Councilman Fights to Help Save Local Restaurants Temporarily Backfires

Will an Added Surcharge Help or Hurt Restaurants Recoup from the Economic Disaster Caused by Covid-19?

By: Jennifer Spadafora

This week Republican City Councilman Joseph Borelli revealed his plan to help struggling restaurants stay afloat.  The plan looks to repeal a 45-year-old law that previously banned restaurants from adding a surcharge on the bill.  

Now, to speed up the local economic recovery, restaurants will have the option of adding a much needed COVID 19 surcharges, yet it was met with disdain from local restaurateurs.  

Once the SI Advanced published the news linking Borelli and disgraced Mayor De Blasio, who would need to sign this into law, constituents wanted nothing to do with a surcharge which was immediately received as a new tax.  

In a Facebook live video Borelli was able to sway public opinion with a bit more information.  The surcharge is optional, which is the biggest difference between this and a new tax.  Almost immediately, the comments section proved most Staten Islanders never read past the original headline. 

Restaurants have the ability, once this repeal is signed by the Mayor, to intact it or not.  Not only can they go ahead and add it on if needed, but the owners have a lot of leeway in what they charge, ranging from 0-10%.

Additionally, patrons have the option to dine at locations that use this surcharge or not.  There is now a widespread idea that this repeal was an act of freedom for restaurant owners to charge what they need to recover since they started suffocating under the lock downs.

As explained in his live update, the Lords that have wielded their power of NY businesses are now allowing them to open at only 25% capacity, along with their ongoing outdoor seating.  However, the owners who up until March were seeing a boom in their business still need to pay a kitchen staff, support the front of the house, and maintain payments on food and linen vendors.  Borelli aims to close that financial gap, which in turn will result in saving restaurant jobs.

This surcharge allows you, the customer, to put your money where your mouth is, when it comes to supporting small, local restaurants.  It tells them the quality of service and employment of their staff means something to you.  Would you spend $100 on dinner, but not $110 (at the 10% maximum rate) to ensure that your favorite place could remain open and functional?

Not all restaurant owners changed their tune after all the details emerged.  A link to SI Advance’s own foodie themed Facebook page has a running list of places that will not be opting into the surcharge, if you want to avoid the fee, you can find a surcharge free location here.

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