or service charges, 29 are part of restaurant groups such as Lettuce Entertain You and Dynamic Hospitality, and 10 are privately owned.

Specially selected 3-course meals offered during Restaurant Week (through February 5) are priced by the organizers at $25 for brunch/lunch and $42 or $59 for dinner ( Prices are per person). select chicago It said it had no policy to address the surcharges introduced by some restaurants.

In New York City, restaurant surcharges had to be removed from receipts within 90 days after capacity restrictions were lifted following the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, while Chicago No deletion has occurred. According to the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Office, restaurants can keep surcharges or service charges as long as they follow two of his rules: 1) Price increases must be disclosed prior to purchase and 2) Additional charges are tax.

For a party of two going to Split-Rail, a trendy comfort food and craft cocktail restaurant in a Ukrainian village, dinner for two during Restaurant Week is $141.60 instead of $118 (excluding tax and tip) ). 20% service chargeOwner and chef Zoe Shore said the year-round service charge “helps normalize costs in an industry made cheap by what is essentially a free labor force.”

“I don’t think so,” Scholl said when asked if the charges would negate Restaurant Week’s ethos of offering affordable fare to customers who normally can’t afford to go to the split rail. , “Everyone who comes here is welcome to ask about it. I always answer that I have it [our] website. “

Service charges and surcharges are negligible for Portage Park resident Mary Jo Perlongo, who said she attends Restaurant Week every year.

“Restaurant Week is a great time to check out popular and hard-to-reserve restaurants at great deals. said Perlongo.

She added that the service charge would make her look elsewhere.

“I will definitely reconsider any restaurant that charges a surcharge or service charge,” she said. “Don’t spoil it for the rest of us. What else are you planning to do in Chicago in January?”

George Karzas, owner of the Gale Street Inn, doesn't believe in surcharges on patrons' checks.

Gale Street Inn owner George Karzas doesn’t like using surcharges on restaurant patrons’ checks. His eatery does not use them.

Tyler Paciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation have undoubtedly hurt restaurant earnings, but George Calzas, longtime restaurateur and owner of the Gale Street Inn in Jefferson Park did not participate) said the following about additional fees and services: I feel a heavy burden for customers who are going through similar difficulties.

“I think you have to put that in the price of the food. These charges just smell a bit of a scam,” says Karzas. “Price up and decide if I’m worth it. You can’t stack it. I don’t like it.”

Of the 39 Restaurant Week eateries taking advantage of the surcharge, 22 are Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise (LEYE) brands, including the popular Hub 51, Wildfire and Beatrix. LEYE spokeswoman Stephanie Gutierrez said her LEYE, which has more than 120 restaurants in and around Chicago, charges customers her 3% surcharge to reduce costs associated with restaurants. offsetting the rise. .

Billy Jacobs, partner of Peace Pizza and the brewery, agreed the surcharge would be difficult, but restaurants face unprecedented challenges due to inflation and the cost of third-party delivery apps. I admitted that I was

“The problem I have with surcharges is that doing so makes messaging very difficult. bottom.

Piece, located in Wicker Park, does not participate in Restaurant Week, but does charge a 2.5% fee to cover health insurance for the staff listed on the menu. Jacobs says his 95% of customers have understood since adding it.

Rick Bayless’s Bar Sotano and Frontera Grill are participating in Restaurant Week. Regular 20% service charge According to the menu, it’s “to pay our staff a fair and reliable cost of living. If you enjoy our service, feel free to leave us something.”

DineAmic Hospitality has 5 restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, charging a 3% surcharge that patrons can request to be removed. Neither Bayless nor DineAmic responded to calls or emails seeking comment on the additional charges.

Mount Greenwood resident Natalie Coteles said restaurants need to be considerate when it comes to charging extra fees on checks.

“A reasonable surcharge is understandable,” Coteles said. “Inflation, COVID and rising rents are real and 3% seems reasonable, but 20% seems greedy.”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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