Service charge

Cleveland restaurant adds ‘service charge’

CLEVELAND — Music Box Supper Club vice president Mike Miller said he puts a note on every table in the restaurant, telling customers how they will be charged.

This way, a customer won’t be surprised when they see a 20% service charge added to their bill.

“We wanted to be very candid,” Miller said. “We didn’t want it to be hidden.”


What do you want to know

  • A Cleveland restaurant added a 20% service charge to every bill
  • It’s a way to help almost double employees’ hourly wages
  • Customers can always add a tip in addition to the service charge

Miller set up the charge as a way to help pay his employees $15 in hourly wages, almost double what he was paying them before the pandemic.

“We have a lot of hourly workers, dishwashers, ticket takers and hosts, etc., who were making minimum wage, and it just didn’t feel like enough,” Miller said.

It is not a tip or a surcharge for higher trading costs. He said he sees the industry moving in that direction. Customer Mike Sickle said he liked the idea if it meant more money in the pockets of the staff serving him.

“The public should support this. They don’t ask us to hand over money in spades,” Sickle said. “It’s kind of what everyone will add for waiters and bartenders.”

Miller said he received little pushback from customers. He said it’s a way to pay workers properly, and he doesn’t expect it to backfire and force customers to go elsewhere.

“You come into a restaurant, you buy food, but you also buy service,” Miller said. “Someone to bring you your food. Someone to bring you your drink. Someone to make you your food.”

Miller said customers can always add a tip on top of the service charge if they want.