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bread surcharge

While my wife and I were at Celestin in Toronto for summerlicious, I asked to look at the regular dinner menu.

Now, I understand that costs have risen recently and this is reflected in the menu prices which range from $15-20+ for appetizers and $35-45 for mains

However, I was surprised to see that there was a "Bread Surcharge" of 75 cents per person.

A three course menu for 2 with wine might cost close or more than $250 with tip.

I think that this is a tacky not well thought out charge which most certainly will make me think about whether I will wish to dine there.


P.S. to add further insult to tackiness, the automatic 15% gratuity for Summerlicious patrons was calculated on the total check including government sales taxes and not solely on the food and beverage charges.

Thoughts anyone

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  1. I am with you I also dislike surcharges. Why not just raise the price of the main courses 75c?

    6 Replies
    1. re: smartie

      What a good idea, smartie! Wish I'd thought of it. :O)

      1. re: smartie

        Bacause not everyone wants bread. Should those people be charged for something they won't eat?

        1. re: invinotheresverde

          That's a good point. With the popularity of the low carb diet, bread gets wasted on some people. They don't want it, why should they be paying for it. Chinese restaurants charges for rice, so why not a bread charge.

          1. re: invinotheresverde

            I agree, not everyone wants bread. I do not understand why bread cannot be listed on the menu as a starter item. When traveling through New Zealand, we found many restaurants had bread on their menu. There were a few that provided bread automatically on the table, but if you wanted more you would have to pay for it.

          2. re: smartie

            Jfood's with Invino on this one.

            Why should everyone pay for something they may or may not want? It's not a surcharge, it's a charge unless of course the salad at $9 is a surcharge, the steak at $30 is a surcharge, etc.

            You want a G&T order and pay, soup, likewise. Let's get over this childish notion that because the restaurant served it in 1957, then it should do it forever. If you would like everything included in one price, it's a buffet. At a sit down meal. a la carte should separate the costs and the choices.

            Now if there is a reduction in the cost if jfood does not want the bread so that those who feel they want an all-inclusive meal, that would work for him. Heck, jfood takes advantage of the save $0.50 by not wanting the USA today when he travels on business. Saves paper, time and isn;t worth the cost.

            1. re: smartie

              Do posters that object to paying a surcharge for bread also only order prix fixe or tasting menus because you do not want to know the cost for each individual course?

              Count me as one that does not support bread subsidies.

            2. I haven't run across this, but you might want to see this thread:

              1. What you described has been standard practice in Italy for a very long time. This may be a new trend on this side of the pond, so it might be interesting to watch for this practice in other places also.

                The old saying was, "When in Rome...", but perhaps it will be altered to, "When in Toronto...".

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                  This is common in many other European countries as well. At a minimum, more restaurants in the US are now asking whether you'd like fresh bread instead of bringing it automatically, while others are starting to add a surcharge.

                2. I find the offensive part of this the sneaky nickel-and-diming, not the charge itself. Do they make it clear there is a charge? And really, what's next, a charge for the glass of tap water?

                  I dunno. I analogize this to my small law practice. I don't charge my clients for every stamp I use on their behalf, or every page I copy, because I think it's the price of doing business. I think maybe some restaurants need to eat the cost of water, lemon slices, and bread. Or just stop serving the bread. It's not usually all that fabulous anyway!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Vetter

                    i doubt that at your small law practice you employ a person to bake the stamps, or that the price of the ingredients of the baked stamps have tripled in the last year.

                  2. What is a restaurant to do?
                    Read some of the threads on the boards about increased prices, the economy, etc.
                    People are dining out less often now because of increased prices, yet the "free bread" crowd insist that restauarants should raise prices even more so that they can still provide "free" bread.
                    Okay, so the restaurant raises their prices and their customers choose to come in less often which results in lower profits and lost tips for the servers. Meanwhile operating costs remain the same or increase in cost to the restaurant, leading to possible job layoffs and/or closure.
                    This attitude just doesn't make any sense to me.

                    1. I agree with the first person who replied. If prices are already being raised, why not hide the bread surcharge in the new prices? You're just asking for pissed off customers (or lack thereof).

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Chew on That

                        If I don't like to eat bread before my meal why should I have to pay a hidden fee for my entree so that you and others get "free" bread?

                        1. re: Chew on That

                          Any time you raise prices, you're going to risk having pissed off customers -- whether it's a bread surcharge or whether it's "hidden" in the prices of the food. I'd rather have the bread surcharge because I can have the choice of eating the bread or not.

                          1. re: Chew on That

                            Let's see:

                            Choice A - Raise all the prices and if someone asks tell them it's because bread is included
                            Choice B - Keep prices the same and place a note on the menu that because of rising prices, people who would like bread before their meal will be charged $0.75.

                            So the people who do not eat bread are supporting those that want it. Maybe they should charge for parking even if you do not have a car.

                          2. In a way, it would be nice if there were a stated price for everything.

                            Often, I would like - say - an extra pickle on a sandwich.

                            It is embarassing to ask for one. Even though I don't expect it to be free, there is no way to gracefully let the waitperson know that an extra charge is all right. Besides, the waitperson may be uncertain about asking the kitchen.

                            If it were somehow clear that the price is $x.xx, then there would be no question.


                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Big Bunny

                              Bread surcharges are pretty common, as someone else said, in Europe. We experience it so much on our travels we have come to expect it. We are almost surprised when there isn't one! However, in one restaurant on the Cinque Terre not only did the menus have a bread surcharge there were also extra charges based on the amounts of olive oil and balsamico a person used! We decided to go to another restaurant...not for the $ amount charged per item but based on principle.

                              1. re: Big Bunny

                                "It is embarassing to ask for one. Even though I don't expect it to be free, there is no way to gracefully let the waitperson know that an extra charge is all right"

                                how about
                                "could i please have some extra pickle on that?"

                                and if they say there will be a charge you reply

                                "no problem"

                                1. re: thew

                                  and high end restaurants will call it a supplement

                                  1. re: thew

                                    And what if they just give you a nasty look (really happened.)


                                2. Tawnyport, a question I have that I don't think anyone has asked is: were you given a choice about whether you got bread? That is, did you order bread, were you offered bread with the explanation that there was a separate charge for it or was bread simply provided for you by a member of the service staff and then the charge was on the bill?

                                  I'm fine with restaurants charging for anything they want to charge for as a separate line item, so long as I have 1) notice about it and 2) a choice as to whether to use that item. If there's no choice, then it should be included in the price of the meal.