FOOD BRIEF: Restaurants finding ways to pay for employee healthcare

Your bill may reflect costs of employee benefits

The Little Tart Bakeshop   Summerhill
Photo credit: Courtesy Little Tart Bakeshop
Little Tart Bakeshop on Georgia Ave.
A few restaurants in Atlanta are starting to put an extra charge on their customers’ bills to pay for employee healthcare and paid time off. The unusual move comes as employers in the industry face dwindling revenue and high turnover of staff. Little Tart owner Sarah O’Brien now adds a 4 percent pre-tax fee to all transactions at her four locations. “I didn’t want to bury it in a price increase. I wanted customers to understand,” O’Brien said, adding that there has been little pushback and feedback has been positive. Her employee Lea Liles and her husband now have medical, dental, and vision coverage. “It’s been great to get all of those things,” she said. “I haven’t had to pay too much out of pocket, which is awesome.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the food-service industry has among the highest rates of uninsured workers in the country, with 35 percent between the ages of 18 and 64 having no health insurance coverage whatsoever.