Restaurants are desperately trying to stay afloat during the pandemic ... and that means customers bucking up -- so, welcome to the age of COVID surcharges.
Por ejemplo ... Goog's Pub & Grub in Holland Michigan recently started implementing its own COVID "tax" of sorts. Owner Brad White tells TMZ ... he's had to add the charge to cover skyrocketing prices for food and restaurant supplies.
White says his joint added an extra 86 cents to all bills to factor in to-go bags, silverware, condiments and styrofoam containers since, at this moment, restaurants in Michigan are limited to delivery and take-out only.
White says the popular burger joint usually pumps out 1,500 burgers a week and before the pandemic hit hard they were paying $50 for a case of beef. The price is now a whopping $96 per case. COVID cases hitting meat factories hard across the country contributed to that.
The public seems to get why the surcharge -- first reported by FOX17 -- is necessary. White says most people understand it's necessary to help the restaurant level off costs, but he adds some have accused him of trying to exploit the pandemic to rip off customers.
He says, "That's the furthest thing from the truth" -- and points out he's also had to downsize from 35 employees to 16. He's trying to help out his remaining staff by raising their hourly wage from $6 to $10. Point is, they're scraping by like millions across the country.
He's not on an island, mind you -- lots restaurants, including some in California and Missouri, have also added surcharges.
The hope, White says, his hope is to eliminate the COVID "tax" when things get back to normal ... or as normal as things can get these days.