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Denver Area Restaurants Charging Surcharge to Make Up for Minimum Wage Hike

After Amendment 70 forced Colorado businesses to pay a higher minimum wage, many Denver-area restaurants are struggling to survive. In a bid to stay in business, some restaurants are now adding a ten percent surcharge to make up for the recent hike.

Corona’s Mexican Grill in the Denver suburb of Broomfield, for instance, recently posted a notice to customers that a surcharge has been added to all bills to try and offset the wage hike. The charge is meant to make sure no employees are laid off because of the expense, Denver’s Fox 31 reported.

The notice at Corona’s reads, “The restaurant will now add a 10% service fee on all checks to help offset the increased labor cost that Amendment 70 has brought us.”

Lilith Marquez, Corona’s general manager, said that they did not want to hide anything from customers.

We’re not a franchise,” Lilith Marquez said. “Family owned. We make all of our food from scratch.”

“We want to let you know you’re going to be charged this fee. There’s nothing we want to hide,” Marquez added.

One customer thought the fee was “excessive,” while others said they were happy to pay the additional cost.

Amendment 70, which passed last November with 55 percent support, will gradually increase the minimum wage in 90-cent increments until it reaches $12 per hour by the year 2020. The first increase occurred in January, and another 90 cents will be added to the wage each January until the target year. The current minimum wage in Colorado is $9.30 per hour; the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Now that the first wage hike has taken effect, many restaurants are adding the surcharge to try and recoup the losses. These increased fees will likely continue as the hourly wage climbs.

Managers at Corona’s said Amendment 70 will cost $185,000 this year alone across their three locations. The surcharge, they said, will only recover part of that cost.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.

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