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U.S. President Barack Obama (L) stops for a beer at the bar of Gator U.S. President Barack Obama (L) stops for a beer at the bar of Gator's Dockside restaurant and to talk with families while campaigning in Orlando, Florida, September 8, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTR37PKY  

Restaurant chain adds Obamacare surcharge to customers’ bills

Giuseppe Macri
Tech Editor

A chain of Florida restaurants are making customers pick up the tab for the company’s mandatory participation in the Affordable Care Act — with a surcharge to every bill to help cover the cost of providing health care to their employees.

Eight Gator’s Dockside restaurants have started putting an “ACA Surchar” on every customer’s bill. The new charge adds one percent to the total check, which would mean 15 cents for an average $15 lunch according to a CNN report.

“The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors,” a sign outside one restaurant reads. “Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1 percent surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.”

Despite the fact that the ACA’s employer mandate won’t begin until 2015, Gator’s has implemented the charge  to help the company deal with the future costs of compliance.

“I’m just trying to keep the employees I have that I’ve worked hard to train,”  the chain’s Director of Operations Sandra Clark said when explaining the company’s decision to add the surcharge, which is expected to help cover the health-care costs of its full-time employees — who make half of the chain’s workers.

The restaurant chain has also hired an additional staff member and consulting firm to make sure it stays legally compliant with the law, which Clark estimated will cost the company an additional $500,000 per year, while the surcharge is only expected to make up $160,000 of that cost.

A separate chain of thirteen other Gator’s locations has elected not to add the surcharge.

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