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No more hidden fees. Junk fee law bans restaurant surcharges

If you’ve ever wondered how eating out got to be so expensive, just know that help is on the way.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta has ruled that the ban on hidden fees for hotels and concerts and sports tickets approved by lawmakers last October also applies to restaurants.

“The price on the menu that’s the way it is. We don’t add anything,” Santo Esposito, the owner of Il Cilentano restaurant in San Francisco, said. 

He said he has never charged a hidden or junk fee, such as a percentage for employees’ health care or higher wages. It’s always been right there in the price on his menu.

“I work myself more and cut off some employee if I have to,” Esposito said. “So I work more so I don’t need to charge people any extra fee.”

But many restaurants are concerned that adding these surcharges to the price on the menu could cause sticker shock, said Golden Gate Restaurant Association Executive Director Laurie Thomas.

“Will that being upfront and center cause people to dine out less?” she said. “And if people continue to dine out less, we do have a struggling restaurant industry.” 

Many restaurants, especially larger ones, do charge the so-called hidden fees.  

Owners and managers at restaurants in North Beach said it’s not going to to help.

“Will I lose enough money that I have to either lay people off or I can’t make it work anymore?” Thomas said.

And customers had mixed reactions.

“On the one hand, I like to pay the price that’s advertised, because that feels good. If someone says it’s $9, then it’s $9,” Joseph Chiarucci of San Francisco said.

“For me, I’m definitely OK with it being added to the check. I don’t need to see it upfront. I’m not choosing a restaurant or hotel based exclusively on price. A lot of it is about the experience,” Katie Brown-Davis of Walnut Creek said.

Restaurants don’t have long to prepare for the menu changes. 

The new state law goes into effect July 1.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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