Minneapolis man sues restaurant group over 3% “wellness surcharge”

Illustration for article titled Minneapolis man sues restaurant group over 3% “wellness surcharge”
Photo: takasuu (iStock)

Last month Christopher Ashbach, a 40-year-old commercial airline pilot and self-described foodie, grabbed a half a dozen oysters for lunch at the Minneapolis brewpub The Freehouse. When his bill arrived, he was surprised to see an additional 3% surcharge added to his $14 check to cover employee health insurance. That amounts to 42 cents.

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Now Ashbach is suing the Blue Plate Restaurant Group, which owns the Freehouse, for springing this on him. His lawsuit, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, alleges that the restaurant deliberately concealed the surcharge to avoid scaring off potential customers. Because paying for health insurance for workers who would otherwise be uninsured is scary.

A Blue Plate spokesman maintains that the surcharge is, in fact, noted on all its menus and has been since June when it went into effect.

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“In his lawsuit,” the Star-Tribune story continues, “Ashbach went on to point out that the surcharge noted on the bill is at the bottom near the tax and the grand total. He contends the location implies that it’s collected on behalf of government.”

Ashbach has filed his lawsuit as a class-action on behalf of other customers who may have been similarly deceived. He’s asking for $50,000 in damages. What a guy!

Blue Plate has until January 15 to respond.

Aimee Levitt is associate editor of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

Just roll it into the price. Why does it have to be a surprise fee?