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Restaurants may add COVID-19 surcharge

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Posted at 8:57 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-28 01:17:14-04

TUCSON, Ariz. -- You might want to double check your bill the next time you eat out.

Restaurants could start adding a COVID-19 surcharge.

Kenneth Foy, the owner of Dante’s Fire at 2526 E Grant Road says restaurants have taken a huge financial hit and hard decisions have had to be made to keep his business afloat.

“Everybody’s taken a hit,” said Foy.

Foy is a part of Tucson Originals, a professional organization for locally owned restaurants in Tucson.

He and his colleagues said the next couple of months will bring lots of changes to the Tucson food scene.

“There will be some great ones that survive. There will be some great ones that don’t survive, and there will be some people that completely change focus,” Foy told KGUN9.

A change that could include a COVID-19 surcharge on your tab.

“I’ve heard of anything from 1.5% to 5%. The surcharge covers the increased costs of labor material, chemicals, different operating procedures,” he added.

Foy said it also helps with the rising cost of food.

“The ground beef went from $2.00 a pound to $6.00 and $7.00 a pound."

While he said these additional expenses could eventually drive him out of business, he’d rather raise prices on the menu than add the surcharge.

“The half pound burger went up a dollar, so we absorbed most of that cost. We understand that they’re hurting just like we are,” he said.

Foy said the federal Payment Protection Program loan is also helping keep his business afloat, but he’s the first to admit that will only go so far.

“There’s plenty in the bank, but there’s only so much that you can spend it on. We can’t spend it on groceries. That goes to staff, and utilities, and rent. So when that expires that’s when it gets really scary for a lot of people."

Which is why he’s trying to develop an app-based menu -- helping absorb the cost of disposable menus.

“We got 50 beverage menus and 50 food menus and its cost is $300.00,” he added.

And while money may be tight now, he’s hopeful these changes will be enough to carry his business through the pandemic.

“Tomorrow will always be brighter than today. We’re hoping things continue to get better. We know our business model is strong. We know we have the community’s support. We just have to capture and keep our clientele interested, engaged, happy, and getting the value."