In response to last week’s investigative report by the Wall Street Journal into where those three- and four-percent surcharges (often labeled as Healthy S.F. or "healthcare surcharge" on restaurant bills) are really going, Michael Bauer talks to an owner at One Market, Michael Dellar. Dellar says that while yes, they do pocket money not used for healthcare by employees, the money offsets a number of extra costs associated with doing business in San Francisco, including the higher minimum wage, employer tax, and higher rents.
All told he estimates about seven percent of their annual revenue goes toward these extra expenses, as compared to his restaurants in other nearby cities. So, right, like the earlier article said, it’s a matter of language; just don’t tell us the money is going to "Healthy SF" if only a small percentage of it is.
Meanwhile, an anonymous S.F. server commented on our earlier post to say he gets reimbursed for his health insurance premiums out of his restaurant’s Healthy S.F. fund, and as a diner he has no problem paying the surcharges. "I do, however have a problem with the unused money going back to the restaurant," he says. "Especially when it’s not the easiest process to get reimbursed — even for English-speaking employees. I’d guess that very few back-of-the-house employees ever apply for reimbursement." And clearly the restaurants aren’t doing outreach to those employees to help them apply for the funds.
Update: Another anonymous employee, this one at Wayfare Tavern, writes in to Eater on the subject. [Eater]
Are San Francisco restaurants really pocketing the 3-4 percent surcharges as the Wall Street Journal claims? [Between Meals/Scoop]
Earlier: Restaurants Adding Health-Care Surcharges to Checks Aren’t Using Funds for Health Care [Grub Street]