Food critics, such as Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle, are noticing that more restaurants are tacking on a surcharge to diners' final tabs to cover extra costs imposed by new programs that make all San Francisco businesses pay into a fund for universal healthcare.
People understand what the prices were and instead of raising them, adding a service charge simply points out what's going on. [...] I would think that at some point in the near future, those will go away and the restaurants will simply reflect the increase in the cost of each item on the menu.
[...] However, I understand the restaurants' dilemma. They want to provide benefits for employees, but they also want to remain competitive, and they want customers to know why it's more expensive to eat in San Francisco than it is in other parts of the Bay Area.
It's a delicate position for restaurants to be in. Epic Roasthouse, for example, has come under fire for adding on a 4 percent service charge to cover employees' health benefits. Trattoria Delfina, on the other hand, charges a $1.25 coperto per guest, explaining the reasons in a letter attached to the menu. Would you be willing to pay up willingly—or grudgingly? Or should restaurants just raise the prices of their dishes instead?
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