A Waffle House in Atlanta is adding a 20% surcharge to diners’ bills to pay for private security at its Underground Atlanta location. The restaurant says it’s adding the fee, reports WIS-TV in Columbia, because it uses off-duty Atlanta police  officers and that “the extra security costs them $160,000 a year.”
The restaurant, it should come as no surprise, is in a “high-crime area.”
Is it fair to have your customers pay for extra security if you choose to locate your business in an unsafe area? That’s an interesting question.
On the one hand, every neighborhood, no matter how much crime is or isn’t present, needs businesses that provide jobs. Every neighborhood has people living there who are honest, want to work and need food.
On the other hand, there’s something sketchy to me about tacking on a surcharge for security. Especially when you base how much I pay for security on how big my bill is.
If I eat more than the average customer, thus racking up a higher bill and a higher security fee, shall I reasonably assume that the security guard will situate himself near my table, so that I’m more protected than someone who just comes in for a cup of coffee?
If you’re basing my security fee on how much business I do, I don’t consider that an unreasonable question.
I’d have a problem with the restaurant charging a flat fee — say, $3 per person, regardless of what they eat, but I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with it as a percentage based on my final bill. And when you charge me for security more than what you expect me to pay your underpaid wait staff, guess what might suffer if I’m already tight on funds and didn’t realize going in that you were going to add to my bill!
Thanks, but I think I’d just eat in a “safer” neighborhood. How about you?
Would you agree to pay a “security fee” to eat in a restaurant in a seemingly unsafe part of town? Do you think it’s fair to expect customers to foot that bill, or should it be just another “cost of doing business” that should be incorporated into menu prices without regard to how much a customer buys?