San Diegans Fed Up With Restaurant Surcharges Speak Out

August 8, 2023

A Reddit thread is circulating around the web with many San Diegans speaking out over the addition of increasing surcharges at dozens of area restaurants. 

A reddit thread on a San Diego subreddit has amassed over 500 comments with many people complaining about the addition of surcharges at many area restaurants. The original poster even compiled a spreadsheet listing the San Diego establishments known to charge an addition surcharge. 

"I love some of these restaurants, but enough is enough," reads the post by reddit user rentogen007. "I feel that as customers, we gotta let our displeasure be heard loud and clear. I’ll be taking a pause on frequenting these joints, in light of inflation, higher rents, gas prices and everything else. Greedflation, I tells you!"

Some of the businesses mentioned on the thread include Brian Malarkey's Animae in downtown San Diego, Barleymash in the Gaslamp, Coco Maya in Little Italy, Cesarina in Point Loma, Campfire in Carlsbad, Herb & Sea in Encinitas, all Cohn Restaurant Group establishments, and most Consortium Holdings restaurants. Surcharges mentioned range from 3-15%, with the average around 5%. The reddit thread also includes many complaints about increased suggested percentages on tip lines. 

In 2017, multiple lawsuits were filed against more than a dozen San Diego restaurants claiming the companies were defrauding patrons by illegally tacking on additional charges to customers' bills. But in a ruling in November 2018, Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor concluded that "undisputed evidence establishes that the surcharge is not unlawful as matter of law," and that the restaurant "made adequate and non-misleading disclosures about the surcharge and that plaintiff did not rely on a misleading statement in the surcharge disclosure." Since the ruling, many more area restaurants have added a surcharge to bills. 

In an article by San Diego MAGAzine food writer Troy Johnson, entitled "Why Restaurants Are Adding a Surcharge, and Why Diners Should Gladly Pay It", the writer urges diners to "please just politely pay the surcharge," or in the alternative, he says to "stay home and cook." Restaurant surcharges have been linked to rising costs, specifically increased California minimum wage wage without any tip credit for tipped employees. Most other states allow employers to factor in gratuity payments for employees but California requires all employers to pay employees the state minimum wage (soon to be $16 per hour) without any credit for additional tips. 

So what do you think of San Diego restaurants tacking on a surcharge to help cover rising costs? Please chime in my emailing [email protected]