The discussion around paying restaurant workers a livable wage grew more heated today, with news that Restaurants Unlimited, Inc., a Seattle-based restaurant franchise, has added a one-percent surcharge to all customer bills. If you dine at Henry's Tavern, Portland City Grill, Manzana, Newport City Grill, or any of the franchise's other restaurants in Oregon or Washington (and potentially its restaurants in the other eight states in which it operates), expect to find the charge on your next check.
Restaurants Unlimited has yet to respond to a request for comment, but an employee at Henry's Tavern did speak with Fox 12. The employee, who did not want to be named, said it'd been quite uncomfortable explaining the surcharge to customers.
While rising minimum wage costs are one part of the story, the other is the difficulty many restaurants are having in hiring and keeping experienced staff. Restaurants are trying any and everything, from eliminating tips, to creating a one-house business model, to pay their staff a livable wage. Otherwise, keeping qualified cooks and other personnel in the kitchen can be a nightmare.
It is not clear how, if at all, Restaurants Unlimited alerted its customers to the new surcharge. Whether or not the surcharge is fair to diners is being hotly debated. What do you think? Is it lame to suddenly find a one-percent surcharge on your bill, or is the surcharge understandable because it leads to employees earning a "livable wage?"