Restaurateurs and franchise owners across America are protesting the nationwide minimum wage surges. In Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, a $15 minimum wage is being implemented, and in New York as of January 1, restaurant servers’ hourly wages have been bumped up to $9. To protest new increased costs of operation, multiple restaurants have begun to implement two percent minimum wage surcharge mandates.
Customers at Hillstone, which has two locations in New York City, reported a two percent surcharge added to the bottom of their checks. Even though restaurants like Tom Douglas in Seattle have implemented similar surcharges legally, the practice is illegal in New York City, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs.
“You're at risk of a $500 per plate fine,” restaurant labor expert and attorney Carolyn Richmond told NBC News. “But the problem is the Department of Consumer Affairs hasn't really been enforcing the rule, absent a direct consumer complaint."
As a result of customer complaints, Hillstone has finally dropped the charge. But initially, instead of just raising prices, they wanted to be transparent with customers about the financial burden of the minimum wage hike.
"We didn’t want to hide these increased operational costs in our menu prices such that our guests might then question the value of what we offer,” W. Glenn Viers, vice president at Hillstone told NBC News.