Restaurants Are Adding ‘Cuomo Taxes’ to Protest New York’s Wage Increase

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Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York's restaurateurs have made no secret of their animus for the state's new $7.50 tipped wage that went into effect on January 1, but several of the state's more enterprising eateries have found a new way to protest it — by adding variations of a "Cuomo tax" to the bill, à la all those Obamacare surcharges that were a thing for a while. The Back Nine Grill in Rochester is tacking a 3 percent tax onto all meals as a way of showing customers how the extra $2.50-an-hour increase is affecting the business:


A different place upstate, the American Diner near Syracuse, has the "Dictator Obama/NYS Special (King Cuomo)" breakfast special — two eggs and some toast for $3.59 plus $27.99 in taxes. A third spot upstate, the restaurant at Belhurst Castle, has also added a surcharge that's 4.75 percent, but it looks considerably more official — right below the real tax, the receipt claims a "NYS Labor Surcharge" is occurring. It also helps that Belhurst Castle's fee spells all of the words correctly, unlike Back Nine's "Coumo tax."

Back Nine's owner says the reason for calling the governor out by name is pretty obvious. "I guess what I do is blame Cuomo for signing the bill, so that is why I used his name," he told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, before adding: "We spelled his name wrong purposefully. We know that." He says the surcharge brings in $300 to $400 a month, enough to offset a week's wages. The tax's days might be numbered, though, because Aquilina appears to live by the mantra that the customer is always right: "I do know firsthand that three [customers] refused to pay it, and I said, 'Fine. That's no problem. I'll take it off your bill.'"

[Democrat & Chronicle]