Patron Didn't Appreciate Eatery's 4% Surcharge

Fee added by Atlanta restaurant is to help cover costs for employee health insurance
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2024 10:00 AM CST
Updated Jan 20, 2024 4:30 PM CST
Restaurant Put on Blast for Health Insurance Fee on Bill
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Photobuff)

An Atlanta restaurant is taking heat over what its owners say is an optional fee on customers' tabs to help cover employees' health insurance costs. Fox Business reports on the blowback that JenChan's Pizza and Chinese, an eatery located in the Cabbagetown section of the city, has received since a patron posted their receipt on Reddit in December, showing this 4% surcharge. On the bill and on JenChan's menu, a notice explains: "On your receipt you will notice 4% health insurance we implemented after our premiums more than tripled last year. Thank you for being a part of our effort to ensure our staff can seek care for whatever mental or physical ailments they may face."

For those who don't feel like subsidizing the workers' health insurance premiums, the message does add, "Please know that we will be more than happy to remove this for you without hesitation." The Reddit post has since been nixed, but not before drawing thousands of reactions and comments, and the restaurant's management soon responded. The fee "has been on the menu for about a year now," a Dec. 29 Facebook post explains. "We were inspired by another couple of restaurants here that do the same." Although it's true the restaurant could've simply raised its prices without causing much commotion, co-owner Emily Chan says they wanted to raise awareness about what they're up against regarding their health insurance costs. Chan adds that they've been receiving threats on social media since the post about the fee went viral.

"Of course, people are going to disagree with it, and I think that is what is beautiful about where we live," she tells WSB. "I want people to disagree, because that means we can have a conversation about it. That is fantastic, but let us leave the physical violent threats out of the picture." The restaurant is also pushing back at people leaving negative reviews online. "Please stop going to Yelp or Google and making random things up like you stopped by and walked out because of the health insurance fee," a Friday Facebook post reads. "Support the small businesses that unite this country. And if you're mad about what we are doing, tell [C]ongress to fix it." Meanwhile, the restaurant, which opened just a few months before the COVID pandemic hit, has refunded the $2.02 charge on the original complainant's bill. (More health insurance stories.)

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