Billionaire restaurateur tries to charge extra tax to make up for raised minimum wage

Tilman Fertitta and the note (credit: Diego Pimentel)

Tilman Fertitta, the owner, chairman and CEO of Landry’s Incorporated, is one of the richest restaurateurs in the country, with a net worth of over $3 billion, according to Forbes. He even stars on a CNBC show called “Billion Dollar Buyer.”

Nevertheless, when the minimum wage went up in Washington D.C., Fertitta did not just hunker down and pay his employees a fair salary at his restaurant there, Oceanaire. Nor did he raise menu prices to help offset the cost. Instead, he is being accused of adding a special, three percent surcharge on to bills with a note explaining the change buried at the bottom.

“Due to the rising cost of doing business in this location, including the costs associated with higher minimum wage rates, a 3% surcharge has been added to your total bill.”

Obviously, this is a pretty sneaky thing to do, and after enraged customers reported it to local media outlets, the restaurant removed the charge, and claimed it was only temporary.

“We have chosen to remove this surcharge effective immediately,” a rep told the Washington Post, “and will explore more traditional means to address the industry’s rising costs, such as raising menu prices.” [WP]