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'Our Recovery Is Going Backwards': Some Restaurants Adding 'COVID Surcharge' To Make Up For 'Long-Lasting Hardships'

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - At Cotton Patch Cafés last week, a new policy took effect.

Signs at each table warn a 5% surcharge will be added to each bill "due to the long-lasting hardships faced by the restaurant industry."

Customers upset by the discovery have posted receipts to social media.

Listed as a "COVID surcharge," the amount generally comes out to an extra 1 to 3 dollars.

"No more Cotton Patch for me," responded one woman.

A company with nearly 50 locations in Texas, Cotton Patch says its surcharge is a temporary solution to ongoing issues.

"Our recovery is going backwards," said Texas Restaurant Association Vice President Kelsey Erickson Streufert.

Streufert says the industry is facing a critical labor shortage, after losing an estimated 60% of its workforce early in the pandemic.

"Many of these folks weren't just sitting on the sidelines. They got jobs in new industries," she said.

Restaurants, she says, are also contending with a steep increase in the price of food that has to be passed on to customers.

"When you see meat, corn, plastic prices rising 100, 150, 200 percent, you really have no other choice," said Streufert.

Revenue is down, as well, in response to the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.

In a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, 20% of people said they'd stopped going to restaurants because of the delta variant.

But, Streufert says, there's also evidence of pent up demand that could have business bouncing back once conditions improve.

"We're all tired of cooking and doing our own dishes, I can speak from personal experience. And so that is a real source of hope and light in all of this," she said.

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