To cope with energy costs, some restaurateurs have decided to pass this increase on to their customers. Witnesses notified us via the orange Alert us button. The practice is legal, but this must be clearly stipulated upon entry, as is the case in Michel’s establishments in Brussels.
For the past few days in a chain of restaurants in Brussels, a small notice has appeared on the tables. Customers are warned: they will have to pay an additional 1 euro per person. 1 euro of “energy contribution”. This sum represents the increase in the energy cost necessary to make a dish.
In his 14 restaurants, the entrepreneur we met said he had already made all the savings possible: low consumption lamps, solar panels… but certain expenses remain incompressible. “Induction hobs are around 3,500 watts. Then there are fridges, a cold room, you need hot water… all that stuff is energy“, explains Michel De Bloos, managing director of a chain of restaurants.
It was simple: I told myself just 1 euro per customer
Rather than pass the costs on to his meals, the restaurateur opted for transparency. “I realized that overall, we had about 100,000 euros in increased bills for all of our restaurants. And we have about 100,000 customers a month across all the restaurants. It was simple: I told myself just 1 euro per customer“, confides Michel De Bloos.
Rules to respect
The surcharge keeps the restaurant afloat and remains legal, as long as it is clearly announced to the consumer before the meal begins. “The determination of the price is completely free between the customer and the restaurant. You can make your steak for 20 euros a day and 21 euros because the electricity goes up or because you suffered from covid. If the consumer agrees and it is displayed in writing in a completely clear way, it is perfect, there is nothing to complain about“, indicates Laurent Mosselmans, lawyer. For him, it is also a commercial asset. “If ever the electricity goes down again or if the covid is far from us, and the restaurant puts its steak back at 20 euros, we might say to ourselves ‘This restaurant owner is honest and friendly, I’m going to eat my steak at his house’“.
Rather well received
In Michel’s restaurant, the approach is also rather well received by customers. “Pay 1 euro, yes why not, if it can allow you to continue“, confides a lady. “We are run by fools so we still have to put something on our side to keep the house going“, reacts a man.
Here, the measure is intended to be temporary. If the energy situation improves, the restaurant will reduce its supplement until, it hopes, eliminate it completely.