A photo of a receipt with a “COVID-19 surcharge” gained national attention after making the rounds on social media.
Some commenters were outraged at the charge and accused the Missouri-based restaurant—where the receipt is from—of taking advantage of its customers. But the restaurant pleaded with online harassers to understand they’re just adjusting to increased prices from suppliers, the restaurant wrote in a Facebook post.
“Please understand we are not doing this to take advantage of you guys! We are doing this hoping we can adjust the surcharge weekly rather than just raise all of our prices on our menu due to increase prices from our supplier on meat,poultry,seafood & produce,” Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge explained in a Facebook post.
“‘Scuse me … what? A covid surcharge…?” Twitter user @talialikeitis wrote along with the photo.
Though a local TV station reported that the charge is perfectly legal, the restaurant and its employees were flooded with harassment after the picture of the receipt started getting attention.
“I would defintely not eat there or any restaurant that charges a surcharge for the Covid 19,” wrote @LIVINFORTHELORD in a tweet.
“Wtf is that?! A covid surcharge on food?!?!” tweeted @ELLEinfinity
There were so many negative messages that the restaurant had to ask people to please stop calling their employees names.
“They are just working there, go ask the meat packer not us!! We are just buying it from them!!” the owner wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page. They also included a CNBC article on the broken meat supply chain to prove the price increase is a top-down problem.
In an interview with a local TV station, Kiko manager Sarah Sherwood said the price of meat and seafood has almost doubled. But the increased prices are temporary. If ingredient prices go down so will menu prices.
It got to the point that the nasty messages bullied the restaurant into removing the 5% surcharge. But without the added tax the restaurant had to raise its prices to offset how much more they’re paying for ingredients.
But it seems the Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge isn’t the only business attempting balance out increased prices from suppliers and manufacturers. A number of area restaurants—including a BBQ joint and diner—are doing the same thing. And it seems businesses outside of Missouri may follow suit.
But comments under the restaurant’s Facebook post indicate Kiko’s actual customers are understanding of the slight price bump, and their hate is probably coming from online trolls.
“These people should be ashamed!!! We are very grateful that u have stayed open for pick-up orders! People need to understand that you have no control over prices and are doing your best!” wrote one community member.
*First Published: May 13, 2020, 8:14 pm