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May 11, 2010 03:55 PM

How should a restaurant disclose that it is charging extra for providing employee health insurance? Or should it all?

I was recently at a restaurant in San Francisco where the menu stated something to the effect of the following:

"A 4% charge provides sick leave and health insurance for all employees"

Now, I have no problem with a restaurant charging more in order to provide decent wages and health benefits for its employees. In fact, on balance, I'm probably in favor of it. But that's not the point of this post.

What I am curious about is whether it is necessary to disclose it in such an obvious fashion.

Is it really necessary that a restaurant says it will add X to your bill so that its employees can get medical coverage?

Couldn't the restaurant do the same just be adding a %increase across the board for all its menu items, and the diner wouldn't be the wiser?

Do you care that a restaurant specifically tells you how much higher its prices are (or how much higher your tab will be) in order to provide certain benefits to its employees?

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  1. I agree that this statement is "gratuitous". Perhaps there is a competitive one-upsmanship situation among SF restaurants. With a mandate for national health care, this sort of thing shouldn't increase in prevalence. I see no need for a restaurant or any other business to announce to customers what it is spending on various business costs. This is as foolish as it would be to declare that 3% of their income is spent on the exterminator - TMI!

    2 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      "A 4% charge provides private school tuition for all my children"

      1. re: ipsedixit

        A 4% surcharge pays for the gas in my boat.

    2. "Glad you asked about the chocolate souflees. If I sell three of them tonight, I win a free colonoscopy."
      That'll bring 'em back.

      1. These threads have some information on restaurant menus with similar statements....


        4 Replies
        1. re: hannaone

          That's the thing. I am well aware of the SF ordinance that was finally affirmed by the 9th Cir. back in Jan 08, and whether you agree with the law or not, I see no requirement that a restaurant actually disclose to the customer the surcharge they are levying to comply with the law, right?

          So, in putting it on the menu explicitly or the bill, is this just some sort of passive-agressive way to protest the ordinance?

          1. re: ipsedixit

            That was what some of the discussion on those threads seemed to point out.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Yes, it's a political statement. Of course, if you're choosing to reflect the cost of the health insurance requirements by adding a surcharge, then you do have to disclose the fact there's a surcharge. But the fact that they choose to impose a surcharge instead of factoring the expense into their prices just as they do with all their other expenses is a political statement. I don't see them saying "we're adding a 4 percent surcharge because our utility bills are up"!

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                The restaurant must have some pretty high prices if a 4% surcharge is enough to cover health insurance.

          2. It's an obvious political statement.

            1. That's interesting. A restaurant I've been going to for a long time that has a long history has the story of the restaurant printed on one side of the menu. If I were the restaurant owner, I would have the story of the restaurant on the menu, and I don't think I'd get down quite so far to brass tacks, but I'd point out that one of the reasons we don't have rock bottom prices is that we do right by our employees.

              PS Now having read the whole thread I agree that the restaurant appears to be trying to rabble rouse against the law ... surely SF is the wrong place for that. I recently encountered a recorded statement from an administrator of a government program--they were clearly peeved by a change in the law that meant they needed to change the way they were doing things. I was frankly amazed, since the overall law's existence is the only reason they have a business ...

              2 Replies
              1. re: foiegras

                San Francisco? The wrong place to rabble rouse? Surely you are kidding.

                1. re: PeterL

                  My point is that SF is well known as liberal ... there's a reason why this law exists in SF and not, for example, in the red state where I live. I would hope (as a native San Franciscan) that the majority want to do the right thing ...