FREMONT— Along with their ribs and fries, diners at three Original Hickory Pit restaurants are chewing on a 75-cent surcharge to cover higher energy costs.
As they take their seats at the restaurants in Fremont, Walnut Creek and Campbell, patrons find fluorescent orange fliers announcing the surcharge right next to their menus.
“We had to do this to stay in business,” explained owner Tom Kavishi, who started the practice last weekend.
Energy bills for December and January at the three restaurants increased to $75,000, three times higher than normal.
Kavishi couldn’t raise menu prices because the restaurants just had spent $5,000 changing menus.
Kavishi said Wednesday he had qualms about adding the surcharge to bills, but felt he could count on the loyalty of customers who have enjoyed ribs and fresh-baked pies at the restaurants for more than 50 years.
Kavishi said he will impose the surcharge “as long as the energy crisis is not resolved,” and that it applies only to customers who order full meals – not those who only stop by for a side order of beans.
One diner told The Oakland Tribune the surcharge was a bad sign of the times.
“My wife is concerned that other retail establishments will see this and soon everybody will start raising prices,” said Marcus Bruno of Fremont.