Earlier this month, the Seattle-based restaurant group, Restaurants Unlimited, Inc., began charging customers a one percent "living wage" surcharge, with the goal of supplying its employees with a living wage. Customers, would-be customers, and pundits had a field day on social media in response to the news, with many speaking out against the surprise surcharge. In response, Restaurants Unlimited has now eliminated the charge from all its Oregon restaurants, according to a press release received by Eater today.
In the release, CEO of Restaurants Unlimited Jim Eschweiler says, "We truly appreciate all of the feedback from our loyal guests regarding the one percent living wage surcharge policy. After further consideration we have decided to discontinue this policy."
The press release confirms the "living wage" surcharge was added in response to Portland's July 1, 2016 minimum wage increased, which saw hourly rates go up by 50 cents to $9.75. Restaurants Unlimited says the surcharge was meant to address "rising labor costs in a transparent manner" and support its employees.
It turns out the company did consider other options. "The alternative of scheduling less staff was deemed unacceptable due to the negative impact on employees' livelihood," the press release says, "effectively rolling back the progress of the living wage decision."
Restaurants Unlimited did not respond to Eater's initial request for comment, and the company is not immediately available for comment. The good news is that $8 IPA at Henry's Tavern will no longer cost $8.08. Here were some thoughts voiced on social media in response to the surcharge:
restaurant surcharges are illegal in new york which is a good thing because otherwise we'd have this https://t.co/Zfnn0XPnBl— ryan sutton (@qualityrye) August 16, 2016
Why not just raise the prices and pay your servers well? Why hide the true cost?https://t.co/qUZ5iARAa4— Buzzard Software (@buzzardsoft) August 16, 2016