(619) 505-7777

Diners get surcharge added to bill due to minimum wage hike in San Diego

Some San Diego restaurants are adding a little more to your bill to help offset new minimum wage requirements.
Photo credit:

The minimum wage for San Diego employees was officially raised to $11.50 on Sunday, January 1, and some local restaurants are adding a surcharge to your bill to help offset the cost.

This is the second wage hike in six months and restaurateurs are a little concerned about how to accommodate the extra dollar per hour to employees when they claim to already have thin profit margins.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, some restaurants have tried everything from trimming hours, to raising prices, but they feel the consumer would rather see a charge on their check rather than on the menu.

Rick DiRienzo, owner of Rockin’ Baja says he his anxious about the pay hike, and isn’t sure how he will meet the new wage requirements.

“My servers are making incredible tips — between $20 and $30 an hour -- and with this increase, I can’t continue on and expect to make a living,” DiRienzo said. “Of course, I’m worried about a backlash (from diners), but I can’t think of anything else to do other than raise prices and I’ve already done that for the last two years.”

 Stephen Zolezzi, president of the Food & Beverage Association of San Diego County says he has consulted with 30 owners who plan on using the surcharge.

“These are mandated increases to the cost of doing business that we have absolutely no control over,” he said. “I’m getting calls like I never have before, they’re saying, I need a broker because I am through, I need to sell my business. Some are feeling like their back is up against the wall and feel this is all they can do.”

Fast food chains such as McDonalds and Jack in the Box will continue to serve customers without a surcharge. 

Restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles have been adding the extra fee for some time to help with healthcare costs.

Still some San Diego restaurant owners are willing to ride it out until they absolutely have to do something after seeing the long-term bottom line.

“We have a lot of anxiety about it and we’re procrastinating about it,” admitted Arsalun Tafazoli, whose company owns several restaurants and bars in San Diego. “It’s going to cost us an additional $460,000 a year. We’ll put ourselves in a corner until we have to do something. It’s not the most sophisticated approach.”