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Customer Sues Lettuce Entertain You After Finding ‘Deceptive’ 24-Cent Pandemic Fee On His Check

The restaurant group implemented the 3 percent fee in 2020 because of "unanticipated costs." A Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken customer alleges it is a way for the company to boost revenue.

Lettuce Entertain You and Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken are being sued over its pandemic surcharge.
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CHICAGO — A man is suing well-known restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You, saying a 24-cent COVID-19 surcharge was added to his check without him being informed, according to his lawsuit.

James Maher said he bought an apple fritter, chocolate cake and hashbrowns at Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken in Tinley Park for $8.73, according to the Aug. 16 lawsuit. A 3 percent surcharge of 24 cents was included in the total without Maher’s knowledge, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit calls the 3 percent surcharge “deceptive,” saying the fee is just a way for the company to boost revenue.

“In many instances, customers are not made aware of these surcharges and processing fees until after payment,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit also alleges Lettuce Entertain You, which owns Do-Rite Donuts, is committing fraud by not notifying customers of the fee, which is added to every transaction.

“Instead of factoring any increased operation costs into their pricing model (as every other industry has been forced to do) and simply adjusting the visible advertised price of their menu items so customers are informed, defendants regularly and unlawfully add these deceptive surcharges to their customers’ bills without authorization or notification,” according to the lawsuit.

Lettuce Entertain You declined to comment. Attorneys for Maher did not return a request for comment.

The restaurant group, which operations more than 120 restaurants around the country, announced it would implement a pandemic surcharge in May 2020, according to Crain’s.

“These fees are a necessary step during a time when unanticipated costs have jeopardized the survival of our business,” company President R.J. Melman told Crain’s at the time. “That being said, our fees can be removed and refunded for any guest that requests, no questions asked.” 

The lawsuit is seeking class-action status, which would allow others to join.

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