The times they are a changing and that’s just a fact and at this point. Most people are familiar with the mounting struggles facing Minnesota restaurant owners, but amid rising product prices, increased labor costs, and the ability to find qualified staff, what is an owner to do should they want to do something more by providing health insurance to employees?
This is a question the Kim Bartmann group is currently trying to address as they recently announced that they’ll be adding a three percent line item service charge on each ticket in order to continue to provide health insurance to employees. Starting tomorrow, July 28th, 2017, customers of Barbette, Bryant Lake Bowl, Pat’s Tap, Red Stag Supperclub, Tiny Diner and The Bird should expect to see the three percent service charge added to their bills.
Bartmann’s restaurants have long been at the forefront of hospitality health coverage in the Twin Cities as they instituted their policy of providing accessible health insurance to employees back in 1993. At Bartmann’s restaurants, all employees who work 25 hours a week can choose from four different tiers of health plans and dental coverage and staff pay 50% of the premium with the remainder covered by the restaurant.
“We’ve all seen the articles about how tough it is to work in restaurants. Having health insurance is critical, even for young people who think that they’re invincible,” says Bartmann, “Health insurance has been going up 20% to 30% a year for the last few years, and we can’t continue to sustain those increases. Rather than just raising prices, we want to be transparent about our costs. We think our customers will appreciate knowing that our workers have good quality, affordable health insurance.”
Bartmann also notes that, “All of our sustainability efforts — solar panels, LEED certifications, composting, supporting local organic farms and permaculture, low-waste events — are ultimately about human health, just like health coverage. I’m committed to offering quality health insurance to our employees, whatever it takes.”
While many have applauded Bartmann for taking a stance and adding the three percent charge as a way of maintaining health care for employees without having to cut it, a cursory glance at the comments sections on a variety of articles from Twin Cities on the subject, show a range of reactions from people. Everything from congratulatory messaging to aggressive language in regard to passing on added fees to consumers as a statement of protest, but how should a restaurant respond to rising costs?
The industry has long maintained razor thin margins that equate to any small price increase as a competitive disadvantage, but how do you, the consumer, feel about that? Are you okay with a three percent line item increase on your bill or would you rather the three percent just get added into the food costs? Is any increase in price enough to keep you from going back to a restaurant?
The Twin Cities has seen this same kind of debate over service fees where restaurants who had chosen to do away with tipping in lieu of a standardized service fee have quickly reversed course, proving to some that prices are so static they’re forced into these operating conundrums.
But again, what do you, the end consumer really think. What are you willing to tolerate and what are you not? How exactly should restaurants go about raising prices in the face of rising costs? Please feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, but please, just remember, always be respectful.