San Francisco

Some SF Restaurants Adding Dining Surcharge With COVID-19 Restrictions Ending Soon

Newsom announces an extension to the emergency order allowing restaurant parklets for outdoor service

NBC Universal, Inc.

It may cost you more money next time you dine out in San Francisco.

With California restaurants just 12 days away from no more COVID-19 restrictions and full indoor dining, restaurants such as Che Fico on Divisadero are implementing a "dining in charge."

“We feel a dining-in charge is much more clear as to what it cost you to dine inside,” said David Nayfield, co-owner of Che Fico, which is applying a 10% surcharge. “You were taking up a table, you were taking up real estate, you are taking up a server."

It replaces the San Francisco mandate fees, and if you get food to go, there is no extra charge.

Nayfeld said the extra money allows him to provide raises to his entire staff and still stay in the black.

“Some of it is going to paying the higher cost of the supply chain, which has just skyrocketed and some of it is going to profitability of the business,” he said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom was in San Francisco on Thursday to announce an extension to the emergency order allowing restaurant parklets to continue for outdoor service to help businesses struggling during the pandemic recovery. The extension also allows takeout customers to get alcoholic beverages to go.

Mayor London Breed said she would like to see the parklets become permanent fixtures in the city.

In terms of the surcharge, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association understands. It released the following statement:

“If San Francisco restaurants are going to be able to pay higher wages, provide 9 days of sick pay per year (not counting COVID related sick pay), and continue to have a set health care spend (between $2 and $3 per hour) as well as deal with massively increasing food costs (beef for instance), then restaurants will have to charge more and customers will have to decide if they can afford those increases. It will have to sort itself out," said Laurie Thomas with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

The dining-in charge is not universally popular. In North Beach on Wednesday, several restaurant owners spoke with NBC Bay Area off-camera and said they haven’t heard a word about it.

Santo Esposito, chef and owner of Il Celentano restaurant spoke publicly and said he wouldn’t do it.

“I’m able to pay everybody here because I put in a lot of hours myself, So, I do a lot of work. So, I don’t have to pay extra people and that’s the way to do it. But I guess lot of people don’t want to do that,” he said.

Some customers also had different thoughts on the new, more transparent dining in charge.

“I think restaurants really suffered during the pandemic, so I think it’s really needed for the recovery. And I’d be willing to pay more to do my part,” said San Francisco resident Choua Vue.

San Francisco resident Mike Rogers also shared his thoughts on this surcharge. “If it’s not being spent in an impactful way and it doesn’t really matter how much money we collect it was not being spent properly right?” he said.

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