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A $2.19 coronavirus "surcharge" spotted in a receipt at a restaurant in Missouri started a backlash earlier this month, but the restaurateur who operates the establishment says he's only trying to make ends meet.
Billy Yuzar previously told Fox News that he decided to add the surcharge to offset the rising costs of food from his suppliers, instead of raising menu across the board, with no explanation as to why. He also said that his was just one of many restaurants in his West Plains town — all of whom use the same suppliers — to institute the charge.
He hasn't heard any complaints from his customers, either.
Despite this, Yuzar says he's been bombarded with negative reviews from people who haven't ever visited the restaurant, and it all started with a tweet on social media, from a woman seemingly living in California.
“Scuse me … what? A covid surcharge…?” the Twitter user wrote in a post showing a receipt from the Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge that included a “covid 19 surcharge.”
The tweet quickly went viral with people upset by the extra charge, the New York Post reported.
"If I ever see this on a bill I wld not pay it," one user wrote. "I’m tryin to recoup too. Who am I suppose to bill ??? Is this evn legal ?"
But the West Plains restaurant isn’t the only establishment adding a little to the bill. As restaurants struggle to keep their doors open amid stay-at-home orders, some feel it’s a necessary addition.
In San Diego, a Mexican restaurant announced it was charging $1 extra for carne asada due to a meat shortage and in Michigan, a burger place is adding another dollar to each meal because of foot traffic they've lost, according to FOX 17 in Grand Rapids and KFMB-TV in San Diego.
And it’s not just restaurants. A dentist’s office in Jacksonville, Fla., reportedly started charging a $10 per appointment fee for personal protective equipment, and in Texas some hair salons have started adding a $3 sanitation charge, according to KTRK-TV in Houston.
Kiko’s Steakhouse posted a message on Facebook defending the charge and stressing it would only be temporary.
“We are not trying to hide this surcharge, we choose this option rather than changing our prices on our menu, this way we can adjust the surcharge weekly," the restaurant wrote. "We’ve been putting flyers in front of our restaurant & put the surcharge on your receipt, today we put more signage. Please understand we cant control the rising cost of meat, seafood, poultry & produce prices.”
The restaurant's owner, Billy Yuzar, told Fox News that the surcharge is advertised online, on the restaurant’s front door, and at the register, so customers are well aware of it.
“We have been transparent about it. Right when you walk into our restaurant, it’s there,” he said.
Yuzar told Fox News the Twitter user who posted the photo wasn't the patron given the receipt.
He said he's now worried for his employees — and his restaurant’s reputation, which he believes is being tarnished with negative reviews from people in Canada and Texas, who had never even visited the location, but merely saw the viral photo on Twitter.
“They don’t have the facts, but are responding to this [picture on social media],” he said.
Fox News' Alexandra Deabler contributed to this report.