Trendy and expensive, Republique restaurant on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles is now charging an extra 3% Obamacare surcharge on every bill.
Co-owner Bill Chait maintains that most of his customers will be fine with the new tax. Chait and his partner, chef Walter Manzke, claim the new tax will help them keep all of their 80 employees on a full-time basis and provide healthcare coverage.
One patron, Gabriele, an oboist in the L.A. Philharmonic, likes the idea of the added tax because, “if this allows people to have healthcare who couldn’t have it before, it’s a good thing.” Apparently, increased premiums for the millions of Obamacare customers is not enough of a burden, according to supporters of the new tax. “We all have to share a burden. If you’re at a restaurant where you’re spending $5 on a cup of coffee, you can spare 3%,” Gabriele submitted.
But not everyone has the same sentiment as the owners and the oboist. “I don’t like it, and there are several reasons,” said Cari, a writer. Cari complained that there is no way of knowing for sure just how the owners will spend the extra tax revenue. “This is a very expensive restaurant. It’s $4 for a cup of tea. A glass of wine is in the $20 range,” she opined. When Cari got her bill she requested that the surcharge be removed.
One of Republique’s reviewers contributed to Yelp, the online business review site, objecting that, “This is offensive, a 3% surcharge for Obamacare.” Another claimed that the food was “pretty damned good” but manged to rate the restaurant only one star out of a possible five-star rating system.
“So why only one star?! When I was looking at the dessert section I noticed the 3% health charge. I am a believer in providing health care for your employees but it is the employer’s responsibility. 3% is not much, however even if it was .0000001% I would still have a problem.” The reviewer added, “if my company on every invoice put an additional 3% health care fee, our customers would throw a fit. It is a business’s responsibility to take care of this, and the customer should not have to participate in this un-American socialist BS.”
The owners contend that their biggest motivation for adding the Obamacare tax was to level the income inequality that exists in restaurants. Chait and Manzke want to make sure that all their employees, from hostesses and bartenders to dishwashers and potato peelers, have healthcare coverage. Chait says that half of the employees in a restaurant are “invisible” and by state law can’t share in the tip pool.
It is unclear whether the tip pool will be depleted as a result of customers adjusting their service gratuity to compensate for the additional healthcare surcharge tax.