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By Josephine Fuller,
RESTAURANT owners are regularly charging customers an added fee rather than relying on tipping.
Near Buffalo, New York, restaurant owners are helping back-of-house employees make more money.
State laws prevent using server tips to pay those employees who don't touch tables.
To make up for the pay gap, some restaurant owners have started charging a fee for customers which goes directly to the rest of the staff.
Joe Jerge, owner of Mulberry Italian Ristorante in Lackawanna, added a 50-cents-per-customer charge to his menu, he told Buffalo News.
The amount earned from the fee is split among cooks, dishwashers, and other back-of-house staff members.
"You give a part-time dishwasher making $240 a week another $100 monthly share, the look on their face. It makes a big difference," he told the news outlet.
A similar fee was applied to bills at DiTondo, another restaurant in the area.
Diners pay a 20 percent service fee on food and drink rather than be expected to tip.
At DiTondo, the cash from the fee is split among all hourly workers based on the number of hours worked.
And at Ilio DiPaolo's in Blasdell, tables are charged $1 per customer - which goes right to the back-of-house staff.
Owner Dennis DiPaolo said he chose to add this fee rather than "charging $30 for a chicken parm."
"I've had maybe a couple people complain about it," DiPaolo said.
"But when you explain it to them, they get it."
At Mulberry Italian Ristorante, Jerge understands that the fee can be a turnoff to some customers.
The menu alerts people of the charge and says it can be removed upon request.
“Some people save up for a night out and every dollar counts, and we appreciate them coming,” he said.
However, only two people have ever objected to the fee.
Eating at home is also becoming an expensive option as more grocery stores add fees to shop, including ShopRite.
Plus, make sure you know about the automatic surcharge at Costco and how to avoid it.