April 14, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Users on Reddit Are Crowdsourcing a List of Restaurants That Add Service Charge To Customer’s Bills

Restaurant Patrons Are Upset About Service Charges and Want To “Name and Shame”

By Dolores Quintana

Reddit, a popular social news aggregation, content rating, and discussion website, has a discussion thread and Google spreadsheet that tracks the service charges that restaurants are charging as a usually non-negotiable part of patrons’ bills that do not include tips to staff members and servers. On the R/Los Angeles subreddit, the list, named the Restaurant Surcharge Offenders List, has 205 entries as of today. 

Restaurants all over the city are represented on the list, from Downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, West Hollywood, Brentwood, Venice, and Santa Monica. The charges range anywhere from two percent of the check to 20%. The fees are explained as “Wellness fee,” “kitchen love,” and “A 5% surcharge will be added to all guest checks to help cover increasing costs & in support of the recent minimum wage & benefits for our dedicated team members.”

Some restaurants charge fees and discourage tipping,” As a non-tipping restaurant, we add a 20% fee to all checks. This is not a tip or gratuity, and tips are discouraged.” The document also has a column for comments from employees of the restaurants, where they can tell the users what their experience is and if they get what the fees promise. 

The City of Los Angeles launched an investigation into restaurant service fees charged by Ten Five Hospitality in May after reports that the money was not distributed to servers or staff as reported by The Los Angeles Times. 

As we reported in June, servers who worked for restaurants that are part of the Joint Venture Restaurant Group that operate restaurants like Jon & Vinny’s, Son of a Gun, Petit Trois, Helen’s, and Cookbook. The lawsuit alleges “that the restaurant group failed to remit gratuities under Labor Code Section 351, which prohibits employers and their agents from sharing in or keeping any portion of a gratuity left for or given to one or more employees by a patron.”

A note at the top of the Reddit thread states, “Due to vandalism to the Google Doc, possibly thanks to increased visibility from KTLA’s story, I’ve restricted editing access. If you’d like to add something to the list, please leave a comment either here or via this form.”

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