New York restaurants close to receiving COVID supplement
New Yorkers love to eat out, but they are starting to complain about a coronavirus supplement that can add up to 10% to the final bill.
The supplement – approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio last October – was introduced to help Big Apple restaurants survive the pandemic. But many New Yorkers say they are just starting to notice this has been added to their bills as restaurants with increased outdoor seating capacity start to fill up like 2019.
“My colleagues and I were only talking about the COVID accusations. It’s a hot topic, ”said Yovanka Bylander, who works at an investment advisory firm. “I noticed it when I was out recently, and a coworker said he noticed it at his birthday dinner at Don Angie” in the West Village.
“It was just a 4% COVID surcharge and he was okay with that. But sometimes you get a 10% surprise at the end. I mean, come on. We all want to help, but restaurants need to be transparent about it, ”she said.
A source from Don Angie said the supplement was helping offset the additional costs of COVID and the restaurant was charging 4% instead of 10% because it didn’t want to rip off its customers. “So far,” the source said, “our customers have been very positive and supportive.”
Restaurants that add the supplement are required to notify the customer in advance. Many of them do this with a notice attached to the menu, but diners say it often goes unnoticed until the bill arrives.
“It’s boring, and the higher the supplement, the more boring it becomes,” said one restaurant that asked not to be named. “I’d rather they tell you in advance, because even if it’s written on the menu, you can miss it.”
A Tribeca resident and chief operating officer of a tech company said he was surprised when he was recently slapped with an extra 5% at Serafina.
“It was very clear on the bill, but there was no message about it beforehand,” he said. “We always tip 25% after tax, so the COVID campaign element supplement was significant.”
A source from Serafina said the restaurant verbally informs customers of the supplement when ordering.
Local law is designed to expire 90 days after the New York state of emergency is lifted. It’s unclear when that will happen, although restorative capacity is expected to return to 100% on May 19.
City officials say there are currently no plans to take the pesky surcharge off the table.
Aristotle “Telly” Hatzigeorgiou of Clinton Hall said the city’s resurgence convinced him to remove the 10% surcharge from Friday.
“We hope this relaxation of the strict rules will bring out the diners,” he said. “And we want to reward these customers by eliminating the 10% fee that has helped us meet the extra expense to keep our staff and customers safe.”