Washington, DC, recently has seen a surge in restaurants charging a junk fee.
These Washington, DC, junk fees are similar to a resort fee on their menus. Sometimes, the fee is not even on the menu. Like hotels, once one restaurant starts to add these fees and seems to get away with it, all the restaurants in the area start to copy the practice.
Travelers United has led the way in suing to protect travelers from resort fees. Plus it has taken legal action against influencers who do not report as required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). See our section above in the navigation bar noting Active Legal Issues.
The DC District Attorney General has released guidance about restaurant fees.
The situation with deceptive pricing at Washington, DC, restaurants is so bad that the District’s Attorney General’s office released guidance on August 9, 2023, about how restaurants must display these fees. “Diners are frequently confused by vaguely labeled fees on their restaurant bills. These fees should assist customers in making fully informed decisions about how to spend their hard-earned money before placing their orders,” said DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb.
Yet despite this notification, restaurants continue to flout the law. The Old Ebbitt Grill, perhaps the most popular restaurant for tourists in all of Washington, DC, currently has a 3.75 percent fee on its menu. They do not state where the money for this fee goes. This violates the Attorney General’s guidelines. Old Ebbitt is one of many restaurants in the Clyde’s Restaurant Group.
Old Ebbitt Grill claims extraordinary costs.
At the bottom of Old Ebbitt’s menu it states, “Our restaurants have been operating with an extraordinary increase in business costs. High inflation, rising wages, and supply chain challenges have continued beyond the pandemic, creating a difficult operating environment. We have reluctantly implemented a separate 3.75% fee for 2023, hoping it can be eliminated as conditions improve.”
Despite this statement, their website states, “Clyde’s Restaurant Group (CRG) is one of the nation’s most successful and enduring restaurant companies. In 1963, the original Clyde’s opened in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC.” Indeed, Eater reported that “Old Ebbitt Grill, a DC classic founded in 1856, reported nearly $34 million in 2017 according to Restaurant Business Online, landing it the No. 5 spot on the outlet’s 2018 list of 100 highest-grossing independent restaurants.”
Why does a top-rated national restaurant need to deceive its customers?
Old Ebbitt Grill brings in $33,749,638 a year in sales and serves 1,462,781 meals annually. Do you need to lie about prices on the menu with a deceptive junk fee surcharge? One of the top five grossing restaurants in the country and a staple for DC tourists should follow the law in displaying its menu prices honestly. Old Ebbitt Grill brings in thousands of tourists every year, These diners deserve honest, truthful prices to make an informed decision based on the listed price of an item on the menu.
Tourist scams in restaurants are common worldwide. Travelers United refuses to tolerate this type of behavior in our backyard. Restaurant junk fee pricing is of growing concern to Travelers United, and we look forward to taking this unfortunate new consumer protection issue on as it continues. Hopefully, one day soon, we can get back to the listed price on a menu being the item’s actual price.
Lauren joined Travelers United in 2015. Founded Kill Resort Fees, the only site devoted to ending hidden hotel resort fees. Armed with an arsenal of frequent flyer miles and some extreme budgeting skills, Lauren traveled around the world through 37 countries. Accomplishments include eating at the world’s largest restaurant in Syria, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border, running into Anthony Bourdain at a Mexican restaurant in Cambodia and cage diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa.